Creating A Chic, Cosy Home Library-Best Colors, Lighting and Furniture

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Every year in the middle of summer, I think,

“Oh, I’ve never done a home library post.”

 

But, a post about a cozy library doesn’t feel right when it’s 90 degrees outside. But here we are, February 1st- smack dab in the middle of winter and what better time?

Laurel?

Yes…

Didn’t you forget that you recently did a library post?

Thanks but no, I didn’t forget. It was actually a dining room post and many of them included a library. But gosh, thanks for being so astute! I’m impressed.

And, over three years ago, I did a post that features a lot of bookcase styling and yes, there are many cool libraries on there. And then of course, there are libraries scattered throughout the blog.

One great source is also this post about north facing rooms, because libraries are usually dark. Or at least, it’s a great place to use a deep, rich color.

 

Today, is about creating a chic library in your home.

 

But…

The classic library where one actually goes to read a BOOK in one’s home has become almost obsolete.

After all, who needs a separate room for reading when all we have to do is throw our book in our pocket-book and off we go to the park.

I’ve never lived in a home that had a home library.

However, from a very young age, in Evansville, IN, I have the fondest memories of going to the Willard Libary, built in 1878.

My Mommy used to take me to this grand ol’ Gothic Revival library when I was a wee thing. And she looks pretty darned good. I see that they’re taking very good care of her.

 

photo: Graham Haber

And here is the amazing Morgan Library in New York City. I had a professor in design school who took us there to do free-hand drawing one day.

Photo: Jason Bell for British Vogue represented by SoHo Management

Claire Foy portraying a young queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown” posing in a proper English Library.


Dans La Bibliotheque by Auguste Toulmouche

 that dress!

 

I don’t know exactly how the modern home library came to being, but I imagine that it all began as a more genteel version of the latter-day term, “man cave.” ;]

 

But, like the dining room AND living room, the home library seems to be going by the wayside.

 

It is true, that many of us are living in one room. I’m not judging you if you do. (much) haha; just an observation.

And we’ve been through this before, but I love rooms. I really like the idea of lots and lots of little rooms. Even the other day, we were talking about a kitchen with multi rooms. I love that!

Let’s start a trend, okay? More rooms and smaller homes. We don’t have to go micro house, but I’ve always felt that the perfect family-size home was 2,500-3,500 sq feet. Sure, a little bigger a little smaller.

And it’s true that many of us, myself included need to put our books in other rooms.

 

Like the aforementioned dining room.

 

photo: Draper James

Oh William McLure! One of the brightest, most talented (and he’s pretty damned cute too) young designers out there. This is man who even if you hate yellow will make you decide that you MUST have a yellow room! That’s how good he is. But I adore this dining room created for the Southern Style Now Showhouse sponsored by Traditional Home.

 

You want your supper? Well, first you’ll have to read all of these books! ;]

And yes… I know you want to know. I couldn’t find the gorgeous red lamps, but I did find the chandelier.

 

It’s the John Rosselli Natalya Small Chandelier for Visual Comfort and sold at Circa Lighting.

Just so you know. This beauty is 35″ in diameter— so not that small!

 

Then there’s the hall home library.

 

Fearins & Welch

 

Some have a home library in the  bedroom

 

source unknown

 

The coffee table home library.

(and yes, we’ve been through this before too. lol)

 

Another beauty by William McLure.

 

Then of course, there’s the John home library.

 

yes, yes… I know…

 

And sometimes the home library is everywhere you look!

 

I was a little surprised to see this is the library of interior design legend, Juan Montoya! That dude sure does love to read! BTW, I saw him last week at the New York Winter Antiques Show and he was looking quite dapper.

 

Many of our home libraries also double as a home office.

 

via Structures Blog. Architecture –  Darryl Cobb – Interior design – Deborah Way

In fact, that’s probably more the rule than the exception.

I love this library/home office with the built-ins with glass doors and Cremone Bolts.

 

And do you want great lighting for your home library?

 

One King’s Lane is carrying a wonderful assortment of furnishings for libraries.

 

All of the above lights are from Visual Comfort/Circa Lighting

 

 

Many home libraries are part of the living room.

 

Linda Holt via her instagram

 

The truth of the matter is that most of us don’t have all that many books any longer.

Above is the gorgeously staged bookcase of my friend interior designer and fabulous photographer, Linda Holt. She’s getting her home ready for sale and I must say that I think this bookcase is absolutely perfect. It doesn’t look sterile, like nobody lives there, but it’s visually appealing and pretty.

Homes To Love

Please yes? Can I have this? I don’t need the ladder. I’ll hire someone if I need something up there.

