Give your personal library some personality! A bold area rug and stripes flanking the entry add drama to this personal library. Newly built homes in Camberly Place at Stonebrae. Hayward, Calif.
By Seve Kale
“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”
— Mark Twain
Mark Twain was on to something — despite owning a Kindle, I’m still inexplicably drawn to the tangible ink and paper of a traditional book.
Personal libraries in all shapes and sizes are a fantastic way to celebrate and display your love of the written word. I spoke with several architects and designers who feel the same way and were generous enough to give me some insight into how to incorporate a library into your new home — and why it’s important.
The following five steps will have you on your way to creating your own literary oasis:
1. Don’t be Afraid to Think Big — Or Small
Perhaps the most important rule of home libraries I learned is that there are no rules. “Pick something you like, and make the room cozy and workable,” says designer Joan Fradella. “Make sure you design a room you can feel comfortable in, as well as proud to show to guests,” she went on to say.
2. Meld Comfort and Style
You may have the most gorgeous library in the world, but if it isn’t comfortable, you won’t spend any time relaxing there. “Finding more reasons to spend time in a library is essential to me so that the spaces are enjoyed — a TV, a fireplace, comfortable furniture, possibly a small bar, a good desk with hidden away office support space,” says Eric J. Smith, an architect based in New York City.
3. Not Just for Books
Many of the exceptional libraries our designers created aren’t just for books — that’s a common misconception, according to Smith. Instead, include what inspires you — an antique map, family photographs or your vinyl collection.
4. Be Creative
The literary world is your oyster, as far as inspiration is considered. “Libraries in older homes and clubs in England, France and Austria are great inspiration for the classic libraries — also places like the book room at the University Club in New York City or the collegiate libraries at Columbia and Berkeley,” says Smith.
5. Have a System!
The organization of your books can add just as much character to your library as structural elements and design features. Don’t forget to be practical: “You should count all of your books early in the process — not just individually but also by the linear footages of storage.”
Once you’ve accounted for space, will you take the utilitarian route and organize everything by author or genre? Will you create an elaborate ranking system and file everything that way? No need to stand by the Dewey Decimal System you learned in grade school — it’s your library, you can file how you want to.
Seve Kale is a writer for NewHomeSource. You can find her on Google+.