COTE DE TEXAS: Living with Books (lots of them!)

Living with Books (lots of them!)

What to do, what to do????  Amazon is already preselling the Christmas season's design books - and it's a bumper crop, folks.  The covers alone can make you drool and wish that December would hurry up and get here!   These are the ones I've already ordered (some as long ago as April!)



This book, Domestic Art, has me the most excited and you should be thrilled too.  The book's co-author and editor for Paper City, Laurann Claridge, sent me a few stills from the upcoming book and they look delicious!  Thanks Laurann!   Included inside are glimpses of David Lackey's home, Lester Marks, and Dominique de Menil, among others.  Spanning the past decade's worth of home exposes from Paper City, this book will make a perfect Christmas gift and is sure to be THE book on everyone's coffee table this winter.  Look for an October release date,  available here for preorder from Amazon.


Michael Smith, #9 on Cote de Texas Top Ten Designers Series, has a new one coming out - just look at the oriental screen!  Beautiful.  And the blue and white porcelains, and the textiles, the pillows, the chinoiserie tea caddy, and on and on.


And Faudree - #5 on the Top Ten Designers Series is coming out with his fourth book this fall!



Betty Lou Phillips has her 99th book coming out in time for Christmas. 




And Henrietta Spencer-Churchill is releasing HER 99th too!  With a name like that - you can readily tell she is related to the late Princess Diana "Spencer" and Winston Churchill, both.



Washington D.C.'s fabulous Darryl Carter is debuting his first book.


Jeffrey Bilhuber is coming out with his second.


I like the title and cover of this one, of course!   1st Dibs previews it on their web site this week.



domino magazine's long awaited decorating book.  The cover?  Chinoiserie wallpaper - to die for!



Celerie Kemble  has her first book coming out this fall.



David Mlinaric from England, his first, too, is due this holiday season.  This one promises to be a serious book on interior design, his taste level is quite different than that of someone like Celerie Kemble, who has a distinctly fun and youthful sense of style.



And last, another prolific writer, Carolyne Roehm's tome on blue and white decorating sounds wonderful to me!  Thankfully, these are all the new books coming out this fall - and quite enough.  The problem for me is space.  I'm running out of room for all my design books.  They are an unorganized mess.  I long for a beautiful library, dedicated to my books where I can go and sit in a comfortable chair, with a hot cup of coffee, and read, peacefully and in blessed quiet, surrounded by my books.  But, where?

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My main "library" is upstairs on my landing over looking the two story entry hall.   For the first 10 years, it worked great as I filled up it's shelves.  But for the past five years, I've been looking for places to stash my growing library. 



Once I ran out of bookshelf space, I started stacking the books everywhere, telling myself it looked great, like a grand old country house in England, except it wasn't a grand old house, but a new one in the middle of Houston.  Everything was starting to look very cluttered, and not in a pleasing sort of way.  Which led me to buy The Book Spine, or whatever it is called.  Actually, I bought two, which, you can see below, clearly wasn't enough.


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The two book spines.  In between and in front of the book spines are stacks and stacks of books I gathered up from around my house.  HELP!!   My next plan is to get a carpenter to build another bookshelf on the landing right across from the present shelf.  Does anyone need two book spines?


What I REALLY need to do too, is toss out a bunch of old books - books from college (!)  and trashy paperbacks.  I think I could gain a lot of shelf space that way.  And truthfully, I could go through my design books - there are some real stinkers I've bought over the years such as "Faux Painting in Ten Easy Steps" and "Paige Davis - A Year of Trading Spaces" (SO embarrassing!)   I could schlep all those dreaded books up to Half Price Books and dump them there.     I'd have more shelf space, but, I still wouldn't have my library, with the cushy down chairs, and the coffee, and that peaceful, easy feeling.  One thought that I've had for years and years would be to turn my waste of a space living room into a two story library.   This room:



We don't ever use this room, really, except to retrieve mail from the slot in the wall, or to spy outdoors at our neighbors.  Certainly, this room really isn't used for entertaining.  It's sole purpose is to provide a little eye candy when you walk through the front door on your way to the back family room.   My fantasy has been to build bookshelves up to about 2/3 rds of the way on the walls.  Turn it into a true library, a two story library.   Something like this:



Maybe this would be feasible, built in bookcases with beautiful paneling - notice how the shelves don't go all the way to the top.   And I love the library ladder - I'll have one of those too!  Designed by Bunny Williams, this is elegant, interesting and functional.  

