A Study in Studies

When my sister, Judy, first poked through our recently purchased historic fixer-upper, she declared that the small, dark study was her favorite room in the house. She called it. Because today, our study is my family’s chief gathering place. It’s a snug, warm space where we melt into the comfy chairs, prop our feet on the coffee table and talk for hours.

Ready to Study?

Would you love to have a study in your home that’s both welcoming and hard working?  Perhaps your home isn’t outfitted with a study. No problem – you can easily carve one out from a little-used room. Spare bedrooms, formal living rooms and dining rooms, and extra spaces in the basement make great studies. Maybe your home already has a study that you never use. Chances are that’s because the space isn’t designed in a way that suits your purposes or its décor pushes you away instead of welcomes you in.

No matter where it’s located, the key to making your study successful is to first define how you want to use it. Will this be a home office? A music room? A place to read?  Will you entertain in this room, or is a more private space for your family?

Furniture with Care

Once you determine how you want to use your study, be very thoughtful in what furniture you pick to go in it. Our study is the spot where Dan and I have our morning coffee, go through the mail and read. So we knew we needed comfortable seating, a few side tables to hold reading lamps and a bookcase to store a few of Dan’s books. I chose a chocolate leather sofa then covered the seat cushions with fabric slipcovers because I love the look of leather but don’t like how it feels to sit on. I also like how easy the slipcovers are to care for – when the cats shed on them, I just launder them.

If your study is rather small, like mine is, try these tips to give the illusion of more space. Select smaller scale furnishings, like a settee or love seat instead of a full sofa. Pick furniture with exposed legs so they don’t create visual barriers. Opt for pieces that can serve two purposes, like an ottoman that serves as a coffee table and provides extra seating.

Select a Palette

The color palette of your study plays a big role in its success. You want this space to be welcoming and comfortable, and you want it to reflect your family’s personality. We went with warm colors in our study because this is our hangout room in the winter and we wanted the space to wrap it arms around us like a warm blanket. I covered the walls in richly textured grass cloth wallpaper and filled it with furnishings upholstered in browns and greens.

If you want the mood of your study to be tranquil and serene, fill it with whisper soft colors like white, cream or gray. Or you may want the room to be filled with invigorating color. Right now, lots of young families are doing their studies in apple green and persimmon. Yellow and gray is also a hot color combination this season.

Bring Out Your Personality with Accents

Finish your study by adding a few carefully chosen accents that tell volumes about you. Showcase treasures you’ve brought back from vacation, like an African mask or conch shell. Display a few pieces of your favorite collections. I have a thing for old wooden boxes, so I stack several on the side table in my study. And, by all means, include lots of family photos showing you and your loved ones living and loving life.