 

Carolina Irving

French Boho chic. This is a room in three sections. The third one (behind the camera) is just like the dining room beyond. These rooms are difficult to photograph because it looks cluttered, yes, but I’m sure that in person, it’s divinely charming.

 

I love the little bar area she created here.

 

How about these chic antique French Bronze sconces

 

But still, many manage to create beautiful home libraries where the primary function appears to be reading and relaxing.

 

Victoria Hagan’s formal mahogany library with her always stunning style, that I’ve admired for the last 30 years!

 

Vintage leather chairs are so classic in a library

 

Another Victoria Hagan timeless masterpiece.

 

photo: Pieter Estersohn

A traditional library by Richard Keith Langham.

This one looks ripe for a poker game? Okay then. Fine. A bridge game. :]

 

A rich emerald-green in this stylish French library. (if you know the original source, please let me know)

The color looks a lot like Laurel Home Essential Paint Collection color

 

I could see this chic French sofa sitting on the other wall.

(I don’t know this company so can’t vouch for the company, but it looks great!)

 


Above and below interior design by Miles Redd. Above for his mom.

And here for architect Gil Schafer, a favorite of mine.

This is from his home in Millbrook, NY that was sold a couple of years ago.

I bet it went faster than you can say MLS.

 

Bunny Williams traditional and stylish library.

 


Always love a tufted classic chesterfield sofa. I think this would look wonderful in Bunny’s library.

 

One of my favorite library colors is Bunny’s favorite and another

Laurel Home Paint Color, Cleveland Green

Do you have a separate library? If so, do you use it strictly for reading books. If you do, I love that because it’s so old-fashioned and that’s a good thing!

xo,

 

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5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Martin Joy - April 21, 2017 - 6:47 AM

    Wow. One word for this Amazing!..The designs are so awesome for a library. I am a book worm. throughout the year I read many books. I was thinking of making the library.

    I loved john home library:). I wanna try this home.ReplyCancel

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker - March 4, 2017 - 8:40 AM

    I live in a 2500 square foot house, and we have a home library. It’s been called the library since we moved in, but just last year I finished getting (matching) bookcases for the second side.

    I bought from Parkerhouse (to the trade; my mom was closing down her business at the end of the year and we ordered the second side of the room before she retired).They have a lot of choices to make a customizable library; you pick and choose the pieces you need. A few places sell them online to the public, but then they choose which pieces you get in the design. Here are their library walls: http://www.parker-house.com/products/?method=&filter_Collection=&filter_Category=&filter_Sub-Category=Library+Wall&search=

    I have the Corsica ones with a desk option at one end (so two desks) so that we could include two computers in the library for our children for the school they do online. I basically have 4 arches across each wall. We do have a couple of chairs in the room, but no table; we tried that option before, but the room is too narrow. It’s really too narrow even for a dining room (with a table and chairs, you have to have everyone get up from the table and push in all the chairs to get up) but it is perfect for a library.

    I have a library Pinterest board; I love libraries. I loved seeing many new ones on this post that I haven’t seen before.

    My own library is in a fairly dark room; it’s west-facing, but the way the houses are built here it is shaded by the wall dividing the houses (plus it has narrow windows that unfortunately don’t open!). Because of that, I have struggled to photograph it to put on my blog, but hopefully, I will get it up sometime this year!

    One thing I love seeing is the busts that are atop library shelves. You shared a photo of these too. We have a couple of busts, but I’ve never found any that are quite like the ones I want (like you have in the one above). At some point, I would love to find some busts to add to the tops of the shelves.

    I like the idea someone mentioned in the comments about taking the books outside to shake them off. That is an excellent idea.

    Our library is not the only place we have bookshelves filled with books; we have 6 other filled bookcases in the house in different rooms (including 2 in the living room). There is a lot of reading happening at our house!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 5, 2017 - 12:31 AM

      Hi Brandy,

      That sounds very cool! I will have to look into Parkerhouse.ReplyCancel

  • Elle - February 12, 2017 - 1:31 PM

    http://www.JuniperBooks.com

    You probably know about them, but I didn’t. Such beautiful editions of classic books!

    Plus elegantly covered “fake” books by the foot for people who want to look well-read but would never turn a page.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 12, 2017 - 4:13 PM

      Hi Elle,

      I do not know that specific company. But it’s a great idea for those with very deep pockets who are looking for the image.

