by Piwko-Bespoke Fitted Furniture

​What you need to know to create a home library

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan

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The Roman scholar Marcus Tullius Cicero said, If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Here on homify, we wholeheartedly agree! And even though we have focused on stunning gardens before (and will do so again), today we dedicate our time and creativity to helping you set up your very own home library.

We may live in the digital age, but no technology can compare to the feeling of holding a good book in your hands. And seeing as one good book deserves another, it just makes sense that you’d want to showcase your favourite reading materials in a space that’s uniquely you.  

But a home library (or study) is more than a room where we display our books. It’s a private space where we get to escape the real world for a few hours. Obviously that means that the space needs to be set up properly in terms of comfort and style, which gets us here at homify even more excited! 

So, in the essence of helping you to create your own reading nook (with complementary elements like furnishings and décor), let’s start setting up your very own home library.

1. Choose your spot

A room with doors is perfect, yet not necessary. Even a corner can be styled up into a cosy little reading nook, as long as it’s relatively quiet and not heavily trafficked. 

So, first of all, pick out a wall space which will become the focal point of your new home library (i.e. where the bookshelves will be installed). Make sure it’s privy to lots of natural lighting, or, at the very least, is capable of being adequately lit by artificial lighting sources.

2. Storing your books

MAXX—Open Shelving Units:  Living room by Regalraum UK
Regalraum UK

MAXX—Open Shelving Units

Regalraum UK

Of course the storage area of your home library will depend on how many books you have (or plan on having). If you have a large collection, floor-to-ceiling book shelves will be your best option. Maybe even built-ins if your budget allows for it. 

For smaller collections and areas, a free-standing bookcase can be ideal (and even modern), as well as floating shelves.

3. Supporting your floors

All bookworms know that books can get heavy. Now imagine a whole stack of leather-bound beauties taking up space on shelves and bookcases – how must the poor floor underneath feel? 

In selecting the space where your home library will be, make sure the floor can fully support the weight of bookshelves and their load. You wouldn’t want the floor to sag or give way, as this can put a real damper on quality reading time! 

We recommend consulting with a general contractor for assistance.

4. Setting the mood

Queen Anne's Gate:  Study/office by Glass Canvas
Glass Canvas

Queen Anne's Gate

Glass Canvas

No two bedrooms (or kitchens, or living rooms) need to be alike, so why must home libraries and studies be any different? You know how you like to feel while reading, the type of ambience you enjoy while you curl up with a good book. That’s what’s going to inspire you in styling up your home library. 

Pick a suitable colour to help create the environment. If you like the enveloping, rich feeling of old-time libraries, deep reds or luxurious browns may be your style. For something more contemporary and light-reading materials, light blues, cheery yellows or off-whites can be more suitable. 

Creating the space of your dreams starts with the colours, regardless of whether it’s for reading, sleeping or eating.

5. Include comfortable seating

Wimbledon:  Living room by LEIVARS



With an idea of the sort of colours you like, move on to the furniture part: tables and chairs. After all, nobody reads standing up, so decide what kind of seating will be more suitable.

A modern desk with swivelling chair for a more professional vibe? Perhaps a cushy sofa on which to lounge? Will you be needing a table at all?

Whatever furniture pieces you pick, make sure they all fit in comfortably with adequate leftover room for lights – either overhead or floor- and table lamps.

6. Get the right shelves / cases

Lundy Stone Grey Large Bookcase:  Living room by The Cotswold Company
The Cotswold Company

Lundy Stone Grey Large Bookcase

The Cotswold Company

A strong floor is one thing, but proper shelving is another. A 90cm-long shelf must be at least 2.5cm thick (thicker if the shelf is longer). 

Adjustable shelves are a brilliant idea, allowing you to mix and match short paperbacks and tall coffee table books without wasting space.

homify hint: There’s no reason why you can’t get creative with your shelving. Create immediate impact and visual interest in your home library with floating shelves in quirky shapes, cube-shaped cubbies installed diagonally, colour-coded bookcases, etc.

7. Add in living room details

You don’t want that home library to look too clinical, which is why details speaking of comfort and a lived-in look are vital. 

Think of fresh flowers in beautiful vases, potted plants, a gorgeous rug, scatter cushions on a sofa/chair, a painting against the wall, framed photographs, etc.  Feel free to stick a few décor pieces onto the shelves in-between those books for a bit of character.

8. Cleaning your books

Golden Hare Books:  Commercial Spaces by Mill & Jones
Mill & Jones

Golden Hare Books

Mill & Jones

Setting up a decent home library is one thing; keeping it decent is another, and that includes looking after your books. 

Think of how much dust those shelves of books will gather. Regularly cleaning them will keep you from sneezing while reading, as well as keep pests out looking to make a meal of your literary treasures. 

Remove books before cleaning a shelf with a soft cloth and some polish. When placing them back vertically with their spines facing outward for support, wipe them down with a clean microfiber cloth. It’s as simple as that!

9. Organising your library

'White' Contemporary free standing bookcase by Morassutti:  Living room by My Italian Living
My Italian Living

'White' Contemporary free standing bookcase by Morassutti

My Italian Living

There is no right way to organise your books. What works for one person / space might not be ideal for another. Play with different systems until you find one that works for you (remember that ambience you’re trying to achieve). 

Arrange your books alphabetically, according to genre, thickness, size, or whatever grabs your fancy. You can also place your stack of ‘to-read’ books at eye level for easy access and the kids’ books on lower shelves.  

We do suggest that you separate paperbacks from hardcovers. And not to pile books vertically atop each other. But apart from that, have fun selecting your stacking system!

homify hint: Display your books according to colour, which turns what could potentially be an overload of random elements into a colour-coded design. 

Have a look at these Amazing bookcases to help inspire your inner bookworm.

Did our tips help you plan and style your own home library?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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