Creating a Home Library that’s Smart And Pretty

Home libraries of the past have a reputation of being dark, dank, dusty places where leather and low lighting abounds. This isn’t the case today. Home libraries are a beautiful and functional way to display books in a way that makes them as easily accessible as they are aesthetic.

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This is great news for the masses, because now we can stylishly create a home library space (large or small) that is both smart AND pretty.And that combination makes everyone happy.{found on dwell}.

Pick a wall, any wall.

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Floor-to-ceiling shelves stuffed with books are delightful things for most of us. The truth is, nearly any wall that could benefit from a large piece of art or a focal point will benefit from wall-covering built-in bookshelves. This is good news for the modern home library: it doesn’t have to be its own room, but can be equally at home as a wall in the living room or even dining room.

Arrange books by color.

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This strategy turns what could potentially be an overload of random objects into orderly and bright décor. We especially like the white bookshelves with this strategy, because it sets off the colors and keeps everything feeling and looking fresh.

Include comfortable seating.

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There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book in a comfy chair or sprawling out on the sofa, so it makes perfect sense to incorporate great seating into your home library. Because they might be seen as “competing” with the book spines, we typically recommend going solid-neutral on your home library furniture upholstery.

Install creative shelving.

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Create immediate impact and visual interest in your home library – even if it’s just a wall in the living room – by designing outside-the-box shelving. These cube cubbies installed on a diagonal, for example, are as artistic as they are useful.

Have a curtain as backup.

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Say you don’t want your books visible at all times, or you feel like they’re too busy for your space. Install a floor-length curtain (hung from the ceiling) to allow for easy access to and cover-up abilities for your books.

Add a ladder.

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If your home library’s bookshelves extend to the ceiling (or very high, in a room with vaulted ceilings), it makes both practical and beautiful sense to incorporate a rolling ladder into the library design. We love the funk of the brightly painted ladder here.

Maximize your vaulted ceiling space.

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If your living room, or a similarly large area, is two stories high, incorporating a home library into the top part of that space is genius! The living space below still feels large because the ceilings are still high, and you’ve maximized your upper walls with a catwalk, a contemporary cable railing, and shelves upon shelves of books.

Use a study table.

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Depending on the real estate you have available for your home library, incorporating a study table of sorts into your library space is a fantastic idea. It allows one to sit and study from multiple sources simultaneously, and it lends itself to the overall brain-energizing feeling that a library tends to produce. (For best results, don’t forget the comfortable seating, even at a study table!)

Incorporate living room details.

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Fresh flowers, an overstuffed armchair, and a rug – these are just some of the many living room-y details that you can incorporate beautifully into your home library.

Create library as reading nook.

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Home libraries, by and large, really aren’t meant to be dark, intimidating, purely academic spaces. They’re supposed to bring the opportunity for love and joy of reading into our homes and, therefore, conveniently into our lives. An inviting window seat is the perfect place to curl up with a good book or sit and study, so consider incorporating your home library around this feature.

Maximize shelved doors.

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Where space and architecture permit, another excellent use of space is the front (or back) side of an internal door. Build shelves onto one side, reinforce the hinging to be heavy duty enough for the weight, and enjoy an expanded home library (almost) on-the-go.

Look up.

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Often, even without vaulted ceilings, the top foot or two of a room of any size is “wasted” space. This home library (located in the bedroom) is in a non-traditional setting, but it’s a great use of space. Plus…those dark shelves and built-ins make such a dramatic statement!{found on beyondbeige}.

Create a hallway home library.

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Convert a wider-than-average hallway into a home library of sorts, with bookshelves flanking either side. Floor-to-ceiling shelves work great when possible, but using the half-wall adjacent to a staircase is a smart use of space as well. We like how the details (lighting, paint colors) are kept light and simple to keep the hallway-library (hall-brary?) space feeling open.

Turn wasted space into a home library space.

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Should your stairs have a landing that’s large enough to make you feel like the space is being wasted, consider turning that into your home library. We love the gorgeous woodwork of this stately shelving, and the arching at the top lends an aura of sophisticated academia. Bonus: This helps with the acoustics of an otherwise empty, vaulted space.

Wall lighting.

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Of course, the lighting you choose for your home library will depend largely on your own style and the space itself, including the size and placement of your library bookshelves. But when possible, downward facing “task lighting” (a.k.a. art lighting or display lighting) installed at the tops of your shelves will make the home library feel sophisticated…in addition to helping you be able to locate the book you’re after!{found on littlegreennotebook}.

Consider the white space.

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We’re not talking literal white space only here. What we’re saying is that some home libraries benefit from having an empty, or very sparsely decorated, shelf or two. This breaks up the visual mass that is book spines and allows your library to “breathe” a bit.{found on ascher}.

Make sure there’s adequate lighting.

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This goes without saying, probably, but just in case… a home library is a book-centered place, and the reading, studying, and enjoying of books in general requires plenty of quality light.

Incorporate rounded architectural lines.

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So, this idea might not be practical for some of us, but it should be noted that a stunning way to incorporate a home library is to juxtapose the solid square rigidity of the books themselves with a swirling, curvy space. The spiral staircase and rounded nook pair perfectly with the circular details of the flooring to create an overall magical feel to this home library.

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What do you think? What’s your favorite aspect of the modern home library?