Every home should have a nook to enjoy a book
Books – we all have them – some we inherit, others we collect along the way, and as our families expand, we get more! So, how to accommodate a library, of any scale, so that it feels integral to the home?
This is about dedicating space to one purpose. It does not follow that you have to own a mansion to afford the luxury of a library – the design for this area can be tailored to suit both space and budget.
A collection of books, be those modern, antique or a mixture of both, when arranged, will have a unique character, by virtue of the interest and furnishing value offered by the books alone. From an interior design perspective, libraries present a wealth of opportunity. Keep them central to the home. A wide passage linking hall to drawing room can be lined with shallow shelves and filled with books and other objects. Gently lit with a combination of discreet angled downlighters, swing-arm library lights and a rug runner atop timber boards, this passage will assume the character of a room in its own right, one in which to pause a while, rather than rush on through.
Other spaces may be commandeered for the library cause – notably under stairs, large landings and cross passages. The library ambience is like no other – a studious, artistic quality coupled with a sense of history and an air of mystery – of something waiting to be discovered. Enjoy the pleasure of a collection of books in a more unlikely location. If well-ventilated, an elevation in the bathroom offers interesting bathing browsing, line out an entire cloakroom or enjoy a dining-come-library styled interior.
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The bookcases themselves are crucial to a scheme and there are solutions for every situation. Fitted bookcases can be expensive, but for some, they are seen as an investment for a lifetime – and rightly so. Tailored exactly to your needs and to the architecture of the building, there is no need to compromise. For many, however, a single elevation will suffice and free-standing options are appealing. A myriad of forms and finishes, in particular from our French colleagues, ensures some wonderfully imaginative pieces.
Whether you opt for polished or painted carcases, there are a number of features to consider. Adjustable shelves enable one to accommodate a range of book sizes and a shifting collection. Contrast the finish of the inside and back – a stronger paint colour, fabric or antiqued mirror – all adding relief where books or accessories do not fill the entire shelf. Where ambience is more important than actual storage, exploit one of the fabulously styled library wallpapers on offer. The latest offering from Osborne & Little, pictured left, is a colourful tribute to the classic Penguin book jackets.
Allow yourself to be aesthetically driven and group your books in swathes of colour. Shelves that feature blocks of red, of blue and of sienna – the result, an elevation of three dimensions that takes a 'Mondrian-esque' stance.
Look to incorporate other furniture aside from the bookcase, in which to display yet more volumes. Revolving bookcases would suit a smaller space and, when combined with a battered leather club chair and handsome floor lamp, this will create the perfect cosy corner. Full-height versions that are secured top and bottom may be positioned mid-interior in among seating ensembles for sculptured stature.
Caroline Palk, BIID member, runs Ashton House Design, C2 Linhay Business Park, Eastern Road, Ashburton TQ13 7UP. Showroom open weekdays 9am-5.30pm, Saturdays 10am-4pm. Call 01364 653563 or visit www.ashtonhousedesign.co.uk.