A beautiful home library is enough to give any book lover major envy. We dream of an expansive room that houses floor to ceiling rows of books bound in leather where we can curl up for hours. Where has the home library gone? If you’re looking to display your books, here are a few tips to help you build a home library.
Today they’re gaining in popularity but have undergone a more modern change. You don’t necessarily need a designated room for a library anymore and can incorporate it wherever you have a cozy nook. From a sunny kitchen window seat to a home office/library combo to a relaxing corner, you can build a home office just about anywhere. Here are ten tips when building one of your own.
1. Choose Your Spot
While a room with doors is ideal, it’s not necessary. You’ll want to pick a spot in your home that’s not loud or heavily trafficked. One with lots of natural light or at least the capability of being well lit. It can be anywhere in your home, from the bedroom to the office to the dining room and anywhere in between!
2. Storing Your Books
This will depend on how many books you have and if you plan on putting them all in your library. Make sure the spot you’ve chosen has the space for them all. If you have a large collection, floor-to-ceiling book shelves will be your best option. Maybe even built-ins if you have the budget. For smaller collections you can use a freestanding bookcase or even modern, floating shelves. Whichever you go with, make sure that you properly secure your shelves to the walls.
3. Support Your Floors
Any book lover knows that books can get heavy. The book you took on vacation nearly put your suitcase over the weight limit. The same thinking goes for the floors of your new library. Make sure they can fully support the weight of bookshelves and their load. You wouldn’t want the floor to sag or give way. Consult with a general contractor for help.
4. Set the Mood
Each reader is different, and each likes a certain ambiance during reading time. How do you want to feel in your library? And pick a suitable color to create that environment. If you like the enveloping, rich feeling of old-time libraries, deep reds or luxurious browns may be your style. Or maybe you like bright and cheery genres and want your library to be airy and relaxing in a light blue, hint of yellow or off-white? Creating the space of your dreams starts with the colors.
5. A Place to Sit and Read
After you’ve chosen the color, assess your space. You don’t read standing up, so decide what kind of seating you’d like and for how many. Chairs? Tables? Sofas? Make sure they all fit in comfortably with room for lights—either overhead or floor and table lamps. If you feel tight on space, a window seat with storage for books is a two-in-one!
6. Go Up
If you are lacking space and wondering just how to fit all of your books in one spot, utilize the height of your room. Go with floor-to-ceiling shelving and get inventive where to put your books. Like under a window seat or a table with storage shelves. One creative space that looks absolutely stunning is building shelves above the doorway. Just don’t forget a classic library ladder so you can reach those top shelves.
7. Get the Right Shelves
You won’t want your bookshelves to sag, so make sure you buy the proper ones when building a home library. A 36” long shelf should be at least 1” thick. Go thicker if it’s longer. A good idea is to get adjustable shelves, too, so you can accommodate short paperbacks and tall coffee table books alike without wasting space. Better, custom made bookcases will provide greater support and last longer than cheaper made retail bookcases.
8. Maximize Shelf Space
Stacking books two deep is a great way to save space, but it comes with a problem: you can’t read the titles of the deeper books. There’s a DIY fix for that! Collect the empty boxes from you wax paper, plastic wrap or tinfoil rolls and, keep the roll inside for support, and wrap them in acid-free paper. Then place them in your bookshelves (cutting them to fit if needed) and stack that second row on top!
9. How to Clean Your Books
When you have a large collection, or small, sometimes you get pests trying to make a feast of your literary treasures. At the very least, they attract a lot of dust. Regularly cleaning them will keep pests out and keep you from sneezing while you read. Remove books before cleaning a shelf with a soft cloth and some polish. As you place them back vertically with their spines facing outward for support, wipe them down with a clean microfiber cloth or vacuum them.
10. Organize Your Library
There’s no right way to organize your books. And you can reorganize them as many times as you want. Play with it until you find a system that works for you. Forget the Dewey Decimal system and arrange them by genre, alphabetically or even color! You can place your stack of “to-read” or your favorites at eye level for easy access and your kids’ books lower where they can reach them. We do recommend separating paperbacks from hardcovers and not piling books on top of vertically stacked ones, but other than that, do whatever works for you!