Who am I kidding?   I can't even deal with a minor job like restaining my wood floors without having a major anxiety attack.   OK, just for fun,  if I DID have the funds, the willpower, the energy - my living room would turn into this room above.


Besides the gorgeous paneling and the library ladder, I would have Ron from The Empel Collections custom make me a room full of beautiful and functional library lights that would attach to the built in shelves.  A girl can dream, can't she? 

And while I'm dreaming, how about two chairs and an ottoman from George Smith, because let's face it, no one makes a better chair than old George, do they?



This library looks pretty nice too - instead of built-ins, just buy a huge, mahogany bookcase.   You could be pretty comfortable in this library, I'm sure.  I like the desk.   A large desk or center library table would be essential for any functional reading room.



This library, the famous red lacquered one designed by Albert Hadley for Brooke Astor, is considered by many to be the prettiest library ever built for a home.   Presently, this apartment is for sale - this picture shows the red library as it looks today. 



A close up view of Hadley's famous Astor library.   While I certainly appreciate it, it's not my favorite home library.    If I had to choose between the staid elegance of the red library or the cluttered, deliberate chaos of the library below, I'd choose the hodgepodge reading room of Kenneth Jay Lane:



Now, THIS is a reading room.  Lane's huge, New York City library is a warm, inviting, cozy conglomeration of books and paintings, accessories and comfortable seating. 


The large room is divided into smaller seating groups with built-in bookcases on each wall.  Large mirrors further enhance the library's roomy size.   I love this space, to me it's utter perfection!!



Lane's library reminds me of Carolina Irving's New York apartment.  The main difference in the two is Lane has had about 25 years of collecting and accumulating over Irving.  Give her a few decades and Irving's library will rival Lane's.   Though not technically a library, her apartment has wall to wall bookcases which separate the space into different areas for reading, sitting, and eating. 




Half-height bookcases separate the different areas of the large room.  Here, the dining room section is shown in Irving's apartment.

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Another wonderfully cluttered library, where book space is no longer available:  Lynn Von Kersting, #7 on Cote de Texas Top Ten Designers Series.


Hailing from both New York and New Orleans, Julia Reed's NYC apartment has one wall of double height built in bookcases.  The library ladder is a necessary element with bookcases this tall. 


Thank you Stylecourt for the picture!


Most libraries are decidedly masculine rooms with dark wood paneling and leather furniture.     It's very hard to find a true library that looks like it belongs solely to a woman.    Charlotte Moss' library is the rare exception.  There is no doubt that a woman, albeit a very strong, successful and determined woman, runs the show in this library. 


Another Charlotte Moss library, this one is more gender neutral.



This formal Georgian library is filled with antique books.   I love how the mirror reflects the chandelier.  The bookcases are works of art themselves.



The masculine side of libraries.  I love how the bookcases have wired doors.  I'm thinking a fireplace is also essential to the perfect reading room.



This library designed by architect Gil Shafer features casual seagrass matting the brings the dressy tone of the room down  a notch.  Robert Kime fabric covers the comfortable reading chair, positioned just right, by the bookcase.  A flat screen TV furthers the unexpected casualness of an otherwise elegant room.



This red library, designed by Alex Papachristidis, is cozy and inviting despite the dressy book cabinet.



Another red library, lacquered, by Bunny Williams.  Red is a popular color choice for libraries.



Elegant and dressy, and so beautiful.  I love how the clock is layered in front of the bookshelves.  The large desk would be a wonderful place to work on a laptop or write a letter.  Notice the well worn antique rug.




This library, though designed with "dressy" antiques, is made more inviting by the use of the zebra skin and thick, rush matting on the floor.  These tactile elements brings a cozy atmosphere to what could have been a cold and distant space.




