Whether you’ve got few, or several books in your possession, the actual trick is to arrange them in a means which is visually appealing as their contents. Most of us can only aspire to that Ikea neatness, but House & Garden’s Emily Senior plenty of other ideas in mind. Here, she takes us on a tour of their most beautiful and beguiling bookcases to inspire your library-in-the-making.
Firstly you don’t automatically need shelves – a few novels, especially coffee table selection – are meant to be shown flat. Stack them on ottomans, mantelpieces and (of course ) coffee tables, such as the proprietor of that apartment in Pimlico.
The Georgian’s knew a thing or two about bookshelf layout, and there is some elements out of this library at an Eighteenth-century home in Bath that can be copied. The panelling this is a excellent bespoke replica, but plain Ikea’Billy’ bookshelves fitted using fresh reeded uprights (the vertical woodwork) and Georgian design architraves can look as great. Another point to notice in this space: heaps of floor-stacked books look great if you run out of space on shelves.
Beata Heuman is one of the top interior designers to watch this season. Just see these built-in bookshelves in the kitchen of her London apartment . Notice the built in wine-rack – genius.
Perhaps you have noticed stepped shelves like this? It’s an ideal contemporary library.
Google’antique library trolley’ or’classic whatnot’ (‘whatnot’ definition: a rack with shelves for small objects) and you’re going to be fulfilled with all manner of amazing bookshelves ideal for small spaces. Dark wood Victorian and Edwardian shelves haven’t become mass-market fashionable (yet) the way mid-century has. They are still cheap as chips on Ebay, great with more modern pieces, and usually beautifully made. Maddux Creative have instantly made a corner of this converted Queens Park mill comfy by pairing among the aforementioned library trolleys with a fantastic collection of vintage medicine bottles and a classic chaise longue covered in hessian.
If you’re a fan of mid-century you have to understand more about the job of Charlotte Perriand. A protege of Le Corbusier, she was a trailblazing designer, and her famous bookshelves haven’t aged a minute. Buy first from 1stDibs, reproductions in Cassina, or do as designer Suzy Hoodless has here and make bespoke shelves motivated by her designs. Perfect with these chic’Platner Easy Chairs’ – a Sixties design by Warren Platner.
If you have got a fireplace with recesses it’s insanity not to place bookshelves in them. Paint them in contrasting colours like designer Ben Pentreath, that has painted this Georgian flat on Great Ormond Street a gentle pink,’Calamine’ from Farrow & Ball (aka. The best pink paint in the world), with a milder weathered grey on the woodwork.
These shelves from a project by Maddux Creative would be simple to replicate with older wine crates (yes, really). If you’re not big on DIY only commission a local joiner to put together something like you using reclaimed timber from you local salvage yard (that are inclined to need more work, but have a better patina) or new boards varnished a dark colour.
If your book collection is at its infancy, and also your shelves are looking a bit bare, then make a characteristic of it. Background the trunk of them as Turner Pocock have here, and pick up some wonderful objet d’art to fill any empty space. Ebay, Portobello Market on a Friday, or Spitalfields Market on Wednesday or Thursday, are Excellent for sourcing shelf-filling odds and ends.
Maria Speake out of Retrouvius made these shelves for the owners of this Barbican flat, from reclaimed parquet floor rescued out of a school. Colour coordinated bookshelves are always a fantastic idea.
Another case in point – that time filled with colour-coordinated Penguin paperbacks, readily available from any second-hand bookshop. Another amazing thing about those shelves, which are at a flat above a bar in east London, is how expansive they seem thanks to the addition of a pair of Georgian pillars found at a reclamation yard in Epsom.
And finally, if shelves are not your thing, here is evidence that virtually anything seems better with books on it. A layout tip gleaned from this bedroom at the French house of John Gordon, co-founder of Intelligence Squared. A ladder stacked with books is practically the only piece of furniture aside from the bed and it looks fantastic.