As the daylight hours dwindle and a distinct chill enters the air, it’s time to snuggle up with a good book. Sure, as the saying goes, books do furnish a room — but how do you go about furnishing a room devoted to books? To build your dream library — whether it’s a dedicated room or a nook carved out of a stair landing — you’ll have to consider which furniture to include, whether you want to incorporate other treasures into your library, how to organize your books and what materials will best suit the overall style of your home.
For Brooklyn-based designer, Aaron Scott, the surest approach is usually a minimalist one. He tends toward the light-and-airy spectrum, he adds, “achievable by using white fixtures and light woods.” Built-in bookshelves, rather than individual scattered units, offer a cohesive appearance that suit any decorating style. In designing the contemporary interiors in this historic Boerum Hill co-op, he opted for a mezzanine library to take advantage of the home’s 14-foot ceilings, then added a catwalk that leads to a spare bedroom.
“This client really wanted a place to store all of their books,” Scott says about the Brooklyn loft. “So we packed them in vertically. For a different type of client more interested in an artistic display, though, I might have configured it differently, leaving room for objects and then stacking larger, coffee table books horizontally.” As it turns out, he says, the unit he built offered too many shelves — even for this book-laden family. “We ended up adding doors to the bottom shelf and converting them into cabinets so they could store other things like toys and games.”
Scott’s ingenious wall of books makes good use of the dramatic heights offered by loft living, but homes with larger footprints allow their owners to spread out and indulge in more furniture and accent pieces. Lighting becomes more critical, then, and should include both task lighting — such as a small lamp — and ambient lighting. “Ideally, I think the perfect library should also have lots of comfortable seating,” Scott says. “A nice big table or desk that allows you to lay out your books and thumb through them is always nice, too.”
It’s all there in the oak-paneled library crafted by AD Top 100 designer Daniel Romuoldez for this palatial Upper East Side townhouse. While he frequently designs modern settings, Romuoldez in this case made no compromises in working within the Old World-feel of this classic limestone mansion. A leather armchair and L-shaped sofa snuggle around a crackling fireplace, while a built-in television and an expansive desk transform the space into one that works equally well to wind down with loved ones or to read and reflect on your own.
Here are a few more great home library ideas to inspire you:
In this Brooklyn Heights townhouse, a sunny library features clean lines and bright accents like brass fixtures, modern furniture and a white faux-fur area rug.
The glossy black walls and built-in shelves of the library in this Upper West Side condo present a darkened sanctuary that the owner has enlivened with jewel-toned furnishings.
This Upper East Side condo is all about the views, and that goes for the library, too, where creamy shelves frame a picture window overlooking the East River.
Befitting its iconic setting, the library of this apartment in the Dakota offers a romantic reading retreat outfitted with comfy seating, piles of toss pillows and a sparkling crystal chandelier.