Another elegant library.  The doors to these bookshelves are stunning.  I love the large library table - that's something I would incorporate into my "dream" library.  What a great  place to spread out a mass of books!



Wow!  The double height round room, topped by a rotunda ceiling, is the ultimate in a home library.  The fabric choices need to be updated, along with a change of rugs, but the architecture is stunning.



Another two story library.  Notice how the round window motif is repeated in the mirror and in the doors' design.  Again, beautiful space, but awful interior design.  The fabric choices just melt into the wood stain's color, leaving a boring mess in what should be a spectacular space.




Ralph Lauren's library in his New York country home.   Comfortable, cozy, this is a perfect place to sit and read a book, especially by the fire on a cold winter night.  The deep green velvet drapes further the atmosphere of a room used in the cold months.



Notice the thickness of the wood used in these shelves.  It gives the bookcases a strong profile.  Also - thicker wood gives a more contemporary look to shelves.   I think I would have put a desk under the portrait -  the trunk looks too small to me.  



This casual library make great use of the space above the windows by adding built in bookshelves.  Bright and sunny, this is a charming space.



Houstonian Ruth Gay's library is strictly country French.  Her bookcases are behind vintage doors with spectacular antique hardware.  And why not?  She owns Houston's fabulous Chateau Domingue, a shop specializing in antique French building materials.  And yes, I would love a library like this!




This library from Phoebe Howard incorporates beautiful crown molding which sets it apart. The books are also filed by color, a new trend.


  Gerrie Bremermann designed this stunningly beautiful library - mostly decorative, these books are all antiques.



This library located in Belgium is typical of the trendy Belgian look:  unstained cabinets and floors, oversized, slipcovered furniture.  This Belgian look is a major trend alert swiftly overtaking the Swedish craze.



Another charming  Belgian library.  



Located in Colorado, this library is two stories high, with short bookcases lining the walls behind the railing.  A rustic and definitely cozy spot for reading away.



This elegant library was  owned by Greta Garbo, the great, mysterious actress.  A perfect example of how the use of antiques never goes out of style.  This library looks as if it could have been designed this year.  Though formal, this space looks completely feminine.





Another example of the timelessness of great, classic design.  This library belonged to Cecil B. deMille, the  film director.  His portrait stands on the desktop.




This traditional library is owned by the singer Sting and is found in his home in England.  Here the wood is stained dark in contrast to all the lighter stained libraries we've seen before.  I much prefer the darker wood myself.  It's more dramatic and elegant.



Todd Romano designs a contemporary library with a large zebra rug. The butterscotch leather pops against all the dark blue.



Markham Roberts' navy blue library.  Though this library is traditional, he uses the same color scheme as Romano above. 


For this library, the built ins were designed to form an alcove around the sofa.  The prints are a set of Galveston, Texas highlights.  The chandelier designed by Thomas O'Brien is from Circa Lighting.  Stark carpeting adds texture, as do the chairs from Janus et Cie.    The designer?   Moi!  Webb Design.    This high rise space is actually the dining room.  But, we chose to use it as the library, where it would get much more use.  I moved the dining area to an space off the living room.


Living Room Libraries:  So, what do you do when you don't have room for a dedicated library?  Schuyler Samperton added a wall of bookcases to her living area to create her library.  The zebra rug is the perfect touch in this room.



This living area incorporates a tall bookcase to hold overflow books.  Many designers say they like to add a touch of black to every room.  Other designers say the same thing about red!


In this home, a library was created in the hall space behind the living room and family room.  Large, floor to ceiling cases provide lots of space for books.  I love the concrete mantle fireplace wall and floors.  And the wire chair adds a touch of whimsy to the room.  The crystal chandelier contrasts with all the concrete.  All in all a wonderfully designed space.


This beautiful living room by Michael Smith incorporates bookcases in lieu of a dedicated library.



For this living room, John Stefanidis added a large skirted table to hold books.  The upholstered coffee table holds more books.  With the addition of bookcases on either side of the fireplace, this space could easily be turned into a wonderful library!  I love the carpeting here.