      OMG! The one that’s a mural is nuts! I would have to glue the books to the shelves. haha!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn - February 5, 2017 - 4:49 AM

    Hi Laurel – perfectly timed post as ever. I’m in the process of trying to reclaim my office (it had become a dumping ground for kids bikes etc!) and I was trying to cram a sofa bed in there as well but this post has made me realise I’d much rather have some pretty seating and somewhere for all my books (not just a few tipped on their side) so now it’s going to be a library office. Complete with library coffee table as well. For the amount of times we have guests it makes much more sense to just give up our bedroom for them then and make this space work for me everyday. I’m so excited to have a beautiful place to work. However the awkward Georgian architecture is driving me mad, as usual, so I can’t even figure out where to put the desk at the moment – I’ve got a debate on Houzz going if you or any of your followers want to cast a vote…https://www.houzz.co.uk/discussions/4413127
    (you can just delete that last bit if not!), KathrynReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 5, 2017 - 10:33 AM

      Hi Kathryn! I didn’t realize that it was my lovely English lass that we all hate because of your 10 fireplaces! lol (not to mention fab architecture.) I wouldn’t normally comment, but couldn’t look past that niche! It’s bugging the crap out of me as it looks like it’s trying to gobble up the fireplace mantel. grrrr…

      But so glad that you’re going to reclaim the space, although the little bikes do look very cute! But, they will soon turn into BIG BIKES and that’s no good.ReplyCancel

      • Kathryn - February 6, 2017 - 3:49 AM

        Ha! Me too! Plus good point about the bikes getting bigger. Yes, all four fireplaces on this side of the house have the mantle cutting into the cupboard (why, why, why would you design anything like that?) Do you think the niche could look nice filled with books (and or books with ornaments) or should I source an antique door and paint it the same as the walls to lose that cupboard and content myself with one of your lovely coffee table libraries or, option B, put the desk in front of the window and use the space in the corner for a proper library wall…ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - February 6, 2017 - 1:08 PM

          Hi Kathryn,

          I would cover up the niche, if possible. Or at least fill in at least 6 inches (12 cm or so) with drywall. Something.ReplyCancel

  • Nilene Thompson Finn - February 3, 2017 - 5:22 PM

    Wonderful post Laurel and timely! I am in the midst of a full house remodel and after tearing down two walls to create my big open concept living space, the original living room is becoming a library complete with rolling ladder! I chose BM Cotton Balls for the walls, ceiling and trim (thanks to your amazing book) and we are currently deciding whether or not to paint the back of the bookcases a contrasting color. What fun! I am a semi-retired Kitchen and Bath designer, so doing my “downsized” dream Home is a joy and labor of love. Cheers!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 4, 2017 - 8:52 PM

      Hi Nilene,

      Sorry it too me so long to answer and publish your comment. I’m in heavy blog-mode today.

      Your home sounds gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Jill - February 3, 2017 - 12:56 PM

    Do you know the green paint color Miles Redd used in the room he did for his Mom?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 3, 2017 - 4:13 PM

      Hi Jill,

      I don’t know for sure, but someone else asked, if you look a few comments above. (right now, I can only see other posts, not my own). There are two links to green paint colors and one or two with Miles.

      I do know that he has used Benjamin Moore Amazon Green and that room looks a lot like that. Please know that colors can vary considerably in person from what you are seeing on your computer screen.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - February 3, 2017 - 5:38 AM

    I can’t imagine having a home without books. It would feel like there’s something missing …. kind of sterile ….. Although I do take the point about books gathering dust. But then, dusting’s also a great opportunity to be reminded of old friends on the shelves. And an even better way to get sidetracked!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 3, 2017 - 4:02 PM

      Hi Catherine,

      This is why it’s good to hire out the cleaning I guess, unless the help is also reading the books! hahaReplyCancel

  • J - February 2, 2017 - 11:06 PM

    Anyone know the green paint color in the room Miles Redd did for his mother?ReplyCancel

  • connie - February 2, 2017 - 10:05 PM

    I saw William McLure’s post on the red lamps. They were a thrift store find that he painted red. He has a photo of the original on his blog or instagram..can’t remember which. I would not have seen the potential of them! By the way, thanks for introducing him to me and thanks for an outstanding blog. Love it. I have a question about the Miles Redd photo. How do they plug in the lamps on the table? I see no cords. Were they put there just for the photo?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 10:29 PM

      Hi Connie,

      Thanks so much for all of that info! There have been a lot of questions about the lamps and a few people have weighed in. Apparently in Miles’ case, he slipped the wires through the leaves and in William’s case he drilled a hole in the table.

      Then of course, there needs to be a floor outlet.

      Since Will’s room is for a showhouse, I imagine he had a cheap plywood table underneath the floor-length table cloth.

      I am working on another idea, however.

      And I adore the red lamps. I’ve painted many a light fixture. Usually it’s to make it a more believable antique look. I’ve gotten great results with stuff like rub ‘n buff. But actually, I did paint a Pottery Barn Chandelier ages ago and loved how it turned out. The original was flat black, but didn’t look like that in the catalog.

      It’s here in one of my first blog posts!

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/2012/04/10/no-weeping-going-on-here-chartreuse-decor/

      really old pic, doesn’t do it justice. There were multiple, subtly different shades of green and a little gold mixed in, in some places. Really pretty. I left it behind when we sold the house.ReplyCancel

  • Luiza - February 2, 2017 - 7:42 PM

    Thank you for showing so many bookcase pictures that are actually for holding books, not artful displays of objects with a few books up and a few sideways. As a book lover, I think a bookcase filled with jumbled (not color coded!) books has a beauty of its own, but I’m definitely in minority given the spread of pictures that use books as decorative elements.

    I should mention though that books gather a lot of dust and open bookcases in the bedroom may not be the best placement for them, if there is a choice. (I’ll pretend that bathroom picture was never posted… ;)). My grandmother used to actually take all the books from the bookcases and shake them outside once a year. That was quite a job, and generated a tremendous amount of dust. I have more modern inclinations (read “lazy”) and keep them in the living room and just dust on top and in front.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 8:02 PM

      Hi Luiza,

      Years ago, I cleaned out my boys’ bookcase in their room. I had a cleaning lady, but obviously, she didn’t go anywhere near the two cases. I was pretty horrified by what came out of there. Fortunately, it didn’t kill them!

      I have two bookcases in my bedroom with glass doors. They’re pretty and really do make a big difference in terms of the dust.ReplyCancel

  • Katy - February 2, 2017 - 5:02 PM

    Oh YES… I am renovating a strange mansion (bad layout), and there’s a giant open room that I am turning into a library, because really – how many “great rooms with TVs” do people need?? I am closing up the walls, putting in french doors, my daughter wants a rolling ladder like Belle’s library in Beauty and the Beast 😛 and I ADORE that “french green library” picture you posted, I found that one too and couldn’t find the source either. I hate Tumblr for that reason.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 6:11 PM

      Hi Katy,

      That sounds fabulous! Ugh, yes tumblr, but they can put the source, they just usually don’t. Same with pinterest. If even half would do it, it would help a lot! But it’s more like 10% credit to the *original* source. Or, that’s how it seems.ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia Lambert - February 2, 2017 - 3:30 PM

    Dear Laurel, what a great post. I’m happy to fill you in about the lamps in the center of the table with books around them. He “cheated” and cut a hole in the center of the table and the tablecloth (gasp) for the cords and they plug into an outlet in the floor. Voilà – no cords to get in the way or trip over. Looks great, if one has the courage to destroy tables and linens in the process. Not sure if I could do it, but it certainly works well. My choice would be overhead lighting, but to each his own. I think a lot of us still own many books, and book sales are still strong, so libraries will be with us for a while longer, thank goodness. No room so cozy as a library.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 4:32 PM

      Hi Cynthia,

      I thought about that possibility too. It would have to be a cheap table, I would think. Have to say though, that I do love the combo of the red lamps with the brass chandelier.

      Thanks so much as always Cynthia. You always have such terrific comments!

      ReplyCancel

  • Eleanor Clark - February 2, 2017 - 3:29 PM

    So, as I previously commented on your dining room post, I turned my sunroom into a dining area. This left the dinette area of the kitchen kind of blank…so now I am turning the dinette into a small living room area with our tv armoire, our petite couch, and an armchair. Everyone hangs out in there every time we have people over, anyway. I am turning the actual living room into a library/office with a writing desk, piano, and a comfy chair..and what makes it even better is that it has a fireplace! I would love to have a 2500-3500 square foot house but at barely 2000, I am slowly finding ways to make my dining room/library dreams come true. Lots of trial and error though…wish me luck, I need to find a few bodybuilders to move my insanely huge/heavy/tall armoire to the dinette.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 4:24 PM

      Hi Eleanor,

      The largest home I’ve ever lived in was 2,000 sq. plus the basement which added another 700. The basement saved our lives because of the rock bands. lol

      I definitely prefer smaller to larger. But I have seen some large homes that are cozy. It’s just not as common.ReplyCancel

  • Rosemary - February 2, 2017 - 1:05 PM

    I have always wondered how there can be lamps on a table like those in the Wm Mclure and Miles Redd photos. Where do they plug in? Are the cords dangling off a side of the table that is not visible in the photo? If yes, that seems dangerous and not too great for sitting at the table without being careful not to disturb a cord (and knock over a lamp). The cords could be hidden by books, etc. that are on the table but they still have to reach an outlet. Where or where would the outlet be???ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 2:21 PM

      Hi Rosemary,

      Libby, way below had the same question and I’m working on it! Great point!ReplyCancel

