A Soft, Comfy Reading Chair

Something my home has been missing for a long time is a quiet place to read. The only chair that is big and cushy sits in front of the TV. With summer and both kids being at home and playing all day long, a quiet place to go and hide with some reading was something I needed desperately.

I wasn’t about to move my husband’s favorite recliner from its place in front of the TV, so I looked on Craigslist for a reading chair that would be big enough to be comfy and possibly hold an extra kid too.

So I looked, and I looked. Most of my furniture is used or vintage, and I prefer it that way, but the vintage chairs I like have sturdy wood frames with leather or vinyl-covered seats. It seemed impossible to find a completely-upholstered, soft chair that didn’t need to be recovered, and I don’t need another project.

When occasionally I found a used chair that I might be interested in, I couldn’t bring myself to email the seller to inquire. I worried that they might not tell me about spills or pet stains. I kept thinking about that Seinfeld episode where Poppy peed on the couch, and yes, I know all my pop-culture references are to television shows of the 90’s. It’s easy to buy vintage furniture made of wood, but upholstered furniture and mattresses—well, I have a hard time with that.

Finally I called off the search and headed to IKEA. It was the first time I went to IKEA all by myself without the kids, and it was SO FUN! Six hours, several towel bars, and quite a few flat-packed boxes later, I came home with an IKEA Ektorp chair. The only way it would fit in my car was to completely take it out of the box.

It is as great as everyone says.

Also at IKEA: outfits for stuffed animals. This raincoat for my daughter’s puppy just kills me, and it made me the best mom ever.

I’m so glad to finally have a reading chair.

Do you have a hard time buying upholstered pieces used, too? Do you have a quiet place to sit and read?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Christine says:

    That is SUCH a great idea. It’s the one thing my house is missing since we moved and threw out all our grungy ripped furniture (note: NOT putting those pieces on Craigslist…it would have been too mean to the buyers!). But I’m left with a vintage 50s vinyl chair and a big couch that’s comfy, but not cozy for sitting and reading. Ikea…here I come!! (don’t tell the spouse!!) We’ll justify it with the idea that a more comfortable reading corner will encourage the children to do their summer reading. ;-)

  2. Actually, we just bought some vintage upholstered furniture from craigslist (which I crowed about here: http://www.thissortaoldlife.com/2012/06/24/craigslist-win/) but after reading comments from readers and thinking about the cushions underneath the covers, I hear you and understand you wanting to buy new. And I’d never want a used mattress. Not logical, but there you go. And even more illogical–I rarely buy used books. If they are really old, yes, but newer used books, no. I would love to read a new book in your cosy reading corner though!
    Rita@thissortaoldlife.com´s last post…Craigslist win!How we scored a great craigslist deal

  3. Yes! I am trying right now to buy a used sofa as I will be in an apartment by myself for one year. There are lots of sofas on CList and some look great. But, I keep thinking of stuff drifting down deep down and to think of pee! Barf. I wouldn’t consider paying retail for wooden furniture, I really love a great score more, more fun than new. But! I read used mattresses weigh tons more than brand new because of accumulated skin cells and moisture. Barf again. Seems worse than going to Goodwill and buying undies.
    And that’s so great you provided a quiet place for you and your children, those moments just won’t happen otherwise.

    • During the years when I was just starting out, I had a $5 chair and a $10 couch from a garage sale, and I also had a used mattress that someone whom I knew gave to me (I didn’t live in an urban area where I had to be concerned about bed bugs.) It was fine at the time, but now I would want to slipcover everything and that gets expensive.

  4. oh, I dream of this chair (and the reading nook to go with). someday, someday… maybe not in white. :)
    karen´s last post…Results may vary (my advice on having a happy marriage)

    • The selling point of the white slipcover is that it’s only $30. If it were for the couch that my kids jump on all the time, I’d have to wash it more often, and I don’t want to do that, but for a quiet place to read it will be fine I think.

