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Building a Library


Shelves lined with age-old books are every decorator’s tool for creating a romantic interior. They provide a cosy backdrop and sophisticated aged feel, but they are personal and often filled with memories – hand me downs, borrowed books you forgot to return and your favourite holiday read you turn to time and time again.

Building an extensive library for your home can often feel quite intimidating, and for larger bookshelves or even libraries, even for the most avid reader it can be hard to build up a collection big enough to create the look you want. However, building a library for your home doesn’t have to be arduous or expensive.

Here are our tips for creating a beautiful library however big or small your home…

A simple and easy trick that has stood the test of time when it comes to making bookshelves feel full and generous is to pepper them with trinkets. It creates a more fun and diverse interior scene. We love to use plants, little artworks or even our patchwork toys to break up the line of books.

In addition to lining your shelves with beautiful objects and collected pieces, creating a reflective and bright mirrored wall behind them is a perfect way to make the elevation pop and feel energised.

Here in this little London flat, the mirror behind the books reflects the light from the windows adjacent and helps to create a lively and fun dining scene.

Practical and pretty, coffee tables provide the perfect place to display some of your prized possessions and your favourite coffee table books. With their glossy pages and hard back covers, these beautiful books are usually non linear in their design making them perfect for dipping in and out of whilst being consistently enjoyable. Here are some of our favourites to inspire you…

An Anthology of Decorated Papers by P.J.M Marks
My new book, Design Secrets - for all your interiors inspiration
Petersham Nurseries - The Boglione Family

Another way to create a full and generous book shelf is to buy books by the metre. A little known secret is that many bookstores will sell leather bound volumes or a collection of titles by the metre to create a plentiful bookshelf that is bursting with character. We remove the jacket covers from books to let the spines shine through. It creates an opportunity for the books to add personality to the space.

Why not take a trip to some of our favourite book stores…

Much Ado Books is an award-winning independent bookshop offering both new and old books from a compound in Alfriston, East Sussex. I will be hosting a talk about my new book Design Secrets with owners Cate and Nash on 9th September.
Housing Works Bookstore - a New York downtown institution! All of the stock is donated and it is staffed almost entirely by volunteers. 100% of the profits go to fund Housing Works' lifesaving services.
Liberia London. Designed by Spanish architects SelgasCano, every aspect of Libreria is designed to help readers discover new books and ideas.

If you have a room dedicated to a library or just a corner of your living room dedicated to books, the key is to ensure the area is well lit. We do this in a number of ways including lighting a bookshelf from behind, using our trusty mirror trick at the back of the bookshelf and creating a dimmable lighting scheme for different times of the day.

We hope this post has inspired you to make space for your books and create a real moment with them at home.

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