The Treehouse: Reading Loft

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle. A huge thank you to Serena & Lily for partnering with me on this space.

Oh man. I am so excited to share this photo tour with you! This was months and months in the making. When we first moved into The Treehouse, and explored the house for the first time, we imagined this space as a reading loft right away. In my head, it was going to be weekend project — throw down some flooring, paint it up, add comfy chair. Done and done. But as I actually started working on the space, I found that I wanted to take my time with decisions and really put thought into what would work best.

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

Back in September, I thought I wanted wall to wall carpet in the loft. Then, I decided to experiment with a concrete overlay on the floors (which has held up wonderfully by the way). Then, I spent weeks and weeks figuring out what I wanted to do for shelves, and eventually decided on a DIY approach (tutorial coming!). Then, I ordered a chair with custom upholstery — which is a 6 week wait. Then, the room was 95% finished, and I realized I wanted one wall to be blue.

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

It’s a tiny space, only 7 x 9.5 feet, but I really wanted to make the most of it, and to make it completely inviting and appealing for all the kids, both little and big. It took me quite awhile to get it just right.

So let’s get to the tour!

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

Let’s start with some wide angle shots from each corner of the room so you can get a sense for the loft overall. I know the wide angle lens makes it look deceptively big! But it’s actually only 7 x 9.5 feet — and has a low slanted ceiling over half of the space. Take a look:

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

So. That’s the loft overall. A really happy colorful space. Now let’s get into some details for a bit and discuss some of my decision making:

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

As I mentioned, the paint color came at the last minute. In fact, we painted it on Friday night! But I think it’s a great addition. The color peeks through the crate shelving (just like in the inspiration picture) and the shade of blue is wonderful. It’s called Undercool by Sherwin-Williams — it’s bright but not too bright, and has a touch of turquoise in certain lights. It’s cheerful and calming.

The globe lights are from Ikea (they were part of last year’s holiday collection), and the Man in the Moon Garland DIY is here.

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

The chair is the Spruce Street chair from Serena & Lily. The size is ideal! It’s comfortable for a an adult, but it’s not oversized, so it has good proportions for kids as well. As I worked on the loft, I was going for a mostly yellow + blue palette, and this chair was one of the first decisive decisions I made.

The Fox Pillow and Pom Pom Blanket are also from Serena & Lily.

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

Speaking of color, check out this crazy easy DIY poster! I saw this in the office of my book editor, Lia Ronnen and instagrammed it that day. The poster is a piece of foamcore with postcards attached. The postcards are book covers from Penguin, and you can buy them as a set here.

In the main floor of the house, I’ve focused on neutrals and whites with touches of green and natural woods — which I’ve loved. But in the family room (where the reading loft is), I’ve been using the same white on the walls, but using it as a backdrop for lots of bright color. Which has been fun!

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

The rug is a cotton Rope Rug that I am completely in love with! It’s good looking, and also super thick and soft. So comfortable. It fits perfectly in the space and looks really handsome with the DIY concrete floor.

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

As I mentioned, the shelves are DIY, made from very affordable sheets of plywood. I’ve got a tutorial coming soon! I love how they turned out. There are 3 different sizes and they can be combined in endless combinations and adjusted to make room for whatever you need — like the handsome Studio Task Lamp pictured.

I should note here that I’ve been coordinating my books by color since 2009. I don’t do it on every shelf in the house, just where it makes sense. I’ve written about it a few times and I know some people find it maddening. Hah! But if you’re a visual person (I am), it’s actually quite ideal. When I think of a title in our book collection, a picture of the cover is what comes to my mind. So finding my books by color works really well.

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

We knew we wanted a footstool so our kids could really relax while they read, and this Moroccan Pouf is just right for the job.

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

One of the wonderful things about the loft is that it has two windows that let in beautiful light. I didn’t want to block it out, but I wanted something to filter the light, and I happened to have just the thing in my linen closet.

The sheer mesh curtains have a bit of a story. I bought them for our very first nursery over 16 years ago! And they have moved with us from house to house. I remember buying them clearly, because I bought them from Kmart and it was the first time I’d been to Kmart in years. I went there because I wanted to check out the brand new Martha Stewart line (remember that?) and I went home with these mesh curtains from her collection.

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

Because some of the shelves are stacked quite high, I knew we would need a stool so that even little June could access every book. This 3-legged Dip Dyed option was pretty much irresistible, and worked with the blue and yellow palette I was putting together.

Behind the stool you might notice a green palm frond basket — and there’s a similar blue one across the loft. We use them to store stacks of paperbacks — like Magic Treehouse and Time Warp Trio and Roald Dahl books (though I wish those were hardbacks).

Read instead.Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

The Read Instead print is fantastic. It lives by the ladder to the loft and tempts readers up the stairs. : ) My friend here in Oakland, Erik Heywood, created the print. He owns a little store in Temescal Alley called Book/Shop. If you ever get a chance to visit, you will be glad you did.

The sewn paper garland DIY can be found here.

