Five Tips For A Traditional Style Library

Anyone who owns more than a few books wants to display them in an attractive a way as possible. For those who have an extensive collection, a few book shelves are simply not enough. Traditional style libraries, with wooden book cases and comfortable seating in leather upholstery, are the ideal places to make the most of a lifetime’s collection of books. Designed well, they will not only show off a collection but be a tool that will help with research and encourage writing. After all, a library that is uninviting will seldom be used. Evoking an Old World feel, traditional style libraries remain very popular, even within homes which have more contemporary styling elsewhere.

Reading Areas.

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Sometimes a library’s double function is forgotten by interior designers, so it is a good idea not to fall into that trap. For sure, a library is a place to store and access books easily. However, a traditional library should also be a place to read, too. Ensure you library has good natural light, or at least lighting that you can control. Spot lighting is the best option to go for, with a lamp to provide additional light in a specific area. Don’t just furnish your library with a comfy chair for curling up with a novel. Make sure you have a desk you can work from, or make notes at, as well. Resist the temptation to install a sound system or a television.

Wood and Leather.

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Traditional style libraries remain ever popular because they evoke warmth and Old World charm. When designing the interior of a library, make sure that you select the right materials. Stainless steel and ceramics look great but will not give you a traditional feel. Libraries call out for wood and leather, and plenty of it. Tropical hardwoods would have been used in the grand country houses of Europe in previous centuries, but for many they are simply a no go option nowadays.

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However, using a light colored softwood instead will not create this right visual appearance. There are plenty of veneers that will do the job in the hands of the right craftsman. And there are plenty of sustainably sourced woods to choose from these days. Leather upholstery on your reading room’s furniture is the ideal accompaniment to the wood on show. Choose a high quality faux leather, stained in red or green, if you don’t want to use the real thing


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Think of your library as the cultural hub of your home. So, your reading material might be old law books or medical texts, but there is bound to be some literature amongst it, too. Accentuate the cultural side of your library by selecting some artwork to hang in the room. One piece is enough to create the right effect. Don’t be tempted to hang too many works as you are not making a hybrid room of a gallery/library. Select something in keeping with the traditional nature of the room, but be bold with your choice. Remember, you can always hang another piece if you become tired of your selection.

Book Cases.

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Be a little creative with your book cases, since these will really dominate the look of the room. Floor to ceiling cases that cover the entirety of a wall make for a dramatic look, particularly if they are filled with books. However, even the most dedicated bibliophiles, can find this look austere. Break up the line of your book cases with the occasional curve. Use back lighting strips at the top to the case to add interest. Set your book cases around the existing elements of a room and, if space demands that your cases are high, install a step ladder that you can move easily.

Libraries With No Space.

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Not all homes have a vacant room ready to turn over to a library. In such cases, make your book storage evoke the feel of a traditional library, even if you cannot utilise all the elements. If your books are stored in a passage way, use spotlighting and a runner with a traditional design to set the right tone. Think about the available space and have a reading seat, or stool, as close to the area as possible, to encourage reading. A cosy corner of a room, or even a space under a stair well, will make for a library area you will want to return to.

Picture sources: 1, 2, 3, 4&5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.