How To Design A Home Library

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Perfect for anyone with a love for books, an in-home library provides the convenience and the luxury of enjoying your collection in comfort and style. Formerly found only in large and extravagant homes, personal libraries are becoming more popular in the average family home. While having a separate room entirely dedicated to your collection of books is the best way to create an in-home library, it is not always necessary.

Select A Room

To begin the process of designing and creating your home library, first pick the location within your home where you would like it to be. Rooms you do not plan to use for any other purpose work best. Some good locations to set up a library include:

  • Spare bedrooms
  • Dens
  • Living rooms
  • Studies

Do not build a library in basements, as they can become damp or flood and damage your collection of books. Further, avoid creating a library in rooms with excessive sunlight, as this too can damage books. The best locations are dry, but kept darker than the average room to prevent fading.

If you do not have a spare room to dedicate solely to the library, consider dedicating one wall of your living room, den, bedroom or study to a single, large bookshelf. While the entire room won't be designated to your books, having one expanse of wall designed around them can be nearly as impactful.

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Once you have selected the room in which you will place your library, the next step is creating the perfect arrangement of functional and stylish furniture. Every home library should include the following:

  • Large wooden bookcases, arranged along two to four of the room's walls
  • Large reading desks to spread out reference books and paperwork
  • Comfortable reading chairs to enjoy your favorite books in
  • Side tables next to every chair or couch
  • A library ladder for tall bookshelves

If you rent your property, it is a good idea to only use freestanding bookshelves rather than installing recessed ones. If you own your property and are free to renovate as you please, recessed shelves offer the storage of full sized bookshelves without encroaching on the size of the room.

For rooms only partially dedicated to your personal library, purchase a single large bookshelf to place against one wall of the room, as well as a comfortable reading chair in one corner.


Once the large pieces of furniture have been purchased, installed and arranged, it's time to select the perfect accessories and decorations for your home library. Adding these final touches will not only add function, but classic library style to your home collection. Accessories can even be customized to the theme of your architectural and interior style. To decorate your home library, include:

  • Table lamps on the reading desk and any side tables
  • Floor lamps to provide lighting anywhere else it's needed in the room
  • Area rugs to add color and texture to these typically all wooden rooms
  • Artwork or collectibles meaningful to you
  • Candles, if kept far away from bookshelves
  • Plants add greenery and life to these sometimes stuffy rooms

Book Arrangement

Now that your room has been chosen and decorated, it is time to arrange the books. It is easy to forget how visible your collection will be, allowing the books to actually become part of the library's décor. While some people choose to arrange their book collections by the Dewey Decimal Classification System or the Library of Congress Classification System, another popular way to organize your books is by appearance. Consider grouping your collection by color or size. Shelves of single colored books create an artistic sense, while arranged scales of small to large books give an edgy feel to your library. Other ways to organize your books include:

  • Chronologically by the date you purchased them
  • Prioritized by read and unread
  • Grouped by the frequency of their use
  • Alphabetically

Creating and designing your own home library requires a passion for reading, and a little style. Pick comfortable, functional furniture to compliment the room and provide the perfect space for enjoying your books. Add lamps where needed, rugs to supply color and plants to liven the room and your own home library is complete.

Last Updated: July 21, 2011
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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