44 Inspiring Home Library Ideas

1

Merge Two Rooms

a chair in front of a bookshelf
Lesley Unruh

When you’re tight on space but still want to include a designated area for your books, combine two rooms into one. Designer CeCe Barfield Thompson merged the dining room and library in this Manhattan apartment to make the most of the space. “It’s more of a nighttime room,” she says. “This room had the least sun exposure in the apartment and by painting it a dark color, that contrast actually helps to make the space feel lighter.” Plus, it’ll make those late nights up reading all the more cozy.

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2

Perfect Your Study Space

a room with a desk and chairs
Regan Wood/Regan Wood Photography

It only makes sense to have your working desk alongside your bookshelves, but what about within your bookshelves? Designer Drew McGuckin created the ideal work zone when he added a desk, cabinets, and bookshelves to this little nook.

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3

Embrace the Trellis Trend

a green chair in front of a bookshelf
Jonathan Bond Photography

Make your bookshelves a bit more charming by adding in traditional design features, like the painted latticework at the bottom of these shelves. Elizabeth Hay, a designer based in Singapore who’s from the UK, needed a home base when visiting relatives, so she transformed a neutral-colored English cottage into a colorful retreat. The trellises add beautiful character and dimension to the space.

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4

Make It a Retreat

porchuckrdwritersstudio
DURSTON SAYLOR

Architect Eric Smith created this gallery of bookshelves lined with 1,700 volumes of poetry that leads to a writing room surrounded by nature, providing a calming space for escape and self-reflection. Smith explains the goal “was to create a built expression of an artist’s creative process, from start to finish.” He adds that “the poet’s desk is centrally located in the 180-degree view, [and] the forest surrounds you at mid-tree height.”

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5

Choose a Calming Palette

a blue couch in a room
Cati Teague

Greens, blues, and other cooler shades are ideal to use in a relaxing room. Follow in designer Gina Sims’s footsteps for your own library and choose a muted green for the walls and a pale blue couch that’s as cozy as it is stylish.

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6

Include Gold Accents

a room with a table and chairs
Julie Soefer

The touches of gold along the shelves of this built-in bookcase add a stunning, unexpected pop of brightness to the dark, moody room in this Texas renovation. Besides the shelves, Sydney Manning from interior design firm Marie Flanigan added gold picture frames and sconces as well to this space, connecting the finishes throughout this room.

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7

Be Unconventional

new york city apartment designed by katie ridder
Alison Gootee

Embrace quirky, unexpected desires in your own home. Traditional libraries tend to be made up of dark woods and moody accents, but this vibrant space by Katie Ridder challenges that vision. Many aspects of this project were unconventional, like discussing paint colors with the client during the first design meeting, but Ridder’s client knew she wanted a bold, green library from the start.

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8

Incorporate Your Television

family room a custom wo and sconce sheds light on both sides of the noble souls sectional in perennials linen chair and ottoman sigurd ressell, finch hudson rug custom ottoman custom, in pollack wool 19th century carriage house in montclair nj interior design elaine santos designarchitect windigo architecture minimal and modern accents
Joshua McHugh

If peace and quiet isn’t your ideal reading environment, then put a TV along with your bookshelves to give you some constant background noise. Designer Elaine Santos created this communal family room perfect for the avid reader and those who prefer their media in screen form alike.

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9

Make It a Nook

shavonda gardner, home tour, sacramento, ca reading nook a deeply comfy vintage chair makes this pass through a destination paint caviar, sherwin williams bookcase ikea pillow xasmin interiors rug rugs usa art naomi and shavonda wedding broom
Katie Newburn

No room for an entire library? No problem—you can still create a styled reading nook to house your books and your comfiest, vintage chair. The white flashes in the rug and blanket pull together the white bookshelf in this otherwise moody and dark space by designer Shavonda Gardner.

