Literary Havens: Ideas for a Home Library That's Bound to Impress

Home Library
There’s nothing like the space created by a home library for your family to relax, unwind, and curl up with a good book. However, it can be difficult to visualize the cozy reading nook you know will add to your living space.

Home Library Ideas and Reading Nook Inspiration: 22 Examples from Professional Interior Designers

1. Beverly Hills Reading Room

Beverly Hills Reading Room
Photo Credit: Meghan Bob

This Beverly Hills reading room enhances the room’s original design using color. "The owner of this 1920’s Beverly Hills Spanish home with rich walnut floors and clean white walls wanted a dedicated reading area,” says Karen Harautuneian, owner and Principal designer at Hub of the House Studio. “By layering a comfy reading chair, coffee table, rug, and floor lamp in front of the breakfast room bookshelves, we transformed a formerly unused space into a reading library.”

2. Welcoming Library Room​​

Folding Chair Design Co. Library
Photo credit: Jenn Verrier.

While designing the Welcoming Library Room, Principal Designer Jennifer Walter chose to emphasize the room's most dominant features. “Since we were using a predominantly white color palette in this area, keeping the white shelves made sense,” she said. ”We chose to make them a bit heftier so they still commanded the room and highlighted the amber tones of the select accessories."

Additionally, the location of the room, near the entry of this beautiful home, meant that it was advantageous to keep the space free of clutter.

3. Deep Gray Library/Study

Deep Gray Library/Study
Photo credit: Jenn Verrier.

The team at Folding Chair Design painted the bookshelf in this library deep gray to isolate all of the white walls beyond the office.

Later, they decided that it was advantageous to add a bold pop of color. “We found a rainbow of books in the basement that we used in color blocks to infuse a big color pop in this otherwise monochromatic space,” said Jennifer Walter.

4. Open and Airy Reading Room

Cohesively Curated Interiors Library
Photo credit: Carina Skrobeck

The Open and Airy Reading Room creates a visually textured look by using a mix of closed and open storage. “If you're using furniture for storage like we did in this space, I like to have a dresser or credenza for closed storage and open shelves for baskets and decorative items,” says Emily Ruff, Owner and Principal Designer of Cohesively Curated Interiors. “When styling shelves, the key is to have a mix of different types of items and alternate which sides of the shelves they go on, so you don't have two items of the same type next to one other or above/below each other.”

5. Mid-Century Modern Living Room Library

Mod-Century Living Room Library
Photo Credits: Christian Caribaldi

"The living room in this mid-century modern style is all about contrast and drama. For this built-in, I went with an all-white color scheme to create a unified look throughout the living room. For styling the shelves, the black paint serves as a focal point, making all of the pieces stand out,” said Karen Wolf of Karen B Wolf Interiors.

6. Bedroom Library Nook

Bedroom Library Nook
Photo credit: Christian Caribaldi

The Bedroom Library Nook uses lines and color to separate sleeping and study space. "The color of this hot pink room extends to the walls,” says Karen Wolf of Karen B Wolf Interiors.“It also features upholstered cork boards that serve as a functional study area while adding stylish storage features.”

7. Cozy Reading Corner

Cozy Reading Corner
Photo credit: Christian Caribaldi

In the Cozy Reading Corner, storage is key. “We included smart storage elements to make tidying up quick and easy,” says Karen Wolf. Additionally, “adding a cozy corner to the room creates a private space where you may relax and unwind.”

8. Bespoke Family Room Library

Bespoke Family Room Library
​​Photo credit: Wendy Concannon

The design team at Melinda Kelson O’Connor Architecture & Interiors took advantage of the many functions of the Bespoke Family Room Library by adding a bespoke wall of cabinetry. A sliding TV door, a secret door to the back pantry, and electronics storage visually and practically maximized the space as well.

9. Living Room Library

Living Room Library Design
Photo credit: Kern & Co.

While designing the Living Room Library, the main focus was on book storage. “You have to think of how much storage will be needed and how the library will be used,” said Susan Spath, president of design firm, Kern & Company. “If the client has a large collection of books, I like to know ahead of time so I can design the built-ins around that.”

