Few of us today have the luxury of a dedicated home library. All too often, our beloved books are stacked in a corner or crammed onto overloaded shelves, creating messy hotspots that tend to be ignored. But when properly organized and neatly displayed, books can add a lived-in feel to your home, and give your guests insight into the real you. The good news is, with a little planning there are plenty of attractive ways to store your books, no matter how limited your space.
When deciding the design of your home library, built-in and freestanding styles each have benefits and drawbacks. Built-in bookcases allow you to maximize your storage as they can be made to use all the available space, plus they can be designed to fit in seamlessly with your existing architecture. On the other hand, they can be expensive and, because they’re a permanent fixture, you can’t take them with you if you move.
A freestanding bookcase can be moved to suit your changing needs and often have adjustable shelves to accommodate more books. Plus, they can be used in clever ways such as visually separating a large living space to create more intimate zones. However, freestanding bookcases may not fit your precise dimensions or harmonize with your existing interior.
For a contemporary look, consider floating shelves which are attached to the wall. They take up minimal space and hold a decent amount of books. A shelf that runs all around a room, stacked with vertical volumes, can look stunning and won’t intrude on your floor space.
The first step is to go through your books and decide what you want to keep and what you can dispose of. Donate any unwanted books to friends or your local charity shop, and add the very tattered ones to your recycle bin. Then, you can begin to organize your books in a way that makes sense to you. It doesn’t really matter how you choose to do this, so long as you can easily find what you’re looking for.
Many people tend to categorize by subject, such as travel, cooking, or children’s books, as it can make keeping track of your books a little easier. If you’re planning to display your books in a decorative fashion, group them according to size and color for visual impact.
Where should you position your library? In short, wherever you can find the space. Although a dedicated room is ideal, lining an entire wall in the living room or hallway with bookshelves can look dramatic and will allow you to store a huge number of books. Alternatively, create symmetry in a living or dining room using the interior designers’ trick of framing a fireplace, large artwork, or doorway with a pair of bookcases.
If you have an enormous amount of books, you may need to store them in several different spots. Most books are narrow and therefore perfect for those awkward areas such as landings and the corners of your room. A well-proportioned bookcase can be very space efficient, taking up little floor space while storing a large quantity of books — this is especially true if you use every inch of space and go all the way from floor to ceiling.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.