Double Duty:  In Alex Papachristidis' living room, a freestanding chinoiserie bookcase holds quite a few books and doubles as a room divider and a large accessory!

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Pam Pierce hides her overflow books behind a linen curtain in her family room.



For a small house near the ocean with no room for a library, space was made for books and magazines next to the fireplace.  The nearby sofa provides the soft reading perch.


Entry Hall Libraries:   Without a dedicated room for books, entry halls make interesting makeshift libraries.    Here in a spacious hall, Markham Roberts added shelves on one wall with a drafting table placed in front to break up the expanse of books.   Striped wallpaper placed on a diagonal is an extremely effective showstopper.




John Stefanidis turns a center entry room into a two story library.  Entry halls make great places to incorporate walk through libraries especially when space is scarce.  Here, bookcases are upstairs and down.



A closer look at Stefanidis' rotunda ceiling in his entry room - library.



Gil Shafer turns this entry hall into a library with the addition of a console/bookcase.  Books warm up a space, making it cozy and inviting.   As a designer, nothing is harder to decorate than a built in bookcase without books.  In those cases, I go to Half Price Books in Houston and buy a box or two of their Books By the Box.  Hardback and new, the boxes cost just $25 and are the best expenditure for a bookless family!!




Another entry way - pass through library space.  Swedish inspired with white washed floors and walls, the chair provides a space to sit and read, though it's not exactly a comfortable seat!



This walk through library next to the entry hall shows how seating can easily be incorporated into a galley space with windowseats built in between the shelves.   This is an effective use of what is usually just dead space.



Designer Anne Coyle takes advantage of the entry hall to create a small  library.    The books become accessories, rather than reading material in this instance.



An entry hall center table is a great place to store extra overflow books.  I should know - I did this for years!




Tom Scheerer uses this large entry hall to hang floating shelves filled with  books.  His ubiquitous Tulip table stands in the center of the room looking rather bare.  I would stack books under it to "ground" it.  Still, an effective marriage of entry and library.


Dining Rooms Libraries:    Dining rooms are often combined with libraries because, let's face it, dining rooms usually remain empty for most of the year.   Here, bookcases surround a banquette in a casual eating space. 


Designer Mimmi O'Connell combines this dining room with a large wall filled with bookcases.  One table serves as a library table, the other is reserved for eating.


On Christmas, someone has a big job to clear off this dining room table to set it!  Designed by Gil Shafer.



A round dining room has bookcases built in between the French doors.  Quite charming!


Another dining room/library combination, designed by Suzanne Kasler, #8 on Cote de Texas Top 10 Designers Series.


A wonderful architecturally significant space used for dining and reading. 


Bunny Williams combined eating with reading in this extremely large dining room.   I'm sure what she attempted here was to bring the very high ceiling down to a more human scale with the oversized bookcase.  Do you think she succeeded here?


To me, this is a perfect example of a dining room/library combination.  Rather than looking just like bookshelves were added to a dining room, it is a true marriage of spaces here.  The table is in perfect scale with the room.  The dark painted room makes it a dramatic space for an evening meal.  It's cozy and warm.  Notice the ceiling treatment - paint was used to give the room a suggestion of roundness.  A great idea!  Who wouldn't want to eat or read in this room?   Keith Irvine is the designer.



Bedroom Libraries:  Bedrooms, especially guest rooms, make good places to add library space when no other such space is available.   Here, Todd Romano combines guest space and library space.  The day bed doubles as a sofa in this toile enveloped room.  The zebra provides just the right punch!


David Easton combined his bedroom with bookshelves in his country home.



Gil Shafer added bookcases into the alcove of this bedroom.



A wall of bookcases provides space for lots of books in this bedroom. 


A finally, in a Houston home, this ultra feminine fantasy library.  An escape off the master bedroom,  the sitting room was turned into the wife's private library.  A French day bed provides a place a to read and rest.  A large gate leg  doubles as the library table.  The desk provides a place to pay bills.  And a window seat was built in between the two closets.  Love it!


