In Read Blogs
30 Stunning Home Libraries That Are a Book Lover’s Dream
Though we may be in the digital age, no technology can compare to the feeling of a good book in your hands. And we want to showcase our copies of Proust and Nietzsche in a space that’s comfortable, personal, and unique. While public and university libraries are often vast and full of splendor, home libraries are more intimate (but not any less gorgeous). The room can be formal and elegant or colorful and cozy, and stylish focal points like a fireplace, desk, or snug sitting area keep things just as interesting as the volumes on the shelves. Here, we gathered up the best home libraries from our archives.
Photo: Robert C. Lautman
In Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood, Simon Jacobsen, a partner at Jacobsen Architecture, joined two 1863 row houses, creating a residence for him and his family. A living room was transformed into a library with egg-cratelike shelving, chairs and tables by Le Corbusier and Eames, and a desk designed by the architect.
Photo: Tony Soluri
It “makes vague reference to the classical Ionic order,” Katherine Newman says of the library in a postmodern Toronto house she designed with architectural designer/builder Peter Cebulak. The room’s finely carved capitals are complemented by a great number of noteworthy antiques, among them a circa 1790 satinwood worktable.
Photo: Peter Aaron/Esto
“I wanted to have a library that doubled as a dining room, where I could be surrounded by the books I love,” says best-selling author and historian Barbara Goldsmith, who hired interior designer Mica Ertegün to update and decorate her Park Avenue apartment.
Photo: Scott Frances
Designer Stephen Shadley and actress Diane Keaton, who has a passion for restoring old California homes, turned the double-height entrance hall of her Spanish Colonial Revival house in Beverly Hills into an entrance library, filling it with pots and other artifacts as well as books devoted to the visual arts. “The library sets the mood,” explains Shadley. “It’s a distillation of everything that goes on in the house.”
Photo: Ken Hayden
At a house she remodeled in California’s Carmel Valley, designer Sally Sirkin Lewis encircled the library with shelves, added French doors to bring in views of the lush landscape, and outfitted the space with Le Corbusier Grand Confort armchairs.
Photo: Durston Saylor
Architect David Ling renovated an Upper East Side apartment for a bibliophile neurosurgeon and incorporated a rare-book library—which Ling described as “the centerpiece of the design”—to the mix. Medical books, some dating to the 15th century, line the modern shelves. The sitting area features a Mies van der Rohe Barcelona table surrounded by a Le Corbusier love seat and sling-back chairs.
Photo: Derry Moore
Among the improvements designer Friederike Kemp Biggs with architect George W. Sweeney made to her penthouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was adding a mahogany-paneled library. The favorite retreat of her husband, Jeremy, the room features an antique desk and a flat-screen TV concealed behind faux book bindings. There is an inscription on the ceiling adapted from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams in 1815: “I cannot live without my books.”
Photo: Pieter Estersohn
New York City decorator Thomas Jayne restored a 19th-century house in Philadelphia to its former glory. In the library, where French Empire chairs flank an English Regency table, the bookshelf also serves as a backdrop for art.
Photo: Kim Sargent
At a 1912 McKim, Mead & White building in Manhattan, Alexa Hampton installed custom bookcases that curve with the walls of the oval library. Gracing the space is a jewel-like metal frieze, while the curtains and tufted love seats, covered in powder-blue cotton velvet, add a gentle dose of color.
Photo: Arthur Matthew Gray
Architect Margaret Griffin, in collaboration with architect Elyse Grinstein, renovated a home on Los Angeles’s West Side, an area that has natural creeks and groves of indigenous trees. The star tree here is a 300-year-old sycamore that shades a small spring and lush slope in back. The snug library “started out with a full brick wall facing the tree,” explains the owner, but the brick was replaced by sheets of glass to bridge the room’s connection to the outdoors.
Photo: Pieter Estersohn
After Hurricane Katrina, designer Richard Keith Langham revisited and refreshed a Mississippi house he first decorated two decades ago. Dealer Kinsey Marable built the library’s varied book collection based on the owner’s interests; he also supplied the 19th-century ladder and antique globe.
Photo: Steven Brooke
For a house on Harbour Island in the Bahamas, Lea Ciavarra and Anne Marie Lubrano, of Lubrano Ciavarra Architects, utilized Bahamian colonial-era details and natural materials. The central gathering place is the soaring two-story library, a cube measuring 24 feet in all directions. As in most other portions of the house, the room is lined with dense, termite-resistant South American ipê wood.
In the library of this Manhattan townhouse decorated by Vicente Wolf, the tufted armchair is covered in a metallic leather by Edelman; the carpet is by Stark.
This Washington, D.C. library, decorated by Mariette Himes Gomez, is dominated by paneling painted in a Donald Kaufman hue that recalls Wedgwood drabware; the neutral color scheme is warmed by the ruddy tones of the carpet.
An Empire chandelier lights the library of Rose Hill, an 18th-century Virginia residence. Shelves designed by Amelia T. Handegan, who also decorated the room, hold books that have belonged to the home for nearly two centuries.
Kara Childress decorated a Texas home with a Louis XVI desk and 17th-century Spanish portrait sourced from France.
In a Houston home, decorator Miles Redd lacquered the library’s paneling and installed a chandelier by Robert Kime over a George II drum table found at Sotheby’s and George III–style chairs purchased at Christie’s.
Photo: Oberto Gili
Architect Laura Sartori Rimini and interior designer Roberto Peregalli of Studio Peregalli crafted this Milanese pied-à-terre for an Italian family in the fabric business. The duo drew inspiration from original architectural details to create the library, a stately space overseen by two early-19th-century portraits; the custom-made sofas are covered in a Madeleine Castaing fabric by Brunschwig & Fils.
Photo: Simon Upton
In the library of accessories designer Fiona Kotur’s Hong Kong home, the pair of Christian Liaigre armchairs and the custom-made sofa and its pillows are all covered in Manuel Canovas fabrics; the cocktail table is by Yves Klein, while the Moroccan carpet from Woven Accents and the floor lamp in the corner are both vintage.
Photo: Richard Powers
At a historic New Jersey estate, decorator Matthew Frederick designed the library’s sofas, whose simple lines defer to the exuberant architecture; the rug is by Merida.
Photo: Pieter Estersohn
In the library of a Nick Olsen–designed Brooklyn brownstone, picture lights from Circa Lighting top the bookcases; the sofa is by Dune.
Photo: Scott Frances
In the living room of Manhattan townhouse revamped by Sawyer | Berson, neoclassical French mirrors from H. M. Luther flank a Picasso ink drawing and a Sawyer | Berson–designed mantel made by Chesney’s. The bespoke sofa and club chairs, all upholstered in a Larsen silk, are grouped atop an antique Herati carpet, and a Holland & Sherry velvet covers the walls.
Courtesy of ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST