Written on
February 2, 2017

How to Build a Fabulous Custom Home Library

There's nothing like cuddling up with a great book.

Even the legendary Mark Twain wrote "good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience; this is the ideal life."

Your custom home library is exactly that—a sanctuary where you and your guests can relax with their favorite books and publications. 

It's the ideal place to study for those college entrance exams, soak in that latest best-selling novel, and entertain guests during the holidays. 

A home library isn't something you see every day either, so why not use your renovation investment to bring back this classic home addition for your friends and family to enjoy?

Keep reading because we're about to tell you everything you need to know to create your own dream library in your home. 

Custom Home Library Bookshelves 

The best part about creating a home library is that you can turn any vacant room into a library. 

In fact, this is a great opportunity to transform that guest bedroom you're not using or your kids' former play room. 

Bookshelves come in several different styles, ranging from antique carved wood to sleek and modern. 

There are some of our favorite types of bookshelves according to the experts at Better Homes & Gardens:

  • Corner bookcases
  • Vintage bookshelves with ladders
  • Professionally built-in bookshelves
  • Movable bookcases

To create a classic home library, we recommend using tall bookshelves. However, shorter bookcases work great for home libraries for kids. 

Your choices aren't limited to wood either. Depending on the style of your custom home, you may also want to consider metal shelves, plastic, mixed material shelves, marble, and even glass. 

How To Decorate Your Bookshelves

Don't forget to add a dash of style to your library too. In addition to filling up your shelves with classic novels and encyclopedias, you should also adorn your shelves with decorative collectibles. 

For starters, try these tried and true decorations for your shelves:

  • Picture frames and miniature framed artwork
  • Antique bookends
  • Vases filled with fresh flowers
  • Statue busts

But that's not all. 

We also looked to the experts at Elle Decor for even more ideas to style your custom home library shelves:

  • Add glass doors to your bookcases to create a "polished finish."
  • Decorative rocks and minerals.
  • Replicas of artifacts.
  • Miniature laps and attached sconces 
  • Stacked decorative cubes
  • Cuckoo clocks
  • Large conch shells and other decorative shells

We recommend installing bookcases with shelves with at least 12 to 14 inches of width to avoiding crowding your shelves, or worse, breaking your decorative collectibles.

How To Display Your Books

This next tip is easily overlooked but can make a world of difference for your custom home library. 

Did you know your own books play an instrumental role in the style of your library?

It's true, and we're breaking down the top display techniques you need to know to help your library pop:

You don't have to create just rows upon rows of vertical book spines in your shelves. In fact, we recommend breaking up your books into small stacks as well. 

This way, you and your guests and better see what books are available to read. Plus, you can place some of your decorative collectibles right on top of your stacks to style your shelves. 

Books that lean diagonally against your book stacks is another way to grab people's attention. We also recommend making some of your books face out, especially those with compelling book covers to draw people in. 

Add A Splash Of Color

Your library books also play a key role in the overall color palette of your custom home library.

The experts at Elle Decor recommend sorting your books by color to create a cool color-blocking effect, as shown in this stylish library from world-renown designers, Badgley and Mischka.

Elle Decor also recommends selecting books with a similar color or hue. This works especially well in home libraries with primarily white color palettes. 

Art books are great for adding splashes of color to your library, plus, you can face them out to make a real impact.

Arrange Your Seating and Furniture

You can't enjoy a good book without a nice place to sit. That's why your custom home library should have at least 2 to 3 different seating options. 

There are so many seating options for your custom home library. Try some of these favorite styles at home:

  • Loveseat couches
  • Rustic rocking chairs
  • Vintage paisley or floral reading chairs
  • Funky patchwork reading chairs
  • Wide comfy armchairs
  • Large bean bag chairs for kids rooms
  • Comfy swivel chairs
  • Oversized circular chairs

After you've chosen your chairs and sofas, your next step is to furnish your custom home library with additional furniture like the following:

  • Coffee tables
  • Vintage desks
  • End tables
  • Ottomans

One trend we love to see in home libraries are fireplaces. If your space already has a classic fireplace, great!

If not, definitely consider installing one in your new library. This is a great way to turn your home library into a gathering space for friends and family. 

Lighting and More Custome Home Library Tips

You can't read without light but forget overly bright fluorescent lighting. 

We recommend taking advantage of natural sunlight if you can. Therefore, if your custom home library already has large windows, keep the curtains drawn during the day.

You can also professionally install large arch windows, awning windows, transom windows, or vintage bay windows for example. 

For reading after sundown, we recommend the following lighting tips to illuminate your library:

  • Ambient lighting
  • Adjustable dim lighting
  • Accent lights
  • Decorative hanging lights
  • Chandeliers
  • Wall sconces

You'll also want to include "task lighting" like desk lamps, end table lamps, and reading lamps. 

You can also use lighting to add a splash of color as well, as a few color-tinted lights can liven up your library a bit. We also recommend installing colored lights in your kids' own custom library as well. 

Now, you're ready to sit back and relax with that novel you've been dying to start.

You're well on your way toward creating that reading sanctuary you've always wanted, so don't forget to bookmark this guide to create the ideal reading space for you and your guests.  

Article written by:
David Le Prevost