      • that’s a good point. i’m so afraid of white, but i love the picture above, so may just have to give it a go… when we move to a house… near an Ikea… hopefully soon!
        karen´s last post…Results may vary (my advice on having a happy marriage)

        • Karen, I’m with you about the white slipcover but I’ve seen them on a ton of blogs lately and everyone says they are wonderful. Even those with little ones and pets say they are so easy to wash and actually become better after several washes. They are on my wish list for our next house.

  5. Marjorie says:

    I knew that was the Ektorp chair without having to read your post. I love that chair and it does get good reviews. On my list to purchase actually, with the Ektorp sofa. I live in a small open apartment and wish I had space for a reading nook for myself. Must find a spot!

    That raincoat is adorable!! And to go to Ikea without the kids sounds like a dream!

    I’m not so keen on buying upholstered items. Although I did buy an upholstered rocker for my son’s nursery but only because it had a slip cover that I could wash and it was absolutely spotless underneath. BUT you’re right. No one tells you the truth. I refuse to buy a used couch or mattress too. Just seems gross- and I’m the Craigslist queen!

  6. One of the key items I insisted on when we purchased our living room set was a “reading chair.” I’m sure my husband thought I was nuts, but we both use and love it now that we actually have it.

  7. Love, love, love the Ektorp furniture from Ikea. Have the whole set in my living room. What a nice nook you have created to enjoy reading. Kudos to you!!!!!

  8. That exact chair is on our shopping list for our home library. In fact, we decided that it would be the perfect gift to ourselves as soon as our mortgage is paid of (aiming for this November), so it will be all the more special. :-) We have the Ektorp couch and we LOVE it.

  9. Karen (Scotland) says:

    I love the Ektorp too but my husband has a thing against the pleated skirt at the corners. He says it’s too fancy (I know, and I thought I was the minimalist.)
    So, we’re still hunting for that perfect chair.

  10. I have a hard time buying used upholstered pieces for the same reason I have a hard time buying used pants. There are some heebie jeebies you just can’t get over.
    Tracey´s last post…Three Handy Things For My Summer Kitchen

  11. This is our reading chair, too! Big enough for multiple kids. :)
    Natalie from Oven Love´s last post…Getting Back in the Swing

  12. I love the EKTORP series. We have the sofa for three persons and it is so comfy. The sides are nice, you can rest your head on them and read a book. You can even sleep on this sofa even if you don’t have the sofa bed. The cover is changeable. And it looks like a sofa from your grandma. I love it.

    Regards from Berlin, Germany

  13. It’s great to have a cozy, reading chair. We have a favorite chair inside to read, and also some favorite outside chairs on our porch that make great reading spots in the summer. Thanks for sharing the information about your new IKEA chair. It looks like a great reading spot!
    Our Learning´s last post…Collecting Memories, Part I

  14. Yes. Yes. Yes. I confess that I cannot get ANYTHING fabric covered from a “stranger.” I see gals picking up pillows from thrift stores all the time and it just creeps me out! LOL!

    Love seeing your daughter in the reading chair. I’m sure it will be a very popular spot this summer!

  15. I adore the chair. And the puppy poncho is icing on the cake. That was a successful shopping trip. Thanks for sharing.

  16. I will admit that I have always bought the majority of my furniture new for the cleanliness reason you mention. However, I’ve had a couple things happen recently that have made me question any furniture purchase – new or used. First, before my son was born I bought a new glider for his room. It was upholstered. When I got it home in his room, it smelled so bad from the materials I couldn’t leave it in the room and had to return it. At that point, I started to get myself in the mindset that I was going to pursue used to avoid any offgassing. So, just last week I bought a desk from a local thrift shop for my daughter’s room (a nice buy at $15). I saw and examined it outside where it was located and it seemed fine, then when I transported it home I noticed that my car smelled horribly of cigarette smoke (we don’t smoke). When I got home, I went to the desk and took a big sniff only to find that the entire desk reeked of cigarette smoke! Needless to say, I wouldn’t put that in a child’s room and returned it (fearing that even a sanding and repainting wouldn’t stop the smell). All that to say, I have learned to carefully examine everything – new or used! I do love your reading chair, though, and wish you many great stories in it!