Additionally, Spath recommends taking advantage of high ceilings in a home library, as “floor to ceiling shelving and bookcases can add a lot of storage to the space, but also give the library a great look,” she explains.

10. Wall-to-Wall Library

Wall-to-Wall Library
Photographer credit to Werner Straube.

The design team at Marshall Erb Design wanted to create a masculine feel for the owner of the Wall-to-Wall Library. “I implemented wall-to-wall custom shelving units for a fitting backdrop and added colorful books to decorate the shelves,” says Marshall Erb. “In front of the shelves, a navy mohair sectional sofa sits on top of a bold patterned rug and vintage navy blue cowhide chairs. The dark, moody colors transform the space into a masculine retreat for the homeowner.”

11. Classic Library Office

Classic Library Office

Photographer credit: Daisy Burns Photography

The owner of the Classic Library Office specifically requested just that: a classic library office. To make it happen, designer Jill Shevlin first selected oak flooring, a cerused oak wood inset bookcase, and tongue and groove V-joint ceiling panels. When it came to lighting, “satin nickel sconce lights were mounted, provided great accent lighting, while a chandelier hangs beautifully in the center of the room,” Shevlin said.

12. Multi-Functional Reading Room

Multi-Functional Reading Room
Credit: Maria DeCotiis Interior Design

The goal of the multi-functional reading room was to create a space with different workspaces and plenty of storage space. Maria DeCotiis, owner of Maria DeCotiis Interior Design, made sure to take inventory of what was needed to go into the space to ensure there was ample storage. When her team was ready to furnish the space, “we placed a table in the room for family game night or a place to do puzzles,” and “included a beautiful upholstered bench seat with tufted back and sconces to create the perfect sitting area to read in.”

13. White Oak Library and Study

White Oak Library and Study
Credit: MC Design

In the White Oak Library and Study, the white oak cabinets contrast with the pop of color provided by the books. According to Megan Dufresne, Principal Designer at MC Design, “we displayed the books by color for a dramatic effect that brought some fun to an otherwise serious space.”

14. TV-Free Reading Room

TV-Free Reading Room

For clients who requested a TV-free reading room, Joan Kaufman of Interior Planning & Design in Naperville, Illinois, designed custom pine wood built-ins with a heavy crown molding. “The knotty pine wood provides a warm, cozy and relaxed ambiance, perfect for reading,” said Kaufman. Additionally, the team “selected leather Chesterfield-style sofa and chairs with a gold inset table.”

15. Landing Library

Landing Library
Photo by Kacey Gilpin Photography

Cortney McClure, of Cortney McClure Design, had to get a little creative with the placement of the Landing Library with a cute window seat. “These built-ins at the top of the stairs turned out to be the perfect place for a home library,” McClure said. “Even with a small collection of books, adding in decorations and meaningful elements created a cozy space to unwind.”

16. Cozy Library

Cozy Library
Photo by Havenly

The designers of the Cozy Library felt that an inviting atmosphere is key in a library. “As you can see from the above design, we added a comfy chaise, candles, and of course, layers upon layers of coziness that beckon you to linger for ‘just one more chapter,’” said Toussaint Derby, the lead designer at Havenly of this project.

17. Impressionist Library

Impressionist Library
Credit: Erika Bierman Photography

Allison Knizek, of Allison Knizek Design, used the owner’s French Impressionist Painting as a guide while designing the rest of the Impressionist Library. “ It allowed me to successfully bring in some blues, purples, and golds along with the graphic black and white, which help balance an assortment of colorful books,” said Knizek. “Even though I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I don’t like to ‘over stage’ a home library.”

18. Sunlit Library

Sunlit Library

To Mark Cutler, of Culterschulze Interiors, a library doesn’t have to be a dark, musty room. For a young family, Cutler designed a bright, open room, with plenty of natural light, as libraries aren’t just used to display books, but “family photos and treasured items,” Cutler said.

Additionally, Cutler recommended “not being afraid to hang things on the shelves, not just in the shelves, it can help build a lot more visual depth and interest.”

