With a lining of bookcases and a comfy reading chair, an unused space transforms into a cozy, clubby DIY library.
Once a blank wall in a large living room, this inviting corner now brims with the possibilities of transport to other times and places through the joys of reading.
We configured the shelving to match the space constraints and attached the ready-to-assemble bookcases to walls and each other for a cohesive built-in look. Beige on ivory provides a light background.
Warm colors wrap the space in coziness, while family interests are displayed on the shelving amongst favored tomes. Russet leather and nubby kilim and vintage fabrics add the well-worn look of an English gentleman’s retreat.
Nothing offers a dedicated reader more gratification than rows of bookcases waiting to be filled. Varying the orientation of your volumes adds visual interest. When arranging decorative items on shelves, think in layers: Larger items at back, smaller in front. Employ some of your books as objects to stack, arrange, and use as props for other stuff.
Break up rows of books with displays of ephemera such as this mid-nineteenth-century mortgage of the still extant Hardwick House in Sussex County, England.
A stack of vintage suitcases makes a simple improvised side table that also provides space for stashing stuff such as cozy throws or extra pillows. Graduate the size of your cases as you stack for the sake of stability, but there’s no need to worry about having a matching set. A variety of materials or finishes can make a charming visual display. Pay attention to construction, however; cases with sloping sides are not suitable table surfaces.
Personalize your reading retreat with textiles that reference your travels or interests. For an Anglophile and reader of British history, what could be more appropriate than the Union Jack?
A comfortable footstool is de rigeur for any serious reading chair. Covered with a durable rug scrap or heavy upholstery fabric, it will hold up to use as occasional seating and emergency stepstool.
Cover a Footstool
Gather your materials
- Upholstery fabric
- Measuring tape
- Pliers and screwdriver
- Cotton batting
Measure the width and length of the covered top of your footstool, add four inches to the measurement of each side. Remove the screws attaching the top of the footstool to its frame and save.
Detach the top and lay it face down on a sturdy surface. Using your screwdriver, loosen staples holding fabric and pull with pliers. Remove the fabric. If the cushion underneath is damaged, remove it as well.
Cut a piece of foam to replace the damaged cushion. Trim a piece of cotton batting to the measurements of your covered top and place over the foam. Wrap the batting to the underside of the top and staple it in place. Cut your upholstery fabric using your measurements, or use the old covering as a template to cut the new top.
NOTE: Before cutting, pay attention to your fabric motif so that any pattern will be centered on the finished top.
Fold cut fabric over the top, smooth it to the back and staple in place underneath, pulling the fabric snug as you work. Replace the top on the frame and secure with the screws.
Organizing your books
By subject: Take a cue from the public library and corral books by subject matter, which simplifies retrieving, say, a favorite cookbook or gardening manual whose author you can’t remember.
By period: Within each subject, sort in chronological order. For example, if you collect history books, start with general works then follow with earlier through later period histories. Refine further by location: general Renaissance history, for example, followed by the Renaissance in Italy, in France, and so on.
By author: Works of literature and other much-loved favorites are easiest to find when grouped by writer. This way might be best if your library consists mostly of those tomes you’ve read and will want to revisit soon, or if you collect many works by the same authors.
By color: The preferred organizational method of many an interior designer—especially for a library that exists mostly for looks rather than exploration—arranging book by jacket hue offers a cohesive visual presentation. See an example here.
Enhance your library and reading experience with these products:
This sleek journal provides plenty of room to record details of your reading experiences.
For a bibliophile, there’s no greater pleasure than sharing beloved books, but no crueler pain than losing them for good. Revive old-fashioned library circulation techniques for book retention with this fun kit. And for those of you who loan LOTS of books, refill cards are available.
Anyone who’s ever been called a bookworm needs this t-shirt!
The Shakespeare Insults mug is covered with the funniest and most biting insults from Bard’s plays. Memorize them for a catalogue of ripostes!
Photography by David Kreutz
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