  17. I love the chair and we are so lucky that we live only 15 minutes of drive away from IKEA, just on the other side of the border in Belgium. However, I stopped buying anything fabric covered because of our cat. Although she doesn’t damage the furniture, she loses so much hair and the fabric was always full of hair and dirty. So when we needed a new sofa last year, we bought a leather one. It is so much easier.
    Natacha´s last post…Lava beads

  18. A place to read was so incredibly important when we bought out sofas. They had to be just soft enough to curl up and read in especially as it’s one of our favourite past times :)

    I love the seat in white, it makes it look even more inviting & serene,x
    Fiona @ Everyday Spiritual Wisdom´s last post…Life’s Little Luxuries

  19. It looks like a lovely cosy place to sit and read. I’m very inspired to do the same. Thanks for the inspiration! xx

  20. Almost all of our “hard” furniture is used/vintage, but we HAD to have the Ektorp sofa-bed and later that chair. Everything is white, and whenever we think about getting another color slipcover, the $$ sends us right back to white. :)

  21. I want that chair!! A few months ago I redid our bedroom, and I moved the recliner that used to live in Eleanor’s room (and which rarely ever was used, since the glider was comfier) into the corner of our room. I read in it all the time now, but I always steal pillows off our bed since it’s not the comfiest.

    Very envious of your comfy corner! :)
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…Judging Covers: All the King’s Men

  22. We had two reading chairs in our house growing up. One I don’t know where it is, the other, purchased new by my mom, probly around 1960, came to me last year, still in it’s most recent ’70’s recovered Naugahyde gold! LOL. Last year my husband and I selected soft fabric we like in cool, current colors. My family members don’t even recognize the chair at first – but it’s the most comfortable one in the room, and as soon as they sit there, it’s “oh! It’s THIS chair!’ Love summer reading.

  23. I have wondered about the quality of these Ektorp pieces compared to more traditional furniture with their hand-tied springs, etc. I’ll be interested in a further review after you’ve used it awhile.
    Lori @ In My Kitchen, In My Life´s last post…Five Tips for Planning a Big Party

    • My sofa version (7 years old) got moved to our sunroom because of a super annoying squeak it developed. It still looks nice but it isn’t a high quality in my opinion.

  24. I LOVE it!

    One of those chairs has been on my IKEA shopping list for months–we just haven’t made it to IKEA yet to pick one up! So glad you love yours, but it makes me even more eager to get mine!
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy´s last post…Atlantic Readers Can’t Have It All, But Can We?

  25. This reminds me of one of my favorite children’s books, A Chair For My Mother. Its about a family saving their loose change to buy a big comfy chair for the mom who is a waitress. My mom was a waitress too so I always loved the story.

  26. We have had an Ektorp corner sofa for nine years and have been so happy with it. It can seat the family of five plus cat! Our girls (now 19, 15 and 13) have always loved to curl up and cuddle and many happy hours have been spent on our very roomy Ikea couch (especially with a good chick flick on the TV)!
    Sadly, the cover now looks a little worse for wear. It is white with a pink/red rose pattern. An Ikea staff member informed us that the corner couch slip covers are no longer made, but very quietly told us about a company in Sweden called Bemz who make the covers and ship all over the world. I would recommend that anyone who doesn’t like the Ikea colours/designs or needs a replacement cover check out their website. I was amazed!
    Happy reading Rachel.

  27. Elisabeth says:

    I have the same chair, and pretty much did the same thing trying to find it–only back in college! I was determined to find that perfect comfy reading chair (I was an English major with a lot of reading to do!), and finally found it at IKEA. White fit my budget, too, and it’s been washed a few times! Now it sits in our sons’ room, with the Torva blanket draped across the arms/seat to help protect it. It’s a family favorite spot now!