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10

Incorporate Sports Memorabilia

a room with a bookcase and a ladder
Michael Hunter

Whether you’re cheering for your favorite team or you’re reminiscing on college football careers of the past, like Sherrell Neal’s client, then consider repping your team even in your home library. “Providing my clients floor-to-ceiling work-from-home solutions personalized to their needs converted this formerly untouched front room into a space for the entire family to enjoy and curate their proudest moments,” the designer said.

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11

Sprinkle In Heirlooms

a room with a bookshelf and a couch
Sean Litchfield

One way to make a new furnishing feel more suited to your home is by incorporating older pieces. In the case of Thiara Borges’s clients, the majority of the design budget went to creating these custom built-ins for the library, but she helped make the brand new shelves feel more meaningful by adding in family heirlooms throughout and in the surrounding area.

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12

Make It Maximalist

melinda and john thomas james pied terre in houstons museum district interior designer m james design group
Douglas Friedman

Balance your books with playful patterns, layered art, and an assortment of accessories to create the ultimate welcoming, intriguing space. Melinda and John Thomas James from M. James Design Group created this gorgeous living room that doubles as a library.

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13

Choose a Pastel Palette

melissa lasalle's 1930s colonial style home outside of washington, dc
Stacy Zarin Goldberg

This pastel lilac hue for this part-living-room, part-home-library was used to help differentiate the older parts of this 1930s home with the newer. Designer Melissa Colgan wanted the freshly reconfigured sections to feel lighter and brighter than the original brick section of the house which skews more saturated and traditional. “We commissioned custom bookshelves to highlight [the client’s] rare and first editions of books like Winnie-the-Pooh and Pinocchio. Then, I suggested we paint the room purple. She said, ‘Let’s try it!'” Colgan says.

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14

Shut Your Books Away

pied terre in paris designed by garrow kedigian
Trevor Tondro

Don’t let the idea of clutter stop you from creating the home library of your dreams—simply install some shelves that allow you to close your books away in a glass case. In his Paris pied-á-terre, designer Garrow Kedigian installed these new built-ins to store away his novels and accessories, creating the antique look with vintage hardware he found at the Paris Flea Market.

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15

Create a Luxe Corner

house beautiful whole home 2023 1906 hinsdale\, illinois house
KEVIN J. MIYAZAKI

In the guest room of our Whole Home 2023, designer Rasheeda Gray of Gray Space Interiors added a calming, elegant reading corner with two options for seating. With natural light from the window and the glossy ceiling to reflect it, this nook is an ideal spot to curl up with a good book.

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16

Make It Multipurpose

house beautiful whole home 2023 1906 hinsdale\, illinois house
KEVIN J. MIYAZAKI

Treat your library as a multipurpose room, like designer Kate Marker did in our Whole Home 2023 library. Not only can this room keep your favorite books, but it’s essentially a second family room with areas for crafts, a dry bar, a game table, and plenty of seating.

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17

Hang Artwork

home library shelving
Lisa Romerein

“The room doesn’t get a lot of light, so I decided to make it cozy and turned it into an English-style portrait room, which is ridiculous, but fun,” says celebrity chef Alex Hitz. He lined his study with books from floor to ceiling and then hung a portrait of his friend Nan Kempner by Peter Rogers. Across from the armchairs is a statement wall upholstered in Gastón y Daniela’s Tree of Life fabric.

18

Make It Modern

modern home library design
Fiona Lynch

From the inky stained wood to the modern side chair and clean-lined ladder, this home library designed by Fiona Lynch is a gorgeous contemporary space.

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19

Hide It

creative home library design ideas
Studio Seilern

This library designed by Studio Seilern has so many glorious hidden quirks. In fact, the room itself is a secret, as you enter through a door disguised as a bookshelf. And though there are only two levels, the mirrored ceiling gives the illusion of a never-ending tower of books.

20

Choose On-Theme Wallpaper

library wallpaper ideas
Tim Street-Porter

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