If you are like me and have run out of space for your books, look around your house to discover hidden "libraries."   Can you turn your unused dining room into a reading room?   What about a guest room - can you find space in there for books, or how about your own bedroom?   Does your entry lend itself to bookcases or a center table piled high with overflow books?   Or do you have a long hall that you might be able to utilize as a reading area?   What about just moving to a new house with a two story dedicated library with a glorious rotunda ceiling?  A girl can dream, can't she?


  1. Oh Joni! What a wonderful post. This one really tugs at my heart....a room filled with books and cozy seating. Aaahhhh :)

    I love, love, love your sitting room but totally understand about it's lack of use. I know a library would look beautiful in that area. DO IT!!!! :)

  2. Simply terrific post. I am an unabashed bibilophile. We lucky enough to have a small in-home library/office. Nothing dramatic, no multi-story bookcases but a comfortable place for some of my books.

    I love most of the libraries you've featured but Kenneth Jay Lane's space is phenomenal. I want to move in. Seriously. Just place a chaise in the corner for me to sleep on and I'm all set. WOW. You recently feature another room that had artwork hung in odd spots. It just didn't work for me, but look at the artwork in Lane's space. Just perfect.

    BTW, for some reason I can't see all of your pictures. Hmmm. Anyway, I have a question about Ruth Gay's library. Are the walls and ceiling covered in stone or is that a faux finish? I can't imagine the work involved if that ceiling was tiled in stone.

    Again....such a wonderful, thoughtful and well-researched post. Thanks.

    - Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

  3. This post took 2 cups of coffee and was so lovely. Coffee & books - nothing better. This may just spur me on to have some shelves built in my mostly unused dining room. As far as your living room??? Oh, my. It is so very beautiful; but I am of the mind-set to put our rooms to good use. So...should you transform it to that library; we all know it'll be drool-worthy! Thanks, Joni!

  4. Oh you MUST build the 2 story bookcases with fabulous lights!!! I've been inspired by libraries ever since I saw "My Fair Lady"- the Professor Higgins library is every bibliophile's dream! Books add such warmth and you are truly a collector. I think you will be surprised how much you use this room afterwards... plus it looks like you could use the storage;-)! I imagine you curled up with tea/coffee, books laid out, computer at hand working on your posts... and you'll even get to spy on the neighbors at the same time! Good luck with the project and I have a SUPER carpenter if you need a recommendation.

  5. These libraries are all so inspirational - one minute I am convinced I prefer the messy, more contemporary look and the next I am right back loving the classics. These images make me want to move everything and rearrange every last book in my home! A gorgeous post.

  6. What a great post! After many years without a library I finally have a small library/guest room which I am attempting to decorate. I'm amazed at the volume and content of your post. Thanks.
    Marion from Kentucky

  7. I think it's a great idea to clear out a few of those books (PAIGE DAVIS????) -get thee to a used bookstore at once!!!!
    I think you woudnl't need to spend a lot of money to turn your living room into a library -I think it's a great idea actually! Most of the libraries you love look very layered -well -add a layer of bookcases to your living room and call it a day! THen you could leave those upstairs shelves for the trashy paperbacks and fiction books. Turn your living room into a library of design books! Thats just my 2 cents. I'm running out of shelves myself but don't have a whole house to store them in, just a TINY apartment - it's a problem!

  8. Amazing photos, again! What a great variety of styles and moods. And so many good ideas for "making" a library out of existing, little used space. (I just loved the light streaming in through the second floor window in the rustic Colorado library.)

    This was just fabulous.
    Angela P.

  9. Joni... you have outdone yourself! I think this is one of your best ever, but that might be because of my deep love of books. We had the most wonderful library at the house where I grew up. My father had bookshelves built surrounding a huge window. There was a fireplace on the opposite wall. Some of my best memories are sitting in the library reading with a big fire during a day off from school for snow.

  10. Oh, I envy your book collection, I would love to see what gems are in there. I blogged, just this week, about my expanding book collection, not as eloquently as you of course. Ruth Gay's library is to die for, the doors are beautiful. Once again, beautiful post.