  28. After hearing the horrible bed-bug stories of other New Yorkers, I will never allow second-hand upholstered items or clothing into my home unless I know who it came from. This makes me incredibly sad, as I love thrift-store shopping — but not sad enough to risk the epidemic.

    We just bought the Ektorp sofa-bed, and love it. I love the cover you chose for your chair!
    Lissa´s last post…Work in Progress Wednesday: Hermione’s Everyday Socks and the Mossy Cowl

  29. For my 30th birthday, dear friends of mine, knowing that I did not have that comfy reading spot in my bedroom that I had been hoping for, took a beat-up 2nd hand overstuffed chair and recovered it to make it a beautiful, fresh soft place to sit. It’s been a great addition to our room!
    Joylynn´s last post…Pete and repeat

  30. Thanks for the great idea. I have been looking for a chair on Craigslist, at estate sales, yard sales, and Goodwill, but decent upholstered ones are really hard to find. I thought about new but couldn’t find a place that had one with a decent price and good quality. We don’t have an IKEA around here, but we are going on vacation and hope to be able to shop at one then and check out their quality.

  31. I usually try to get second hand furniture, but recently my brother got bed bugs from an upholstered couch his room mate salvaged from their building’s garbage disposal room. Since then I’ve been a bit weary of used upholstered furniture and I stay away from stuff that is too large to toss in the freezer for a couple of days.

    So IKEA is usually my go-to place if I want something large and upholstered. A bonus is that their European stores don’t have products with brominated flame retardants (except for the UK, where they apparently must use them according to law).

  32. We bought our ektorp sectional (LOVE!) because of the previous upholstered sofa. Never, ever, ever again will I buy an upholstered slipcover that I can’t take apart and boil clean. Therefore, no, I probably wouldn’t be able to buy used upholstered furniture. I bought a vintage blue chesterfield, but that’s different since it’s a leather.

    Poppy. {{shudder}}
    Jules´s last post…How to Organize Instruction Manuals

  33. We have the same chair. We got the ottoman too :D. It has been our family’s {even my 14 months old} favorite.

  34. So so so jealous! I want nothing more than a comfy little reading spot with a bookcase, a small table with enough room for a lamp and a cup of something warm and delicious, and a cozy chair. That sounds like heaven.

    I love how comfortable Lane looks. I’m sure you’ll be racking up a lot of mileage on that chair. :)
    Jennie´s last post…{this moment}

  35. That is the perfect reading chair! I usually just read on the living room couch or in an upholstered deep red chair in the guest room/office.

  36. I have been looking at IKEA chairs, too!
    Working to create a new space in our living room conducive to having friends plop down with some coffee for a long and cozy chat!
    Hope to get to this project going soon – thank you for the inspiration!!!

  37. We love our Ektorp white chairs and sofa — very comfortable! My only word of advice is, take care not to dry the covers on very high heat, or they will shrink – and possibly rip when you try to put them back on. Our chair cover has a huge rip under the right arm from trying to force it back on the chair. I need to find some strong carpet thread to mend it. Now I dry the covers on low heat and take out before they’re completely dry. Anyway, we still love IKEA!

  38. Looking around.. for your post on No Spend Month.

    Will check back tomorrow. :D
    Donna´s last post…Felted Handbag… Mom Would Be Proud

  39. Gosh, I LOVE to buy upholstered furniture at thrift stores and have found some fabulous pieces. I take them to Mike, my friendly upholster guy and wait for his comments.
    “I’d recover this for free if you’d sell it to me,” he’ll say. Or, “Why don’t you sell this piece to me?” Better yet, “How do you find such GREAT pieces?!”
    He LOVES my finds and one of the best finds cost $24.95 for both chair and ottoman then another $300 to recover. So, for less than $350 (furniture, fabric, labor) I’ve got a wonderful, comfy chair that’s newly covered in fabric of my choosing that will outlast me.
    Nope, give me real furniture every day; stuff that has great bones and will outlast even the next generation.
    Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm´s last post…Grow Old Along With Me…

  40. I am loving all the comments about how great the ektorp furniture is! We’re in the process of finishing a home library (floor to ceiling bookshelves, also from Ikea) and I’ve been looking on craigslist for a chair, but having a hard time finding something I want. I’ve looked at this chair longingly and now I think it will be part of the plan.

