Books are essential to completing an interior, giving any room a sense of life and character. It might be a collection of gloriously inspirational art books, an inherited set of works by Shakespeare, batter-splattered cookery books that bring to mind the memory of a special meal or a stash of well-thumbed novels, the point is that they are yours. So why not show them off?
Create a home library
Shelves built around the walls create ample storage space for books. It’s a classic look, borne of grand country houses of the 19th century, but bring it up to date by using a dark, strong colour to paint both walls and shelves. The result is an inviting and cocooning effect, which also allows the books themselves to ‘pop’ from their background. Stack books horizontally and vertically for a less formal look and add shelf lighting so that you can highlight coloured spines or eclectic mementoes.
A wall of colour
Display a collection to arresting effect by grouping coloured spines and matching sizes. Vintage Penguin paperbacks are a favourite, but you can achieve a similarly strong look with old leather-bound books or with a collection of hardbacks with their dust jackets removed to achieve a same-colour effect, or by simply grouping spines by colour for a rainbow result.
Over the door
Bookshelves built above the door not only make good use of every inch of space, they also serve to accentuate an entrance. Recessed into the wall and stopping just short of the ceiling, the shelves create a smart framed effect to the doorway with interesting sense of depth.
Make use of a niche
Shelves built into wall niches are another good use of otherwise wasted space. Typically built-in on both sides of a chimney breast in a living room, shelves can also be slotted into stud walls for a streamlined appearance, under sloping ceilings or staircases.
As a room divider
A freestanding bookshelf makes a useful room divider, especially helpful in a large open plan room to zone distinct areas, such as seating and dining. It can be as tall or short as you wish, depending on the level of divide you wish to create. The same applies to books displayed as well: pack them tightly for a solid ‘wall’ or use just a few to allow light to flow through the room.
Eye-catching book ends
Just a couple of tomes arranged between bookends always looks inviting, be they set on a shelf, a bedside cabinet or on a mantelpiece. There’s plenty of choice for elegant and witty designs; favourite sources include Jonathan Adler, House of Hackney and Fornasetti.