  11. Oh Joni, what a wonderful post! We have a library instead of a living room, with bookshelves on either side of the fireplace. My overflow of design books currently reside under the end tables. We also have lots of shelves in the family room, and in a hallway, but still we have overflow... but I guess it is a good problem to have!

  12. What a perfectly inspirational post! It's almost too much to take in at one sitting. I've already seen a sneak peek at the "Domestic Art - Curated Interiors" and think it will be THE book; especially for those of us who are obsessive collectors/arrangers. Your front room is stunning and I can't bear to think that you just walk on through. Definitely turn it into the library. That wall is perfect and all the furniture would work in that new setting. Paint the back wall of the bookcases a nice chocolate brown and the framework to match your woodwork and walls. Everyone dreams of the two-story library and you can do it, lucky woman!

  13. This has to be one of my favorite posts because I'm an avid reader and always have fantasized about having some millwork put in my living room too (which is currently the kids play room) so there is no eye candy for moi. I really think that you should give it some serious thought for you living room it looks like it would be perfect.

    I have to say my favorite pictures were the ones with the light and bright libraries. I love to sit somewhere sunny and bright when I read it's so much easier on the eyes.

  14. Another great and thorough post. Most of our books are still packed up after our Christmas move. We have no built-in shelves in the new house, and we need to figure out how to display and store what we have.

    I love the striped wallpaper installed on the diagonal. That wouldn't have been easy to do, but what a statement!

  15. I've always wanted a dining room/library with of course a library ladder. Some great photo inspiration here, Joni.


  16. Joni, what a post!! I think a record number of pictures. Maybe also in length. Loved the writing, very well thought over mixed with your humor. I see I will never catch up with your private collection of books. Mine are spilling all over. I will need to come up with a good design plan to give them a good and decorative spot. This post will certainly help me in this.
    Ron/The Netherlands

  17. wonderful, wonderful images. and a wall of built-ins would look so great in your living room!

  18. Oh Joni, this post is wonderful. What could be better than morning coffee in the library? Do It!!! Your rarely used Living Room would be perfect and no doubt you could make it a show stopper!!

  19. O.K., now how do you have time to do these posts? I am amazed at how detailed and lovely they are. I just want to have the time to read all of it!

    I adore these photographs. I have more books than I know what to do with. I need a real library!

    I did just get the same computer program that Martha Stewart uses to keep up with her books. It's called Collector, I think.

    Your post are GREAT. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  20. Wow.... wow..... wow!!
    Sooooo much to cover!!

    I'm so excited that there are so many great books coming out this fall/Christmas! LOL - Betty Lou with her 99th book!! ;-) That one made me chuckle a little. She's a very sweet lady, though. And I can't wait for the Celerie Kemble book - I've been a fan for many years.

    First of all, I love your little library alcove at the top of the stairs, but see your need for more space. I'd sell of the ones I didn't really like to the used bookstore.
    I also really love your living room, but think it would be even more beautiful with the bookcases you're talking about. Couldn't you just run to IKEA to buy a few???? Ha ha ha - just kidding! Seriously, though, putting in the tall bookshelves would be amazing. Next project??

    I loved all your photos of the libraries,and all the different rooms you could house a library in! So many different styles! There are so many I love!! It seems like there is something to inspire anyone with any type of taste.

    Wonderful post! Where do you find the time!?!?

  21. I love books and love the idea of a home library with wall to wall bookshelves, cozy seating area and of course, a fireplace!

    Beautiful post!

  22. Please don't post anything new for at least a week! It will take me that long to properly study all these glorious photos!

    I, too, had your problem of over-flowing books, so a couple of years ago took the plunge and converted a room into a library. Large shelves, big cushy chair, great paintings, it's a favorite place for all of us - dogs included. But, my dining room is also a library with a bookshelf all along the ceiling. I adore that as well. I did go through them in an attempt to cull some out for the give-away pile. I only came up with two. I find it hard to part with books!

    Of the photos here, I'm in love with the Kenneth Jay Lane and the Lynn Von Kersting well as the Georgian and the fabulous David Easton bedroom!

