“A room without books is like a body without a soul,” wrote Cicero. (We see you, bibliophiles, nodding in agreement). But how should they be displayed? Some readers prefer to go haphazard, others line up their tomes, going so far as to colour code them. Then there’s the hotly contested method of storing books with the spines turned backwards so that the room doesn’t look “noisy.” Which one of these home libraries speak to you?
In this renovated 17th-century Provencal farmhouse, a simple mounted shelving system keeps the books neatly tucked away, but in view. Such eye candy! Low-slung sofas in juicy orange tones are made for lounging with a novel in hand.
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Bedroom meets library in this masterful renovation to a Nantucket farmhouse
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When you’re a bibliophile, you ditch the dining room for your books. Which is exactly what Christine Manzari did. The passionate reader – and bookstagrammer – had her husband build the shelves and even create a secret room behind the bookcase. Christine likes to take a rainbow-shelving approach with some of her books. We’re swooning!
Plenty of books interspersed with pretty things is the perfect backdrop to this tulip table and cane-back chairs. Designed by Alessia Zanchi Loffredo of reDesign Home, the shelves follow the line of the canted shiplapped ceiling, which makes them especially striking. The black ladder with a slim silhouette is a nice touch against all the white.
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Floor to Ceiling
Book lovers prepare to swoon: this show-stopping library is packed with books that photographer Violet Short of Fairytale Parades has been collecting her entire life. When there are books everywhere, it’s a sure way to get the kids interested in reading. Violet says the only thing missing is a ladder.
The book nook in this Georgian home was once boring flat walls, but the archway was too good not to be highlighted, so the homeowner built inset shelves to house a serious book addiction. Note the pile beside the stained-glass window. (Read: this homeowner has countless books and this is just one of the several areas in the house that are overflowing with them).
Winner of the prettiest home office goes to this modern-classic grey beauty by Palmerston Design. Uncluttered shelves allow the decorative accessories to breathe. Moulding on the inset shelves and around the sconces lends sophistication.
A Step Up
Don’t want to build shelves? Buy a prefab bookshelf and customize it with a rustic ladder and your favourite books – they don’t have to be neatly arranged. Sometimes the best bookstores are a jumbled mess, filled with hidden gems. Rearranging books are a fun pastime true bibliophiles can relate to – and it provides a super chill workout of sorts when you’re home.
Hallway to Heaven
The often underused hallway and doorway are ideals spots to stash books. This design by Fearins Welch, in a project with CWB Architects, features floor-to-ceiling shelves as a charming teaser to the room beyond. Mounted lighting up top ensures the books are properly lit.
Book Lovers’ Haven
Can’t stop, won’t stop ogling. This exquisite 14-foot-tall library is a DIY project Monica Chavez and her husband tackled on weekends over a two-year period. The creative force behind House of Esperanza says it’s the absolute feature of their home. The shelves mostly hold vintage books. The ladder and gallery wall are splendid, too!
A small space demands clever thinking as seen in this Toronto home. A utilitarian bracket-and-shelving system is tucked above the TV to maximize space. Carrying the shelves to the ceiling ensures no inch is left unused.
Designed by Fearins Welch in collaboration with CWB Architects, this gorgeous freestanding library is a strong presence in the room. The wood is quarter-sawn white oak and the sliding tomato-red painted panel cleverly hides a TV. Behind the library is a home office.
A plain white bookshelf with extra wide shelves is a no-nonsense way to create a library. Carving out a home library of your own? Choose a spot with bright, natural lighting. And having a dog underfoot is never a bad idea, either.
The Flip Side
OK, before you get all in a huff about the turned books, know that there is a method to the madness. Naomi of My Charmed Cottage, an avid reader and book collector, says this is the vintage section of her library. The spines are all falling apart and this is a way to preserve them. Plus, displaying them this way lends a calming aesthetic to the room. We agree. There’s a lovely bygone feel to this space. Here are some more thrifted home decor ideas.
Snug in an inset bookshelf, this library exudes a quiet elegance in the divine Manhattan penthouse designed by Sheila Bridges. Singularly stylish, the penthouse is chock full of pattern, colour, amazing art and whimsy – including that wicked wavy chair.
An unused room can house both guests and your beloved books. Custom millwork and deep blue paint turns this space into a reader’s haven – complete with breezy open window and bed to kick back on for hours of uninterrupted reading pleasure.
No need to stuff those shelves. Take a page from budget-minded blogger Medina Grillo of Grillo Designs whose library has an airy, stylish vibe. Think plants, artwork and books and any other decorative item of your choice. Add a pretty chair by a window and you’re ready to spend the afternoon reading in style.
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