If you love to read – or you just love books, whether you actually read them or not – consider creating a home library. Most people who don’t have a home library think that they don’t have enough space. But, by thinking creatively, you can find enough room to house your own books.
You don’t need thousands – or even hundreds – of books, and you don’t need wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor space. Below are some options for finding space to create a library that meets your needs and design aesthetic.
In the dining room
Not one, but two interior designers recommend creating a library in your dining room. “Change up the way you think about your home,” says Carolina V. Gentry of Pulp Design Studios. “You don’t have to have a formal dining room if you don’t use it, so make it a library.”
Interior designer Bethany Adams agrees. “Add shelving to your dining room and keep all of your books there,” she says. “Dining rooms tend to have a lot of unused wall space, and filling them with books creates a beautiful, almost wallpaper-like effect.”
In the kitchen
If you have cookbooks, Adams recommends taking the doors off of a kitchen cabinet and painting the inside. “If you keep your cookbooks there, they’ll be within easy reach and look great.” she says. “Just be sure never to store your books in a room that gets a lot of humidity like the basement or a bathroom – that environment is not friendly to your tomes.”
In the bedroom
How often do you fall asleep while reading? You might as well put your library in one of your bedrooms. If you have a second bedroom that you only need to use a few times a year, Gentry recommends investing in a fold-out loveseat or sofa so you can turn this room into a library. “Be sure to create a cozy mood, and use comfy seating,” she says. Gentry also recommends filling a focal wall with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to create a library feel.
Josie Abate at Ambience Express agrees and adds, “Built-in shelving can accommodate any size space so you can easily squeeze a home library in any room of the home, whether it be a bedroom or a corner of your living room.” She suggests adding a bench under a window with shelving around it for the perfect place to curl up with a good book.
In the home office
If you have a home office, donate one of the walls to create a floor-to-ceiling library. If you’re worried about the space you might lose, remember that you can also put most of your office equipment on the shelves.
Around the entertainment center
“Often, people store their books in the closets of ordinary entertainment centers, according to Katy Brut, interior design consultant at NY Furniture Outlets. She says it’s important to decide if you want to display your books to everyone, perhaps next to photos and souvenirs, or if you would rather keep your collection private. This will determine if you should get open or closed bookshelves. If you don’t have a lot of floor space around your entertainment center, consider mounting slimline bookshelves.
Creative wall-mounted shelves
If you don’t want traditional rows of bookshelves, consider this type of shelving, which doesn’t take up a lot of visual space, and can also double as artwork.
In the attic
If you have a finished attic, it’s another ideal location for a library. You can carve space out of your walls, so you won’t have to take up any floor space.
“Is there an odd nook that never made any sense to you?” asks Justin Riordan, founder of Portland-based Spade and Archer Design Agency. “Maybe a staircase where a dead space has troubled you for years. Those areas provide plenty of library space.”
Also consider the area around your fireplace. “Many homes have a flat, blank wall with a fireplace smack dab in the middle,” Riordan says. “I love the idea of surrounding that fireplace with floor-to-ceiling custom shelving and filling it with books. It can take a cold, contrite fireplace and make it into a literal reading room.”
And if you have tall ceilings, you can also take advantage of wasted space higher up. In the photo above, the homeowners created a library at the top of the room.
“To create a home library you can focus one or two walls of shelving to house all your books and an area with a comfortable chair or bench seating, preferably by a window for natural light,” Abate says. “If you have more room a desk is always a nice add on to a home library, it will become a space that can double as an office.”
She also recommends creating a library nook under the stairs. “You would need to install custom shelving to fit the exact size of your nook,” Abate says. “You can also incorporate a bench with artwork under the stairs for the complete reading nook.”
Sometimes, it’s hard to design around and decorate circular areas. However, curving a wall of bookshelves is the perfect solution. And the windows allow plenty of natural light into the library.
Don’t forget about other areas in your home that can serve as a library. According to interior designer Dawn Totty, in addition to your attic, consider an unused hallway closet or pantry. “Depending on your ceiling height, shelves or built-ins can go as high as 12′ from floor-to-ceiling,” she says. If you use higher shelving Totty recommends a custom rail-ladder system. “Be sure to use plenty of brackets since a large number of books can be quite heavy.”
Totty also recommends using medium to darker stained wood finishes. “This will create a stately and traditional library look,” she says. “Add a couple of comfy leather chairs, a large area rug, and floor and table lights for task lighting.” Or, you could use dark wood on the floor. Since black is the stylish color of every year, you could paint one wall black, and make the other walls and the bookshelves white.
However, if you prefer a lighter and brighter feel, she offers the following advice: “Position a cozy upholstered chair or two with a wall mounted electric white fireplace, add a fun chandelier and load up your walls with painted open concept shelves for books and staging collectibles.”