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

For extra seating, I think these oversize Floor Cushions in Aqua and Navy are ideal. They’re filled with bean-bag like material and you can squash them around as you like. I knew that sometimes the kids would want to retreat to the reading loft with a friend or two, and I wanted to make sure there was more than one comfy spot to hang out.

The small yellow throw pillow was already in The Treehouse when we moved in and belonged to the previous owners.

Here are a few more shots that I had a hard time editing out:

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

Lastly, here’s a peek at what the reading loft looks like at night — because everyone knows sometimes you must stay up past your bedtime to finish that last chapter:

Turn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design MomTurn a small, unused space into an inviting Reading Nook   |   Design Mom

I think that about covers it. I hope you enjoyed the tour, and I’d love to hear what you think of the space. Wishing you a cozy, happy reading spot at your own house!

P.S. — A reader commented on Instagram with a request for a post with similar, but more affordable furniture options. I love that idea! I’ll work on it straight away.

124 thoughts on “The Treehouse: Reading Loft”

    1. Dear Bambi and Birdy, I would like to say something to you, without meaning it in a harsh way: I feel this is a place in which you are asked to add something to a conversation. It isn’t a place to promote your own blog. Sorry to criticize, but I find it not very polite and respectful to make use of other peoples blog in this manner…

      So. Back to the topic of the Blairs new reading loft: I really like it and can imagine that it will become everyones favorite corner of the house.

      May I ask you, Gabrielle: Does the leather pouf have a strong smell? We once considered buying a pink one just like that one in Morocco, but it had a very strong odor and we weren’t sure if it would disappear. We wanted to use it in our (then) baby girls room and feared the smell would overpower everything.
      Since then I regret not having bought it…

      1. Dear Dorthe,

        Thank you for your critical comment. We appreciate your concerns and gave it a whole night of thoghts. We never wanted to be rude or disrespectful. We love to read posts and sometimes, as you do, we like to comment on other blogs. It is a community and we love to be a part of it.
        We are so thankful for all the thoughts, Gabrielle here, and a lot of other bloggers world wide, give to the posts. And we know how hard it sometimes can be to write a good post. Especially, if you have an other life going on outside the internet. We put a link afterwards our comments to give something back. We got inspired by the post and love to give the blogger or the comminuty a new inspiration. This is how the internet works for us. We think of it as a colorful ocean, where you can indulge in a variation of ideas and have the change to soak in new inspiration… so that writing your next post gets much easier.

        We are so sorry, that you had the need to write to us twice and felt that we don’t appreciate comments enough. We do think, that everyone is different, and everyone lives life and writes blogs and comments in a different way and that there exist multiple ways to comment.
        We hope, that with all the respect we have for every blogger, reader and every comment, we get respect in return and did not want to offend you in any way.

        We wish you all a wonderful day
        B&B

        and here is a more detailed report on our commenting issues:
        http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/2014/04/first-critical-comment.html

  1. I am speechless! Even color-coordinated books!!! Amazing, even stunning!!
    And you’re a Blair!!!! So honored!!!

  2. I was so excited for this post and it did not disappoint! Love all the details! I bet your kids love it too. I want to copy the poster. Where did you get your piece of foamcore and does it need to be custom cut? If so, did you just have it cut the size of a basic poster board? Thanks for all the inspiration!

    1. The foamcore is standard posterboard size. I attached the postcards using double sided tape — though any glue or adhesive would work. They fit perfect top to bottom. When I was done, there was about 1 inch of foamcore left showing, so I trimmed it off with an exacto knife and a straight edge.

      1. I wouldn’t use glue to do it. I did a similar project with printed book covers from books that were meaningful to our family and when I used glue on the foamcore it warped and wouldn’t lay flat anymore. Maybe hot glue? It looks fantastic by the way!

      2. Quite possibly a ridiculous question, but how did you stick the postcard poster to the wall? It looks like there are little clips? Thanks!

  3. What a gorgeous space! My boyfriend and I are planning on making a little corner of our bedroom into a reading corner, and have been on the hunt for the perfect chair (a very daunting task, as you know). I love the idea of using globe lights/garlands to delineate that corner from the rest of the room too.

    Also, slightly off topic but June’s green gingham dress is SO adorable.

  4. When you’re thinking about cheaper options, we have a great one for floor pillows. We bought two of the canvas Ursula cushion covers from Ikea ($13 each) and stuffed them with one feather pillow and one synthetic. It makes them wonderfully squishy but with enough integrity to be comfortable to sit, lay or snuggle up on. I secretly want 10 more. Each pillow totals about $25.

    links:

    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30281273/

    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60262188/

    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30267125/

    1. It was a 3 adult effort! It wouldn’t fit through the ladder entrance, so we had to go over the railing on the side where the ceiling slanted up. First we set up a big a-frame ladder, then Ben Blair climbed up and me + a friend worked together to lift it over our heads to him, and Ben rested it on top of the ladder.

