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How to Design A Home Library

Hit the books in style with these home library ideas

Linda Holmes
By Linda Holmes, Interiors Director

Nothing quite encompasses the true essence of heritage design like an at-home library. A step up from a classic bookcase, the library brings with it a sense of seclusion and romanticism in the very best of ways. Surrounded by timeless tales and a lifetime of learning, there’s nowhere a deep wingback armchair or an extraordinary antique executive desk is more at home.

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Start with a library bookcase

Perhaps the most essential element of any library, walls of bookshelves are what distinguish this space from the average study and impeccably crafted cabinetry, reaching floor to ceiling, offers enough room for your collection to continue to grow. Invest in expert carpentry here for detailing that endures (cornicing and panels only add to the prestige) or back the shelving in custom textured finishes for added depth. And don’t forget to style the shelves. A few accent sculptures or framed memories provide an instant personal touch in this intimate space.

Make it feel inviting with a traditional sofa

No space for reading is complete without seating that inspires you to while away the hours in serenity. Think deep seats with high backs and plenty of plump cushions. Hark back to traditional design with turned wooden legs and velvet or woollen upholstery. Consider deep tones for a moodier look or lighter fabrics for a modern take. If space allows, the enduring roll arm sofa exudes classic comfort.

How to Design A Home Library | Style Guide
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Add storage with a wooden desk with drawers

Though seating might be one of the most predominant pieces of library furniture, the equally-important desk makes for a substantial focal point in the space. Traditionally imposing in their form, library desks make a statement when oversized with drawers lining either side. Consider one topped with leather for an indulgent bit of texture or opt for a modern look with thinner legs for a weightless feel.

Create Ambience with Antique Lighting

Lighting is crucial to the success of every space and in task areas such as a library even more so. Characteristically combining warmth and practicality, the library requires special consideration when it comes to ambience. Integrating accent lighting into the joinery offers understated illumination, whilst wall sconces or picture lights introduce soft metal tones and a gravitas of libraries gone by. For a truly cosy look, avoid cool-toned bulbs and enjoy the atmosphere of warm ambient light. Finish the space with an antique brass floor lamp overhanging your armchairs and, of course, a desk lamp for a subtle nod to the scholastic.

Header image credit: Laura Hammett