    As for your library... your living room is glorious, but if you truly never use it, it would be a perfectly sublime library. I am a real believer in using, and loving, all the rooms in the house.

    Thanks for a wonderful tutorial!

  23. Stunning as always. I'm trying not to eye the haphazard piles of books here in my office. The other day there was a bookslide...I am longing for built in shelves everywhere.

  24. If I ever win the Lotto, Joni, I'm buying the Brooke Astor apartment for us to share as our New York pied-a-terre.

    P.S. Holly Moore sent you stills? SHARE.

  25. Gracious! This is another amazing post, Joni. You must have files and files and files of awesome resources. We have bookshelves everywhere. Our library (family room) is dark and cozy. In some of those beautiful rooms are the books ever read? The books are all too perfect and color coordinated. I much prefer the libraries that look used and loved.

  26. Do it, do it, do it! You can still keep alot of the fab eye candy AND have a book room. My cruddy little house had these nasty built-ins, deep cupboards with doors at ceiling height that go the length of the room. Rip 'em out, said the naysayers. But I saw gold! Deep shelves for big books! I took off the doors, painted them out, dolled them up, and boy oh boy I love it (a little photo is on my blog). The room was meant to be the dining room/my office. But really we have too few dinner parties, so now it's mine all mine! I set up a caterer's table, a 60 inch round in the dance parlor for a formal dinner, otherwise, we eat in our huge kitchen (where everyone always wants to be anyway).
    So do it Joni! It's good to have a project. And oh yeah, I looked into those cool ladders that run along the rail - several thousand dollars mama. I like the photo you showed with the old wood folding ladder leaned against the bookcase. I just drag out the aluminum folding ladder, though I have toyed with the idea of painting it a jazzy color. Sick, we decor folks, are sick...AND I love the long postings and the zillions of photos!!!! You're the best!

  27. Oh, your living room is beautiful, but if you aren't using it for "living" then make it a library/living room. You have already started the transformation, it's just whirling around, creative juice, ummmmm fun!
    I have books everywhere too, but magazines, what about magazines !!?? I just can't throw them out. Even when I try to tear stuff out, I know in 6 months I will see something else that I missed. Is this a disorder - compulsive, obsessive book/ magazine disorder ?
    Fab post thanks!

  28. Joni, I glean more inspiration/motivation from your postings than from any other resource. Thank you. Ah, libraries....filled with the wisdom and beauty of the ages. ***I have finally resorted to prominantly placing overflow between the spindles of my entry hall stairway! The first thing a visitor sees is an array of this homeowner's obsessions: the smiling face of the Dalai Lama, the cool elegance of Jacqueline Kennedy, the design genius of Mario Buatta, the heritage of Colonial Williamsburg gardens, the intellect of Thomas Jefferson, the sacredness of our planet's endangered species. It sets a tone. There may be chaos, blight, crime, political madness and intolerance beyond my front door, but inside, there are books and a reader to welcome you.

  29. Oh, I LOVE that Lane library. That is truly one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever, ever seen. I will go back to this post again and again. And I think that Gil Shaefer entryway is just perfect perfect perfect. Thank you so much for this absolutely wonderful post. I can't say enough. LOVE that Lane library. I caould sit there all day. I'd eat in there, read, sleep, entertain, etc...

  30. ANON about Kenny Lane's library. It's on the New York Social Diary - email me and I can give you the link
    to see the entire apartment!


  31. Sharon - What a wonderful idea! I've never thought of that. Thanks for sharing!!!


  32. Loved this post! So many great ideas...

  33. so many different ideas and such lovely rooms. it's a nagging reminder that i need to get on the redecorate wagon. i started but couldn't continue. so exhausting. finding granite people and woodfloor people taxed me beyond reason. and i am trying to live in the house too.

  34. I'm feeling terribly guilty(with pleasure that is)!!! With your copious presentation on libraries and books....I'm certain it can not be free!!! I have started a Cote de Texas "Book" club. Tonight is the first meeting....with seafood and white wine. We will be discussing this amazing post and past posts as well. Design is our biz and pleasure......thank you for your inspiration. Ginny

  35. Another wonderful post, and your living room is so beautiful, love it. Girl, you have an amazing collection of books, im jealous!

