Designing a Home Library

If you are a book lover, you probably have a large book collection. A home library is an ideal solution not only for housing and displaying your books but also for providing a retreat for you to enjoy reading them. A home library can also be a cozy spot for visiting with guests. Careful planning can ensure that your home library is both functional and comfortable. In designing a home library, there are five essential elements to consider: location, storage and shelving, lighting, layout and whether the library will be a dedicated space or shared with a home office.

Location, Location, Location
A home library need not be large, but there should be sufficient space to house your books along with comfortable seating and lighting. While a separate room is ideal, a secluded corner of another living space will also suffice as a home library. The library should be located away from heavily trafficked areas and, of course, quiet enough for reading.

Storage and Shelving
The shelving you choose for your home library should allow for easy access to your books and be sturdy enough to hold their weight. Avoid shelving that is overly deep. Wood or wood-look shelves provide a classic look to your home library, but metal or even plastic shelving can give a home library a sleek, modern look. If you own your home, consider anchoring shelving to the wall for added stability, especially if your shelves are high. Consider obtaining a stepladder to make reaching high shelves easier.

You’ll also want to allow room for at least one chair and perhaps a footstool. If your home library is not a dedicated space, you may need to consider other types of storage in addition to shelving, such as a chest. If your library will also serve as a home office, you’ll need to allow room for a desk, chair and perhaps an additional chair.

Proper Lighting
Proper lighting is essential for a home library. There should be at least one light for every seating area. If your library shares space with a home office, provide additional lighting for working at the desk or computer. Avoid overhead lighting.

Furniture Layout
If you intend for your library to serve as a solo retreat, perhaps a single favorite chair plus footrest is all the furniture you’ll need. If you will share your library with other members of your household, you will need an additional chair or two. Space seating sufficiently so that everyone sharing the room can read quietly without feeling crowded. If the home library shares space with a home office, ideally the desk should be placed on an opposite wall. The flow of the furniture should allow easy access in and out of the library as well as access to the books.

Shared or Dedicated Space?
Many home libraries serve a dual purpose as home offices or as sitting rooms. If your library shares space with a home office, choose a room that is large enough to accommodate bookshelves, seating, lighting, a desk and chairs, plus wiring and outlet for computers, printers and other hardware. This may also require scaling down furniture size in smaller rooms to ensure that everything fits.