8 Home Library Ideas to Make Your Book Collection a Focal Point

published May 11, 2023
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Sitting area with green wall-to-wall bookshelf, floral chairs, and round leather ottoman

In a world where digital commodities like photos, movies, and music have all but supplanted their analog equivalents, one could easily assume that hard-copy books would fade from relevance as well. But book lovers are a tenacious bunch, and many not only prefer the weight of pages in their hands, but are also more inclined to put their love of literature on display. 

In fact, I’ve spotted quite a few libraries popping up on the house tour section of AT. Some have the space to devote an entire room to their collections, while others cleverly squeeze books into any nook they can. In case you are a fellow bibliophile wondering how you might best showcase your favorite titles, here are eight home library ideas that will inspire you to create a stylish spot in your own home — where curling up with great read is bound to be a lasting tradition.

A Dark Library with Speakeasy Vibes in Oak Park

It took two years of renovations for Elizabeth Hernandez to accomplish the vision she had for her Oak Park home. Thanks to her dad, who helped her with the remodel, her space now looks and feels exactly how she had hoped — like a dark, tranquil library. Inky blue walls and dual Chesterfield sofas upholstered in navy leather anchor the room, while a wall of matching blue shelves holding books, wine, and liquor lend a speakeasy vibe. 

Credit: Emily Simmons

A Cozy Library Nook in San Francisco

Emily Simmons had always dreamed of having a room lined with mahogany bookcases, but the clean-and-airy feel of her San Francisco apartment called for a lighter touch. Instead, she opted for a pair of white ladder-style shelves that lean against the wall. Tucked into a small corner, the library nook offers small pops of color in a mostly neutral space. And its shelves are “laden with books and a lifetime of objects,” which Simmons feels speak so much to her personality.

A Living-Room Library in Ukraine

Before Helen Henz and her mother remodeled their Ukraine apartment, they decided it should be sophisticated and whimsical, too. Because their book collection totaled over 1,000 titles, they decided the living room could pull double-duty as a library and dedicated an entire wall to it — even extending the book shelves over the door. By painting the shelving a soft sage and hanging brass sconces, the room has the sense of refinement they wanted, while the folkloric mural wallpapered on the opposite wall adds whimsy. 

Credit: Erin Derby

A Mini Fireplace Library in Brooklyn

When you’re the founder of a book club, like Nina Haines, you’re going to need to get creative with your book storage — especially if you live in a railroad-style apartment in Brooklyn. There are over 500 books in Haines’s personal library, and she has found many resourceful ways to organize and display them. Floating wall shelves, ladder bookcases, and a shelf lamp are all examples of clever book storage, but perhaps her most unique idea was to utilize the fireplace in her bedroom as a mini library. With books stacked inside, lining the outside, and on top of the mantel, it creates a stylish and unexpected focal point.

Credit: Heather Shilan

A Library with Vintage Vibes in British Columbia

Surrounded by two acres of forest with stunning views of Shuswap Lake, the Canadian home of David and Mitzi is a nature-lover’s paradise. It’s the type of place that practically begs you to read and relax in the great outdoors. Because both homeowners are avid readers and have hundreds of books between them, they placed bookshelves in each bedroom, even the kids’ room, and filled them with the many titles in their collection. Nestled among the books are unique treasures from Mitzi’s Etsy shop that lend a vintage vibe to her home library.

Credit: Erin Derby

A Floating Library in NYC

When living in a 450-square-foot home, you need to maximize every inch of space you can. That’s just what Brendan Dugan and Kiersten Krog did in their New York City apartment on the Lower East Side. To house the voluminous collection of books that Krog has acquired from her “bookstagram,” Dugan installed floating shelves throughout the space to utilize the walls for vertical storage. Despite their home’s modest footprint, they use one of the space’s bedrooms as a library, where their books, artwork, and ceramics live harmoniously.

Credit: Jenn Jacobs and Phil Shore
The Living Room

An Over-the-Desk Library in Brooklyn 

Creating a comfortable haven to come home to in the evenings after work was Jenn Jacobs and Phil Shore’s goal when decorating their Brooklyn apartment. For them, that meant prioritizing art and books as the focal point instead of a television. So they hung original work over the fireplace and installed two bookcases in their living room — one of which is a series of floating shelves over their desk area. The result is a stylish display of their literary collection, which pops against the dark blue paint on the wall.

Credit: Jason Rampe

A Botanical Library in Park Slope

The light and airy feeling of a treehouse is what drew artist Maggie Mae and her boyfriend, Jesse, to their apartment in Park Slope. They didn’t waste time filling it with her original artwork or various instruments from his work as a musician. And seeing as they’re both big readers, they installed his-and-her bookshelves in the living room, filling the shelves with titles that reflect their individual interests (musical biographies and plays for him, and art books and poetry for her). Unifying the two shelves are a series of terra-cotta pots with trailing plants that offer a beautiful botanical touch.