Build a Library To Call Your Own


I love books…the way they smell, the way they look, the way they feel. Even when I’m not engaged in the physical act of reading, I love having books around me. From a design perspective, books add warmth and interest to any room. They make a personal statement and generate conversation. And books never go out of style.

From the smallest grouping on a coffee table to a full-blown library, books create focal points in the same manner as a unique piece of furniture or art. Take these two case scenarios.

My husband and I used to live in a 1700-square foot loft with 14-foot high ceilings. We were always concerned that the space, with its expanses of white and concrete walls, felt too cold. For this reason, on a long, angled wall that otherwise served no purpose, we built floor to ceiling bookshelves with a rolling library ladder. Instantly, the space felt more inviting.


I use the study of my friends Bob and Anne Marie as another example. The couple designed this space around a collection of rare and antiquarian books that have been in Bob’s family for generations. The rich colors of the spines set against the dark wood bookshelves invoke a quiet intimacy. In this room, one literally is enveloped in books. Whenever I visit, I want grab a first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s “To Have and Have Not” and curl up in a big leather chair.

When creating your own library, don’t be discouraged by cost. It’s easy to rack up bills in the hundreds and thousands if you purchase every new title you fancy on Amazon (sadly, I know from experience).

But there are a lot of other options:
1. Antique and Collectible Markets and Swap Meets
2. Garage Sales
3. Online – too many sites to count, but start with the “used” vendor list on any Amazon selection, where you can find books as cheap as a penny (shipping is extra)
4. Library sales – contact your local library or visit
5. Used book stores – my city’s landmark second-hand bookstore Acres of Books closed in 2008, but my new Long Beach favorite is {open}


Scouring the racks (either virtual or real) of independent booksellers is half the fun. So start slowly, make the selection and placement of your books with care, and remember that, like people, gently used books typically have more character.

One final piece of advice about books: once you’ve amassed a collection, try not to move.

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