      • nancy keyes - February 2, 2017 - 2:58 PM

        I thought I remembered reading this on Miles Redd’s gorgeous room: The lamp cords were snaked between the table leaves and under the rug. So smart! …ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 2, 2017 - 12:07 PM

    I dream of having a two-story library, complete with all the beautiful solid wood shelves, trim and mouldings. And of course a ladder! A desk for doing research, and a comfy, leather recliner to lounge in while I’m taken away to other worlds! I’d have books stands for a Bible, World Atlas, and Dictionary. Floor to ceiling windows, add a transom window over the door, oh, and drawers at the bottom of the shelves for magazines, paperbacks, journals, etc..The wallspace would have paintings of faraway places and favorite close by places. Super traditional and a wonderful cozy place to go when I need to relax and get away without leaving home:)!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 2:20 PM

      Hi Kim,

      Sounds pretty amazing to me! I too, love huge, huge windows and high, high ceilings. ReplyCancel

  • Erin Myers - February 2, 2017 - 11:39 AM

    Love this post and your examples. I am always in favor of creating a cozy reading nook, if not a room dedicated. Just finished a project for client who had a soul-less home office with a desk stuck in the middle, but wanted a place she could retreat and relax with laptop or book. Apparently, she, hubby and kids all fight over the space. And we did it on total budget. https://www.houzz.com/photos/84144695/Idewild-dc-metroReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 2:18 PM

      Hi Erin,

      Oh wow! What a huge improvement to the room and far better functionality. Great art wall too!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Lopez - February 2, 2017 - 11:18 AM

    Great and inspiring post. Now to find a nook for my new corner ‘library’!

    Was wondering if you knew from which publication the Claire Foy photo originated?

    I was also wondering if you could lend your experienced eye to the topic of dining room tables with banquettes? I have a too small living dining room that I thought I could add one to.

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 2:16 PM

      Hi Susan,

      Oops! I didn’t put that in there. I just added the link. Thanks so much! ReplyCancel

  • nancy keyes - February 2, 2017 - 10:56 AM

    I LOVE LOVE this post! And I love libraries! Ours in Atlanta was painted tobacco with a khaki ceiling. Dark and cozy. I have some of these photos pinned on Pinterest. Miles Redd’s, Bunny’s, and Carolina Irving’s are longtime favorites!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 2:07 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      Thanks so much! I think you did send me a photo of your old library and of course, it was gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Elle - February 2, 2017 - 10:29 AM

    GREAT POST! Books are one reason we’ve been house-hunting for years. Even though we fit (sort of) into our small apt (<800 SF), much bigger apartments and even houses rarely have the long walls we need to hold our books. My husband has a scholarly library — which sounds better than saying he is a book-hoarder, as many professors are. Half of his books are in his campus office, but he still too many at home; I only need about 110 feet of shelves for my own books.

    Most smaller houses have so many doors and windows that we'd be trying to fit little bookcases on every free wall in just about every room, and I don't think that does justice to the books or the rooms. It's best to have a few long, tall load-bearing walls to hold a ton (literally) of books. City row-house apts work well, since there are usually only windows at the front and back, and fewer doors.

    But, as Cicero said, "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything." Finding a place with both must-haves that we can afford, in a Boston neighborhood we like, has been impossible.

    My dream is a library-dining room. We've currently got a library-living-dining-office room (my "office" is a marble bistro table and a basket). I'd love to keep books piled elegantly around a big table, where they'd invite browsing. (I do not need a taxidermied turtle, however.)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 2:06 PM

      Hi Elle,

      Thanks so much! Good luck with your home search!ReplyCancel

  • Susie - February 2, 2017 - 10:09 AM

    You can’t have a library without books….see article in latest Vanity Fair magazine about Heywood Hill bookshop in London. They will help you create your own personal library of books!! My favorite book? “Wind in the Willows”ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 2:05 PM

      Hi Susie,

      I agree, although some have tried. I’ll need to check out that article. Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • Darla Grossman - February 2, 2017 - 7:37 AM

    Willard Library is still just as fabulous as you rememberReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 2:04 PM

      Hi Darla,

      Thanks for letting me know! My mom and I went for a visit in 1988 just before I got married and the same librarian from 1960 was still there! My mom recognized her.ReplyCancel

  • Amy, Home Glow Design - February 2, 2017 - 6:48 AM

    When we moved into our 18th c. House, I knew we had to have a library. I’m a huge bibliophile, and I dreamt of having a library ladder too! We converted a narrow double parlor into a library/music room (I’m a musician, and it also serves as my practice space). It was a challenge, but we even got a ladder in there — one of those antique folding leather ones — that I found at a consignment store! Painted the whole room F&B’s Stiffkey Blue. We’re in that room all the time. Love it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 2:03 PM

      Hi Amy,

      That sounds absolutely glorious! Stiffkey Blue is another great one!