  41. Oh, IKEA. Now that we’ve moved to a state that does not have an IKEA, I am realizing how wonderful it was when we lived within ten miles of one. And I had an EKTORP sofa bed with a white slipcover, and sold it on Craigslist before we moved because it wasn’t our favorite, but now I am kicking myself for letting go of a decent sofa for such a low price. It is very hard where we are now to find a sofa that looks decent for a decent price and is guaranteed clean – the Craigslist market area is much smaller.

    Anyway, as for reading chairs, what we did bring with us was a Pottery Barn Manhattan Chair and matching ottoman I had gotten for a really good deal on Craigslist in California. I am so thankful my mom talked me into keeping it when we moved. I was in the mode of downsizing as much as possible, but she said I wouldn’t probably find a chair like that where we were moving, and she was right. It is my favorite piece of furniture in the entire house now – cognac color. With three boys, it manages to stay in decent condition as well.

  42. In the magazine this chair looks more beige and in your car it looks beige. Online and in your picture of your daughter it looks white. I’d love to know which one is the true color! I think I may need the chair and sofa and love seat!!!

    • It’s canvas white. In the room the walls are white and the carpet is beige, so the chair is definitely more white than beige.

  43. The chair looks great! I have the sofa version..it is about 7 years old now and developed a annoying squeak whenever you shift on one side of it. That is my fear with IKEA furniture..it’s just not long lasting I think. But it is what we could afford at the time and it does look nice still. It has been moved to our sunroom and we got a beautiful criagslist leather couch to replace it in our living room. I have an upholstered armchair I bought 2nd hand but it was from a nice consignment shop…not your typical goodwill. I’m picky about the upholstery too. :-)

  44. Great buy! Yes, I’m with you, I have a tough time buying upholstered furniture. It collects people’s smells and stuff. Creeps me out. Our reading place is with a bunch of oversized pillows and blankets in a quiet corner. We love it.
    Mel@TheDizzyMom´s last post…4th of July Treat

  45. I love the Ektorp range, the chairs and couches are so comfy. I could curl up and read for hours in one of those!
    Chrissie´s last post…Baby Bug Racer

  46. I have bought a second-hand lounge (it was a sofa bed) and it was terrific… since then I tried again but found that it was sheer luck that first time! A couple of years ago when it was time for something new, I found a local shop that had furniture made locally – about the same price as Ikea, but supporting local manufacturers. I am really happy with the couches :) Love the picture of the furniture in the car! :D
    angelvalerie´s last post…being here now…

  47. Ha! Exactly, I can buy wood pieces all day long off CL but couches and other upholstered stuff scares me. When my boyfriend and I first moved in together, we bought a couch off CL and it worked really well for us for 3 years. The girl we bought it from was super clean (looking) so I figured it would be ok. But when it was time to buy a new one recetnly, just couldn’t do it! To the store we went. I just found your blog via Pinterest and I love it, your philosophy is EXACTLY how I try to live my life, so some very good inspiration here!

  48. Stephanie says:

    Hi! Just found your blog via Kristen at The Frugal Girl. I had to comment on this post because the picture of your IKEA chair completely out of the box made me laugh. I had to do the same thing at IKEA a few years back when I bought a couch there, even though it is the smallest couch you can buy at IKEA… But, it’s fun to tell people I fit a couch into my Plymouth Neon. Ha.