19. Attic Library

Attic Library

Lucy Small of State and Season Home Design & Supply loves functional spaces that are a joy to be in. That’s why, when confronted with the opportunity to design the Attic Library, it only made sense to take the dark and musty attic and “change it completely.” To make the room bigger, Small “had to make it brighter - that meant blowing out the small window and adding a triple window for more light, and replacing the dark walls with a bright wainscot and shiplap.” The result is a beautiful, minimalist library space perfect for relaxing with a good book or sneaking in some extra productive hours at the desk.

20. Sitting Room Library

Sitting Room Library

To tackle the Sitting Room Library, Megan Hersch, co-founder and designer at roomLift, first “removed the dated wall upholstery and replaced it with a fresh coat of white paint, new drapes and sconces,” which breathed a new life into the room. Then, Hersch shopped for accessories from modern design stores to be sure she didn’t slip back into the heavy traditional feeling of the dark bookcase.

For those looking to create a similar atmosphere, Hersch recommends, “working around pieces that you love.”

21. Contrast Library

Contrast Library
Credit: Sean Litchfield

For the family who commissioned the Contrast Library, book storage was most important. Becky Shea, of Becky Shea Design, said that “the first order of business was to measure the lengths of their existing shelves where they kept all their books so we could get a sense of linear footage requirements to achieve a functional, approachable space that they could continue to build their library.” From there, Becky’s team “talked about navigating the direction of organization and we suggested our signature reading rainbow layout.”

What Becky loves most about the space is how universal and inviting it is– as even with the black millwork, the space feels approachable and allows for the books to shine.

22. Nook Library

Nook Library
Photo by Havenly

To Toussaint Derby, Lead Designer at Havenly, any size is a good size for a library. “If you don't have an entire room to dedicate to your home library, don't worry, you can nab any nook or corner and make it the perfect place to get lost in your favorite book,” Derby said. “As shown above, we started with the perfect chair and footstool to put your feet up on, and a small bookcase. Adding the pillow, throw, and decor, keeps the cushy factor going. What this nook lacked in space, it made up for in charm.”

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What Should You Consider When Designing a Home Library?

There are a few things to consider before starting to design a library for your own home. The first, and most important, question is, “where do I want the library placed?” Do you prefer it in the living room, for everyone to see, or tucked away in a secluded home office? Amy Youngblood, Owner & Principal Designer of  Amy Youngblood Interiors, says that “a home library is not just a place to store books but can be turned into a focal point and dictates furniture placement in the rest of the room,” and recommends comfortable seating, adequate lighting, and methodical organization of books.

Mindy O’Connor says to start by “determining what types of reading material you have, and the general dimensions of them.” Next, O’Connor says, “map out an appropriate grid for an entire wall, or look for any unused spaces or closets that can be co-opted and converted into a nook or library,” because, “once you develop a basic pattern to organize the space, you can introduce variety in the color, materials, or textures.”

How to Make a Home Library Work in a Small Space

To many, creating a small home library can feel like a daunting task. When you think of a home library, it’s easy to picture large spaces with high-shelves and a library ladder to readh the top. But libraries can also work in smaller spaces. Amy Youngblood recommends “really making sure you’re methodical in the way you're organizing your book collection,” to avoid a cluttered look.

Additionally, Youngblood recommends taking the covers off of your books, as they’ll look cleaner and more cohesive when stacked next to each other. She also “utilizes decor to create different levels of visual interest, as it will help your library feel more open instead of crammed.

Written by
Sasha Weilbaker
Sasha Weilbaker is a freelance writer with bylines in Thrillist, Business Insider, and The Vegetarian Times. She's particularly interested in the intersection of sustainability and materials. In the wild, she can be found cycling around New England, scouting coffee shops, or obsessing over new podcasts.
Sasha Weilbaker
Written by
Sasha Weilbaker
Sasha Weilbaker is a freelance writer with bylines in Thrillist, Business Insider, and The Vegetarian Times. She's particularly interested in the intersection of sustainability and materials. In the wild, she can be found cycling around New England, scouting coffee shops, or obsessing over new podcasts.
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