      My sons are musicians. The older one went to New England Conservatory. Just ripped a little tendon in left hand pinkie trying to open up one bottle of beer with another. :/

      No, thank God, he’s not a classical pianist. He does jazz and rock, gives lessons, accompanies a special needs dance class. Instruments are trombone, piano and drums. Poor guy is pretty upset with himself. But, it could be a lot worse. He had surgery yesterday to repair the tendon.

      ReplyCancel

      • Amy, Home Glow Design - February 3, 2017 - 6:59 AM

        Oh no!!! That’s awful. I’m a classical singer. Ripped tendons, no worries. Bronchitis, kiss of death. NEC is such a great place. Always wanted to do jazz, but my grad school (Manhattan) didn’t focus on it. I’ll be soloing with the Boston Cecilia in April if you happen to be in town. 🙂 Hope your son heals quickly! Physical therapy!!ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - February 3, 2017 - 4:09 PM

          Hi Amy,

          Oh you went to Manhattan School of Music? My son did pre-college there for 3 years. He got in as an under-grad, but no scholarship $. We loved NEC! And one of the best parts is that they encourage their students to explore other areas besides their major which is unusual.

          Yeah… I’m a dancer who sang well enough to be in the chorus of musicals (back in my youth) and get that about the bronchitus. I had years of voice lessons, but limited talent. lol

          I would love to hear your recital. I bet that you have a magnificent voice! ReplyCancel

  • Betty - February 2, 2017 - 5:05 AM

    My dream would be a wall of books that I would need a ladder to reach the top shelves. Chicago when I was a kid had the most fabulous library, it was a treat to go there and looking through the card catalogs – like the scene with Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. It had a huge staircase, tons of tables for reading and it was quiet not like libraries of today, noise, people eating and uncontrolled chaos. Anyway, I would love a home library with a brass lamp and dark green velvet wing backed chair tucked in a corner with a big ottoman for my size 10 feet and a throw to have on my lap for those chilly winter evenings. Ahhhh I hear real books are making a comeback, we can only hope. A beautiful post that brought up lots of memories. Thank youReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 1:57 PM

      Hi Betty,

      It seems that there’s a lot of going back to the way it was– not completely, but certainly much of the way we lived 20,30,40, years ago and beyond, was very nice.ReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - February 2, 2017 - 3:39 AM

    Hello Laurel, I have bookshelves in every room of my apartment, and am in desperate need of more, although I have pretty much exhausted the possibilities of where they can go. My guest room is completely lined in shelves, with a twin bed added. When I have guests I clear off half a shelf for use as a bedside table.

    I am glad to see that very few of the libraries you illustrate show pictures covering bookshelves, my most hated trend in decorating. Shelves up to the ceiling look good, but it is really hard to scan titles above eye height, and ladders are dangerous, especially when carrying stacks of books. (Also, in Taiwan, there are earthquakes to consider–you don’t want heavy books toppling on your head.

    One important tip (no pun intended) with free-standing bookshelves is to make sure that they are anchored to the wall, otherwise a clutching toddler (or even adult) could pull the whole thing over.

    One special design problem I have is that the damp air here sinks, making the bottom shelves unusable for books. The relatively open shelves at the bottom give the whole case an unbalanced, top-heavy look, even when i use them to display heavy items like rocks.
    –JimReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 1:54 PM

      Hi Jim,

      Sounds very cool. Do you have air-conditioning to deal with the humidity problem or is that not an option? If so, maybe a dehumidier?

      Funny about the art covering the books. Yeah. I do remember looking at some, but they didn’t make the cut for some reason.

      I’m not a huge fan of the look either. My take is, are there books behind the art, because if so, how weird and if not, why not just put the painting somewhere else? I do like small pieces of art on the shelves and I have also see it work where a small piece was hung to the stile (vertical partition between sections if anyone doesn’t know that term).ReplyCancel

      • Parnassus - February 2, 2017 - 2:41 PM

        Hi again, I do have dehumidifiers in the smaller rooms, but even then I avoid areas near the floor. Electricity is quite expensive here, so a/c or dehumidification for the large living room/dining room area would be impractical. Older books with more natural materials are at greater risk. A few nicer books that are starting to fox I am planning to rescue by taking them back to Cleveland. –JimReplyCancel

