Top Ten Tips For Designing a Home Library

A library should be both impressive and inviting. Top Ten Tips for the library of your dreams. Showcase what you love in your collection AND in your design.

1. You don’t have to display all your books

Consider using a combination of open shelves and closed storage. Glass doors are great for preserving older and more precious volumes. Solid doors and even drawers let you keep the not-so-pretty books in the room but out of sight.

2. Have a system

Arrange your books on purpose instead of just sticking them on the shelves. If you’re going for aesthetics, designers love to arrange books by color. But if you need to be able to locate books quickly, you’ll want to have a system, whether it’s alphabetical, by subject, or even the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress system.

3. Keep the layout simple

A library is not a place you want to feel overwhelmed (unless it’s by sheer beauty, of course). Don’t clutter the space with too much furniture, and keep it simple with books on the outside and seating in the middle.

4. Choose classic accessories

It’s easy to picture the traditional, Oxford-style library with globes, maps, and old-style portraits in gilded frames. They’re things that will always feel at home in a library. But don’t be afraid to give them an update. Modern artwork, stylized maps, and globes in unexpected colors give you a modern take on the classics.

5. Balance style and comfort

There’s nothing quite like a plush chair to just sink into with a good book. Have at least one spot that’s strictly for comfort, like a corner nook or a window seat. Then keep it varied with stylish pieces like a chaise longue and enough seating for company.

6. Include a workspace

A library should have space for both work and relaxation. A desk or table for work, study, or homework is a must and helps you get the most out of your space.

7. Invest in great lighting

Natural light is great for reading but not great for preserving books, so make sure you have window coverings and plenty of lamps. Sconces between shelving units add light and style. And pendant lights are stylish and useful for lighting up a table or desk.

8. Make it luxurious

An intricate rug, a chandelier, even a couple of candelabra—your library should have things that give it a luxury feel. Leather does the trick, too. But if you want to go bigger, think fireplace and spiral staircase.

9. Build in extra space

Give yourself extra shelf space so your collection can grow over time, especially if you’re planning to stay in your home longterm. In the meantime, fill the gaps with art, souvenirs, interesting objects, and eye-catching bookends.

10. Give it flair

Your library should have something unexpected that reflects your own unique style. And make sure there’s contrast to keep things interesting, whether it’s a bright color or bold artwork. Make your library yours.

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