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Home Library Design

Home Library Design

Growing up I always dreamed of having a special home library like the one I saw as a child at Biltmore House in Asheville.  An extravagant two-story room with rich dark paneling and thousands of books from which to choose.  Through the years, the details of that library have changed a bit but the dream of a home library stills lives on.

With the invention of the Kindle and ever popular e-books, incorporating a space in your home for hard bound books may seem like an old fashioned idea.  However,  home library design is not only for storing books today but it can have a number of other functions as well. It  can be a great place to work, study and relax.  The key to designing a successful home library space is to make it a reflection of the homeowner, not only in the choice of the books it holds but also in the style and placement of the shelving itself.

When designing your library there are a few things to consider.

Location: A home library does not have to be large to be special.  It can be a small, cozy space in the corner of a bedroom where one can retreat to another world  or an accent a wall in an office, hallway or dining room.  I love to add shelves to any room.   In fact, dining rooms are a great place to house your collection, giving a useful purpose to an often underused space.  If the square footage allows for it, add an accent table or bench where you can stack and display your favorite volumes in an informal way.  In a room with a high ceiling, consider adding a stylish ladder to accent and access the higher shelves.

Style:  Formal or casual, traditional or modern.  Do you prefer traditional elements or are you more modern? Your bookcases should incorporate elements which reflect your taste.  Simply adding a bookcase to a featured wall creates a wonderful focal point and conversation piece, the details of which will speak volumes about the homeowner.  A good starting place may be  to ask yourself, “ how do I want to feel in this space?”  Do you want to create a fun and casual vibe or a more serious reflective environment?

Material and finish: Stained, painted or even lacquered wood may be used or perhaps a cable system of hanging shelves are more your style.  There are many options to consider, so take your time to choose the right combination of materials to create the type of environment you desire.  An often overlooked element in shelving is the back wall.  Consider adding your favorite wallpaper, an accent paint color or even mirrors which will add both dimension and visual interest.

Custom or modular:  Built in bookcases add architectural interest and can increase the value of your home, while modular bookcases or something manufactured by your favorite furniture company can be taken with you when you move.  There are a variety of sources and price points, from IKEA to higher end furniture companies from which to choose.   IKEA even has an online tool that will help you to design your own library shelving; visit and check out how you can transform a corner of your room into a fantastic reading space.

Lighting: Light fixtures offer another opportunity to express your unique style.  Whether you prefer a contemporary track system, adjustable pendants, simple recessed fixtures or an extravagant chandelier, lighting helps to add drama and a bit of ambiance to the environment.  I always recommend adding dimmers to lighting, which will give you ultimate control over the amount of light you desire.

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Seating:  No matter where you locate your library,  having a place to sit and read is important.  Finding the right seat depends on the amount of space as well as your individual reading style.  If your space is limited, consider adding a bench seat where you can review the selections before moving to another space to read.

Art:  Remember that bookshelves can house more than just books.  Add special mementos, art and other collectables that celebrate your life and reflect your personality.  This will also create conversation starters when entertaining.

Books:  Filling your shelves doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  When adding to your collection of books look into local resources that offer gently used books at reasonable prices.  This will save you money and give your library a more time honored feel.

A stylish home library can create a wonderful retreat for homeowners.  We all deserve an occasional break to unwind and relax with our favorite book and there is no better place to experience this than in our own home library.  We hope these ideas will help inspire you to create your own private space where you can grab a book, your favorite latte and enjoy!  If you would like to preview more of our favorite home library interiors, please visit our blog at

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