  • Mary Elizabeth - February 2, 2017 - 12:45 AM

    Laurel, I’ve been reading your blog for over 2 years. Love your advice (and sense of humor)! The timing of this post, and the last one on dining rooms has been uncanny!
    We are about 2/3 done with a complete rehab of a 6K home (built in 1965 by a doctor with 8 kids).
    Initially, we switched the smaller (12 x 15) formal dining room with the 20 x 20 formal living room. (Made the smaller room a den.) This seemed to be a good option.
    (Den furniture is new, dining room furniture is a work in progress & living room furniture is just hold over til the remodel is done.)
    BUT, due to window & door locations, etc., the seating arrangement in the 12 x 24 library was just NOT working.
    And then, your blog post came! Voila!
    We switched the dining room furniture to the library!
    Our current dining table is 45″ x 9′, but it gives us a great sense of the space. The plan is for a custom made 45″ x 16′ table (12′ + (4) 12″ leaves).
    And it still leaves plenty of room for the dining chairs & antique library ladder. The room has built-in floor to ceiling shelving with lower storage (11 1/2′ ceiling)!
    Now I have to decide the wall color!
    (The original “formal” living room, is now a less formal, but much more cohesive sitting room!)
    I owe it all to you! Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 1:49 PM

      Was also just thinking that if the table has D ends, it would definitely be easier to accommodate maybe up to 22 as you can sit someone in the rounded corners at the ends of the table.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 1:47 PM

      Thank you so much Mary Elizabeth! It was very late last night or rather early this morning and sometimes I read comments without answering at first to give the illusion that I go to bed at a normal time. lol

      But what I did, was go back and reread the post because I am not always aware that I am funny. But then horror upon horror, I found about half a dozen GLARING TYPOS. I mean, the kind that sounded like I surely must be drunk or deranged or something. Well, it can’t possibly be #1, because I rarely drink, #2 is a possibility. I’m hoping that it’s #3 which was I was just plumb wore out– not in a bad way, but only proofed for spelling errors, not for content or syntax.

      Anywho, they’re fixed now.

      12 x 24 is an awesome size for a dining room to accommodate a crowd. Wow! The room sounds stunning! With a table that size, you should be able to easily get 18 and maybe squeeze in a couple extra, if necessary. Well done! So glad whatever I said lol, helped!ReplyCancel

  • marsha - February 2, 2017 - 12:39 AM

    hi laurel, another great post, as always! years ago, I turned my formal dining room into a dining room/ library. frankly, if I bought a home today, I would exclude a formal dining space.

    totally agree with you comments about william mcclure; regarding those red lamps, I recall reading in his blog (or someplace) that he made those himself. (seems he found some vintage brass lamps in a thrift store, painted them, added the bases and swanky expensive shades.)

    cheers!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 1:36 PM

      Hi Marsha,

      Thanks for the info on William McLure’s red lamps. I should’ve realized. How clever!ReplyCancel

  • Ann - February 2, 2017 - 12:05 AM

    Hi Laurel. I love your blog, style, and sence of humor. I especially loved this post and all of the responses. Growing up, the public library was a place of wonder and safety. As an adult, I still find wonder and comfort in the presence of books–lots and lots of books. In our last remodel my husband was happy with his big screen tv at one end of our redidulously narrow family room. At the other end, I carved out a library. It is separated from the rest of the room by a compact sofa with chaise lounge and a long dresser that fit perfectly behind it. For my “library” I had a chair and matching ottoman from the 30s or 40s recovered in sage green velvet which I placed in one corner by the window. Built in shelves wrap the back wall and around to the space under the stairs. Those shelves follow the slant of the stairs and are perfect for a collection of children’s books. One of my daughters, a librarian, had fun unpacking and organizing my books Two birthing stools hold more books and a child sized Windsor chair usually holds another stack as the little ones like to sit on the floor by the shelves. Oh, and there are three bookcases in the office and two in the livingroom, and um book filled baskets and stacks, well, everywhere. I also do a lot of reading on my ereader. Thanks again Laurel for another beautiful post.ReplyCancel

  • Libby - February 1, 2017 - 11:37 PM

    Oh wow, Laurel! I want a dining room library and a living room library after reading this! One must be a mahogany or other gorgeous wood jobbie. Interesting to learn that bolt fastening has a name. Based on previous posts those wood libraries are not in style and probably painted now but they were/are wonderful.

