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5 Inspiring Home Library Ideas

home library ideas

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Exceptional homes often feature expansive rooms with wall-to-wall bookshelves for owners to showcase their literary love. Private libraries are popular among traditional designers favouring classic, warm interiors and book enthusiasts who need space for stowing and reading. Avid bookworms might prioritise the literature in their libraries more than designers, who focus on visual appearances and accessories. However, both agree on the comfort and class associated with rooms solely dedicated to literary collections.

Home library design ideas and tips

Designers, literary buffs and do-it-yourself enthusiasts will love these 5 home library ideas and tips.

Choose a location

home library

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Homeowners can convert unused rooms, such as home offices, living rooms, nooks and stair landings, into libraries. Avoid storing books in basements or attics, as increased humidity may lead to mould and critter infestations. Also, basements are notorious for flooding, which would likely ruin books on un-elevated shelves. At the same time, overly bright, sun-filled spaces tend to damage books. Because natural elements weather covers quickly, opt for interior rooms or nooks with limited sun exposure on the first or second floors of homes. Northern-facing windows tend to provide steady sunlight that is less harmful to books, but hang window treatments for increased protection.

Select lighting

home library design

Image Source: Zillow Digs

Depending on a home’s layout, some rooms welcome more natural light than others. While visibility is necessary for comfortable reading, traditional libraries are mostly dim. Scatter table and floor lamps to provide ample, but unobtrusive, task lighting. Ambient lighting from fireplaces or wall sconces cast warm glows and create authentic library atmospheres. Accent lights, placed on molding or fixed to shelves, concentrate on individual sections, which makes reading book spines much easier. Finally, candles can be calming additions to reading rooms, but make sure to blow them out whenever the space is vacant.


home library furniture

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Ordering large collections ensures easy access and safekeeping. Consider alphabetising by author for fiction books, and sort nonfiction sections by subject matter such as history or politics. Designers might choose to arrange their books according to colour for aesthetic purposes. Tech-savvy homeowners can organise their libraries digitally with software programs that track personal inventory. Online programs, such as LibraryThing, allow users to categorise a limited number of novels for free, or pay a fee for unlimited services. Delicious Monster is a Mac computer program that comes with a barcode scanner for easy documentation. With these electronic databases, homeowners know where to find their favorite books at all times. And, in case of break-in or natural disaster, documentation of ownership is always online, which is imperative for valuable, rare or signed pieces of literature.

Furnish appropriately

home library shelving

Image Source: Jerry Jacobs Design

Books require ample shelving for storage and display. Bookcase sizes depend on collection magnitude and available square footage. Before purchasing storage units, measure the deepest book. Additionally, allow enough space between shelves for book height. Typical novels are about nine inches high, but encyclopedias, atlases and textbooks can be much taller than average. Homeowners who collect special books might consider custom built-ins. While expensive to install, custom bookshelves ensure proper sizing, and are major selling points when it comes time to put homes on the market in the future.

Homeowners should aim for warm but uncluttered library furniture layouts. Rooms with windows are nicely complemented by built-in window seats or benches, ideal for storing blankets and pillows. Pin-tuck furnishings including sofas and armchairs enhance the rich, traditional appearance of libraries, and are plush enough for homeowners to comfortably relax on while reading.

Add décor

home library bookshelves

Image Source: Zillow Digs

Most traditional libraries follow design rules to achieve classic appearances. Décor accents vary from large to small and also widely depend on room dimensions. For instance, tall libraries appear stately when paired with sliding ladders. Modest elements, such as clocks and statues, complement any size library. Personalise with family photos and travel souvenirs. Key accents include oriental rugs, upholstered furniture and window treatments, all providing the timeless cosiness of home libraries. However, homeowners should get creative with their décor and incorporate inspirational pieces to relax and enjoy the literature surrounding them.

Whether aiming for a luxurious, traditional home library or a more modern and fresh space to store book collections, personal libraries are a must for literary buffs.

Need help designing and building custom shelving or designing your home library? Post a job on Rated People in our Carpenter / Joiner category to receive quotes from our qualified and trusted tradesmen.

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