How to Design a Beautiful Custom Home Library

These days, some may wonder: is the custom home library a feature of the past? As a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! showed, Americans don’t read that much – some people can’t even name a single book title! According to a Pew Research poll, one in four Americans said they didn’t read a book last year. At the same time, for many of us, “a home without books is like a body without a soul” (quote attributed to: Marcus Tullius Cicero). In reality, we still see a demand for home libraries, as well as built-in bookshelves in bedrooms, offices, and living rooms. If you’re considering adding a custom library to your space, here’s how to get started.

custom home library

Bookcases and Cabinetry: Of course, home library design begins with bookcases and cabinetry. For a more contemporary or modern aesthetic, consider built-in shelving with clean lines in light neutrals, like a minimalistic library with white shelving and silver hardware. For a more traditional look, consider darker wood grains and floor-to-ceiling shelving with luxurious details, like crown molding and built-in lighting.

  • Cabinetry with features like doors and drawers for hidden storage allow for multifunctional libraries, ideal for families and hobbyists.
  • Glass doors can stylishly display and protect rare books, awards, and memorabilia.

Lighting: In a custom-designed home library, lighting is important for two key reasons: ambiance and easy reading. To better serve both, consider a combination of lighting sources:

  • Reading lamps and overhead lights. Chandeliers and wall sconces add an old-world charm. Minimalistic overhead lights can be tilted to illuminate books just right.
  • Accent lighting. Built-in lighting can highlight collections of antique books, as well as artwork, photographs, vases, and more.
  • Natural lighting. If your library has windows, consider adding a window reading nook to take advantage of natural light.

Seating and Furniture: Whether you envision a comfy book nook or an office-library-bedroom combo, great seating is a must-have for a custom home library. Here are a few things you may want to add:

  • A built-in reading nook or desk. In this contemporary library, the desk is a natural extension of the bookshelf.
  • A comfortable chaise lounge, couch, or circle of book club chairs.
  • A Library Murphy Bed. Yes, you can have that! Library Murphy Beds feature a sliding bookcase that parts in the middle to reveal a queen-sized bed. Both elements are fully functional.

custom home library with Murphy bed

A Touch of Charm: Ultimately, a custom-designed home library should reflect your personal style and aesthetic. Add some charm with accessories like:

  • Artwork hanging from shelves, intermingled with books, or featured on display shelves.
  • Photo albums, family heirlooms, and souvenirs.
  • Flowers and plants.
  • Small accents like glass bowls, vases, statuettes, and figurines.
  • Custom draperies or window treatments.
  • Accent rugs, throws, and pillows.
  • A libation station for reading-meets-relaxing.

Book-reading may be taking on new forms with e-readers and smartphones, but beautiful home libraries featuring favorite books, art, and family heirlooms are here to stay. To get started on yours, give us a call at Strickland’s Closets & Home Organization. We’ll help you choose your must-have elements for your custom home library, as well as all the finishing details you have yet to dream up.


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