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Bookcases & Home Libraries

A wall of bookcases or home library makes for a really beautiful feature wall in the home. There is something about the idea of having all those words, lives and historical events all contained in one place that is hugely appealing to most of us. When used as a design tool, there is a richness to a home library, a refined and learned elegance that is really hard to attain in any other way.

If you are entertaining the idea of creating a home library it is important to plan ahead as depending on your needs and reasons for installing one the design can change quite dramatically. There are three major types.

1. Display library.

In the fairly unlikely situation where you have an existing collection of rare books and first editions this is probably the type of library you are thinking of. It is a much more difficult task to start a display library if you do not already possess some considerable bibliophile treasures. In many cases, books in a display library are not meant to ever be read or consulted. These books are nothing but investment, and to protect this investment you need to consider adequate security measures, as well as storage facilities with temperature and humidity control. The inclusion of drapes or roll up blinds

might also be a sensible option to protect your precious collection from sun damage. You cannot replace your display library should anything happen to it!

2. Decorative library

If you want to show off books that do not hold any intrinsic value, but are simply beautifully crafted, your job is much more straightforward. No need to worry too much about proper storage and security, your major concerns will probably lie with the design of the shelves themselves. Still, try to treat your books as well as you can.

3. Working library

The most useful kind of home library, in my humble opinion. Usually, people who need to consult books on a regular basis turn their entire living spaces into libraries which can lead to some unusual and ingenious space finding shelf designs- the best I’ve seen was a bookcase staircase where each riser had been hollowed out to transform it into a shelf.

4. Mixed libraries

You can certainly mix the three main library types. Just be sure to separate the books, using separate bookcases for various types of books. You can also have, for instance, a display library next to the dining room and a working library upstairs etc.

Some people turn their noses up at the idea of using bookcases or home libraries purely as design tools but I don’t buy into all this snobbery. My much maligned (in these pages anyway) fiancé currently wants a home library and doesn’t even own a book! I think its great idea for two reasons- firstly my bank balance is breathing a huge sigh of relief as the media we need to cover our walls now costs a few pence and requires lovely days out in thrift stores and quirky little charity shops (unveiling hidden gems such as “The Complete Guide Loving” and “Mod- Fashion for Hip Cats” – now we understand each other AND own Parkas) – a massive improvement on trawling soulless motorway DIY stores for wallpapers with palpitation inducing prices. Secondly, a full wall of books is a fantastic sound barrier between you and your neighbours and, much as I appreciated my neighbour’s Abba appreciation nights I also fully endorse scientific theories of our need for sleep.

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