Monday, January 19, 2009

Library Love

I know that this isn't a house design blog, but sometimes a girl doesn't quite feel like online shopping. I hope you'll excuse the digression. While I've been home for winter break (I go back to New York tomorrow, so expect many posts on how ridiculously cold it is and how I need to buy an arctic parka), I've been thinking a lot about bookshelves. I have a little three shelf deal in my apartment at school, which I quickly filled up. I started stacking books on my desk, dresser, windowsills, air-conditioner, the floor... wherever I can. But at home, I have this nice custom-designed unit my parents got for me when I was in middle school, as a sort of "We're sorry we forgot to tell you we were moving until we already bought another house, so here's this huge bookshelf/cabinet/desk thing." But it's all white, and pretty boring, and I want to do better when, many years of now, I create the home library of my dreams.

Here's my fantasy library, courtesy of Beauty and the Beast. Look at those staircases! The giant fireplace! I also love the part in the beginning of the movie when Belle goes to the town bookseller and sings while swinging around on his rolling ladder. I definitely want a rolling bookshelf ladder to swing on while singing about my poor provincial town.

One thing I really want to do, with either the bookshelf I own now or a bigger one I will probably get from Ikea, is paint the back wall a bright, contrasting color. I love the bright, sunny yellow of these shelves; it's a great way to perk up a room if you're a little gunshy about painting a whole wall. I'm suspicious, though, about how few books these people have. I don't have a problem with a well-placed bust, vase, or photo, but someone who doesn't have enough books to fill nice shelves, doesn't deserve nice shelves.

What a delightfully efficient use of space! Sure, stacking books vertically can be impractical if you decide you want the book on the bottom, but it's also a very eye-catching way of displaying your books.

Speaking of eye-catching... There's no question that if you have loads of books with brightly colored spines, organizing them by hue will look fantastic. I can just imagine every visitor to this home exclaiming with joy when they first see this rainbow wall of books. On the other hand, there's something about using books as home decorations that gives me pause. It's similar to people who get their interior decorator to buy a set of leather bound classics to display, but have no intention of ever reading a word. Did you know at the Strand bookstore you can order books by the foot? Yes, for just $250 a foot, you can get a selection of clothbound books from the Victorian era! It's so tacky; you're not going to convince anyone that you're well read by paying someone to pick out some pretty books for you. My other problem with this photo is: who has that many pink books? You could read nothing but chick lit for a year and still not have that many pink books.

I know, I was just railing against books as decoration. But putting your nicest hardcovers and art books on cute trays, as a sort of coffee table centerpiece? So cute and classy. My coffee table is always covered with receipts and takeout menus, and sometimes people's feet, but if I ever invest in a grown-up coffee table, I'd try to recreate this photo. Also, how awesome is that green chair in the background and the blue walls?

This is a serious, Old Money sort of library. But you can't go wrong with a fireplace (ok, I guess you could if you put your books too close and an errant spark lights them all on fire) and some plush chairs-- I like how none of them match, it gives the room a slightly more casual vibe. Lots of sidetables (you need places to set down your tea!) and reading lamps, plus the lush green scenary out the windows, makes this a home library I'd love to curl up in.


Anonymous said...

I LOVE this entry; I am a total bibliophile and I loved seeing ways to incorporate them into decor. I have had that picture with the book spines arranged by color on my wall for years now -- some day I'm going to recreate that! Oh, and I would love to have Belle's amazing library too :)

Alisha said...

Belle's library seriously brought tremors of joy into my eight-year-old life!

And I LOVE the color-coded shelves. Wow. Will definitely do that when I acquire enough books and a bigger apartment.

T said...

I love Beauty & the Beast and Belle's amazing library!
I like the idea of painting the back wall a bright color. And that Old Money library is so fantastic. said...
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Ana said...

I love your comment about the pink books! It's true, though, how many pink books (novels, even!) get printed every year?