      Then, me and the friend went up in the loft and Ben lifted it to us and we rested the chair on the railing. Then Ben joined us in the loft and he and I lifted the chair in to the room.

      It was a bit of a circus but actually only took a few minutes. (Thankfully!)

    1. It was fun to take a completely unused space and make it really functional. Because our kids have shared bedrooms, I also like that it’s another place to retreat to when they’re craving some alone time.

  5. Wow! I’m surprised you went with such bright colours, but I LOVE it! My favorites are the floor cushions and that gorgeous rug.

    Oh, and PLEASE tell me where that beautiful little green dress on your girl comes from! It is too cute. :)

    1. It kind of surprised me too! Especially when I look at the living room and hallway on the main floor — which are completely pale in comparison.

      Speaking of the living room, I’ll be sharing a full tour later this month as part of a big Joss & Main sale I’m planning.

      Also, June’s sweet dress came from Kayce Hughes, but alas, we ordered a couple of years ago.

  6. I love it. Such pretty colours and a great combination of comfort, coziness, and pretty.

    I’ve never organized my books by colour, but could see how it could work for someone visual like you. A funny story about organizing books by colour was told to me by my friend who taught in Nigeria in the early 1980s. When she went to the University book store to buy a book she couldn’t find it because the book store was organized by colour and she didn’t know what colour the book was. Doesn’t work so well there, but I bet the book store looked amazing.

  7. What a wonderful way to make reading inviting to your children. You did a fantastic job…I want curl up in there! I especially like the DIY poster; it’s something I think I may add to our home.

  8. Oh my goodness! How lovely! We’re currently working on something similar in our son’s closest. A mini retreat if you will where he can hide and read. Question though…. Neurotic Mama here- what is the wright capacity of your loft?

    1. We don’t know an exact weight, but we did have a contractor look at it to make sure it would work for the purpose we had in mind and he said we were more than fine. And thank goodness! Because sometimes there are 4 or 5 kids up there.

  9. So jealous (in a good for you way)! Love everything you did. The colours, floor cushions, the lights. Did you just tape them to the wall?

  10. Oh, Gabrielle, I love this!! We have a similar space (a loft that overlooks the front entrance) and I’ve dreamed of making it into a reading nook. I got as far as sorting the books by color in the built-in bookcase (an idea I got from you years ago!), but I psyched myself out thinking it would be expensive to complete and we’d better wait until later…. Thank you for the reminder that it’s the little touches (color and a meaningful print or two and some fun add-ons) that make a room special. (Having said that, I’m going to start saving up for those floor cushions…love them!)

  11. I liked your point about this being a nice getaway when your kids share bedrooms with their siblings — that was what immediately struck me about it! The room looks great, but also it just looks FUN. I think any kid coming over for a visit would be drawn to go check it out.

  12. Oh it’s so wonderful! I’ve had my eye on the rope rug as well, but I’ve been concerned about putting a cream rug in a space designated for kids. Have you had light colored rugs in play spaces before?

    Well done Gabby! It’s the perfect combination of splurging on the right pieces and saving on others.

    1. I had the same concerns, but this space is so small, it really doesn’t function as a play space, so I ended up feeling good about it. The rug has been up there for about a month so far and no worries. We’ll see how it goes!

  13. Oh WOW! Gabrielle, your spaces are always beautifully put together, but I love this above and beyond anything else you have shown on the blog! Bright colours are my weakness, and I love how this feels sunny and fun, but not cluttered (especially impressive in such a small space!). All the details come together so well, and to top it all off June’s dress is the cutest thing.

    PS I organise my books by colour too :)

  14. So so very nice and bright! Love it! Question though……I love the garlands and lights and have been wanting to incorporate some in my house……how do you attach them to the wall?

    1. The garlands I used are very lightweight, so all I needed was standard pushpins — the kind you use on a bulletin board. I push the pins into the sheetrock and then drape the garland over the pins.

  15. I’m inspired by the thoughtfulness and care that went into this design. It’s a super special I’m guessing the whole family will love to use. Adorable children reading books in a lovely space, what could be better?

    And thanks for the p.s. I’m looking forward to it =)

  16. This song popped into my mind the second I saw the first picture of your reading loft:

    Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun,
    Please shine down on me…

    Love it. Such a light and happy space. :)

  17. I absolutely LOVE this!!! It’s the perfect little reading nook and you have completely inspired me!!! You are just so creative, i love it!

  18. This turned out so lovely! I really love that blue, among so many other elements in the room. I, too, am looking forward to the crate shelving tutorial as it may be the answer to a storage issue we have in part of our living room where the kids play.

  19. Love it! We put a reading loft in our home a few years ago and the kids are always disappearing into it. Now I want one for me!

  20. The reading loft turned out so great, congratulations! I have the same slanted ceiling in the second bedroom in our house, happy to see how someone as creative as you dealt with it. What a great room for all the family to enjoy.
    On a side note, I can’t believe how big June is! My only daughter is three weeks older than her and sometimes I forget how big they are getting. This picture of June just made me realize that time does fly.

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