10 Ways Your Home Library Design Can Be a Quiet Retreat

Home Library Design

If you love to read and want to organize your book collection, learn about home library designs. You may dedicate an entire room to your home library or carve out a section of an existing space.

Home Library Basics

While the term "home library" conjures images of ornate wood shelves and paneling, dusty books and elaborate leather chairs, there are several ways to design home libraries as well as reasons you might choose to create one:

  • A quiet retreat for reading and contemplation
  • Entertaining space for guests after dinner
  • Organization of books, documents and collectibles
  • Study space for children
  • Home office space

Shelving Options

One of the main components of a library, besides the books, are the shelves that house them. You may order custom, built-in shelves or opt for ready-made freestanding shelves. The advantage of custom built shelves is that you can specify the overall dimensions and choose a material such as hardwood that will be durable and work with the overall aesthetic of the room. If possible, build the shelves all the way to the ceiling for a continuous, elegant effect. You may need a library ladder or step stool to reach books on high shelves, but they only contribute to the ambiance of the room. When designing a double-height library space, install a catwalk with railing.

Custom-made shelves may be out of your budget; instead, opt for store-bought versions. Be sure to anchor the shelves to the wall so that the weight of the books doesn't cause them to fall over. Choose sturdy shelves that can accommodate heavy volumes to avoid sagging in the middle. Shelves with glass doors look especially refined.


Since you are in charge of the organization of your home library, it is not necessary to follow the Dewey Decimal System. Organize books alphabetically, by topic or even by color.

Home Library Decor

The decor of home libraries can range from traditional to modern, depending on your preference and the rest of the decor within your home. Soften the space with rugs and comfortable seating, such as a long sofa or individual chairs for reading. Mingle decorative items with the books on your shelves, such as travel souvenirs, magnifying glasses and marble or bronze busts of writers and philosophers. You may also display collections such as coins or stamps.


Choose a room with few windows and limit natural light to avoid damaging and discoloring your books. If you enjoy reading by natural light during the day, install shades and curtains to control light during the harshest hours. If you collect rare or antique books, consider installing a climate control system or placing these items in glass cases.

Eschew bright, overhead lighting and opt for soft lamps and task lights for reading. Consider installing lighting within your bookshelves to illuminate your collection.

Home Libraries and Offices

Create your home library in a room adjacent to or combine it with a home office. Include a substantial desk and any other supplies you need to work such as a printer or fax. Obscure this equipment within decorative storage cabinets or use a room divider to partition the space. You may also explore your hobbies within your home library such as knitting or sewing, scrap-booking or painting, or install a poker table for game night.

Incorporate Libraries in Other Rooms

If you don't have an entire room to dedicate as a home library, consider incorporating it within another room or space in your home. Carve out bookshelves beneath a staircase or into the walls along the stair. A wide hallway or foyer can also serve as a mini-library, and a quiet alcove in your bedroom is ideal for a reading nook.

Examples of Home Library Designs

For a little inspiration, look at these online image collections or purchase books on home library designs:

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10 Ways Your Home Library Design Can Be a Quiet Retreat