    Ok, I didn’t mention this when I saw the Miles Redd dining room/library a while back. What is the deal with that dining room and the McClure library with the table lamps on tables that are in the middle of the room? Many feet from wall outlets. Both rooms have floor outlets? Or hiding a cord under a rug and then up and across a table. That still wouldn’t be very stable. Yes, we don’t see cords for staging reasons. Ok I’m a partypooper but that staging is jarring….in any case, you highlighted gorgeous floor lamps and sconces. Those plus a pendant or chandelier would be beautiful.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 2, 2017 - 1:33 PM

      Hi Libby,

      No, not a party pooper at all. I’m working on it. :]ReplyCancel

  • Katie Storo - February 1, 2017 - 11:06 PM

    This past summer my husband fulfilled one of many dreams and we turned our unused dining room into a library. We hired a cabinet maker to make the bookshelves and a designer to help decide the paint color (our house is a 1920’s Colonial Revival with Gumwood molding, but we knew we couldn’t afford Gumwood bookshelves). It’s by far my favorite room in the house. We’re still working on furnishing it….baby steps. ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 1, 2017 - 11:19 PM

      Hi Katie,

      That sounds terrific! And good you got help with the paint colors!

      ReplyCancel

  • Barbara Droney - February 1, 2017 - 10:26 PM

    A library ladder and a transom window. The definition of having it all.ReplyCancel

  • bfish - February 1, 2017 - 10:16 PM

    This topic is near and dear to me. I have bookcases in many rooms, and both my entry hall and living room have a library vibe. We put two glass-doored bookcases on one wall of the dining room — all it would take to completely “library” it would be to remove leaf from round table, put a nice reading lamp on there and add some books to the top of the server — could be a good project for 2017! The examples you used are beautiful! Thank you for your always-excellent content —ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 1, 2017 - 10:38 PM

      Hi Brenda,

      That sounds cool! I love rooms that can function in different ways when necessary. ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - February 1, 2017 - 10:08 PM

    what a heartwarming post, Laurel!!

    when i was a kid every room in our house was a library)) there were books everywhere. most fondly though, i remember the tiny room of my parents-nothing fit there but their bed, and a little side table. but behind that bed there was a wall sized niche, full of books. that was heaven
    (i think my Grandma made a deal with somebody important in the building since that room was carved in a former elevator space, LOL)
    since then i like for books to be everywhere, i find them incredibly calming. i (almost) never read books on the screen, i’m a) a luddite, to some degree b) my eyes hurt c) i love books as they are, pages, smell, all that jazz

    we do have a more designated room for the books though. first thing first when we got our first place in US we hired a cabinetmaker to make custom shelving for us
    so it integrates most of the books, documents, albums, TV, CD’s etc. It’s a two part thing-one smaller part goes on one wall and is TV-dedicated, but has some books too
    the larger part for another wall is for books and albums

    so when we were house hunting i went everywhere with a measuring tape, to make sure my precious shelves fit))
    (which was mighty stupid of me-they do fit in the end, but the ceilings are lower..and I never thought of the height aspect)
    still we moved them with us, and i must say they’re bursting in seams.
    cause i can’t help myself and buy new books. that was such a pain to unpack..
    and kinda harder to style lol
    the new house is smaller so i still have books everywhere, but other rooms don’t have this stamp of a “library” on them.

    i do like homes to have if not separate rooms then at least very defined areas..so that was my criteria when looking for a place-the layout. i like when you can concentrate on something without being on somebody else’s head

    interestingly, while i love to have “the library”, i prefer reading in bed

    so my dream library would be probably a bedroom one. maybe because of these childhood memories-the tiny bedroom, the mysterious island.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 1, 2017 - 10:36 PM

      Thanks so much for your sweet, heart-felt note Jenny! BTW, I was a Luddite too… for quite a while.

      And then I realized that I needed to learn more because I was falling behind in numerous ways.ReplyCancel

  • Leigh - February 1, 2017 - 9:58 PM

    I’m a librarian, so a separate home library was always my dream 🙂

    My husband and I bought a 1928 American foursquare farm house last summer. There were plenty of reasons we fell in love with it (actual separate rooms, original heart pine floors, original interior french doors, all orignal glass door knobs, 5 acres) but a library/office sealed the deal for me.

    It’s a huge work in process, but thank goodness for your blog. Your rolodex and paint palette are on my birthday wishlist!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 1, 2017 - 10:31 PM

      Hi Leigh,

      That sounds fabulous! I adore four-squares too. So glad the posts are helpful!

      ReplyCancel

  • Sandy Sheldon - February 1, 2017 - 9:50 PM

    Ok, first of all I must say I’ve been loving your blog for months now. And this post, outstanding because I love books! I’m just beginning a whole Colonial home transformation over on my own blog and you just stopped me in my tracks. I love the black leather French sofa you just showcased. So much in fact, I want it, got to have it – just redesigned my whole library in my mind to accommodate that sofa. You bring a little spot of blog sunshine into my days each time I find your post in my email. THANKS!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 1, 2017 - 10:27 PM

      Hi Sandy,

      Thanks for sending the sunshine right back! It is greatly appreciated! Can’t wait for spring!ReplyCancel