  36. Thanks Ginny that's too funny!!!! Have a glass of wine for moi!!!


  37. Oh, so much to look at in this post, I read it then just looked through the pictures. I can see why this masterpiece took so long!

    Amazon may be pushing their new electronic reader, but there is truly no substitute for the beauty of a library and the feeling of a substantial book in one's hand.

    My favorites are the Julia Reed NYC apartment, and Bunny Williams' room with the pediment door surrounded by books.

    I lived in a home growing up (for a few years) that had the most beautiful library...I am sure my parents bought it just for the library. It was contemporary, split level, and the living room was 2 1/2 height with floor to ceiling built in bookcases on either side of the fireplace. Literally 25 feet bookcases on either side! My father is a big reader, an academic, and believe it or not the bookcases were entirely filled. There were ladders on either side, which must have been so dangerous with young children, but I do not recall climbing up them. They must have been off limits. I wish I had a picture of that room!

  38. oy, this is making me crazy!!! i have to really restrain when it comes to books. i have ZERO room for book stacking and overflow as it is. i love that shot of your hallway with the towers of wayward books.

    also-love your formal sitting room. i miss a home with formal rooms like that

  39. I'm giggling to myself, just happy that hubby can't see these photos! He's such a book freak, the smellier the better for him, I always say! I find shelves, he fills them up. He's sold collections a couple times and STILL has tons of books. BUT, you've inspired me to get to my boys' bedroom and revamp their bookshelf. Wonderful ideas for books!! Thanks for putting that all together! Karen

  40. I think the merged library/sitting room is a terrific look, and then you wouldn't have to sacrifice your sitting area, but would use it. It also seems to me, maybe incorrectly, that your sitting room is a perfect candidate for a two story library wall with balcony(or ladder, but does anyone really use them for art books?) I think the thing that looks so impressive about these rooms is the fine architectural detailing and cornices that the shelves provide, much as a fireplace in a northern house. This is going to be one of my favorite posts.

  41. Incredible post, Joni! I don't know which library I like best. They're all amazing!

  42. What a wonderful post! This was almost a book in itself, and one that I'd buy immediately!

    I'd never seen the Garbo room--I'm dying of curiosity to find out where you located the photograph and, more importantly, if it's of her New York apartment that Billy Baldwin worked on.

    I can't wait to see what you decide to do. Thanks again for the wonderful compilation of photographs.

  43. Someone left a comment about how to store magazines. The stylecourt blogspot did a wonderful post about that not too long ago-- different ways to organize magazines and tearsheets. Thanks for an inspirational post!

  44. Hi Joni
    Darryl Carter's and of course Michael S Smith's new books are at the top of my list!! Go for it, redo your living room into a library, that way the room will be used and you will make it look smashing.

  45. You have outdone yourself once again! As a fellow book lover, I was in heaven looking at all these fabulous libraries. Thank you!! Your posts make my day.

    Amy (Houston, TX)

  46. yeah yeah yeah yeah!!!! in the most sing-songy voice you can manage... we're in The Woodlands house hunting and I've been thinking about where to put a "library"! PERFECT posting!!! It's beautiful here!!! ... and that shop is fantastic!!!!! Thanks for the heads up!

  47. Joni, do tell - WHAT shop in The Woodlands? Some of us stalkers, oops, bloggers live closer to it than (in)side the loop. I bet you are getting close to building out your library. Sounds like it's unanimous...

  48. Those are such nice libraries and great books. I am just astounded by the grandiosity of the 'The double height round room, topped by a rotunda ceiling library' you featured. Oh maybe someday!

    This is such a great post.

  49. I have to thank you for this amazing compilation-I am just getting ready to break ground for my office/dining room/sample book library and your post has provided me with so much inspiration! I had been collecting library images for the past year and a half and now you've put me over the top with one post! ...As a soft furnishings workroom to homeowners and the trade I need tons of space for sample books and design books and it needs to look great...your post will pretty much ensure that! I'll do befores and Rachael

  50. DO IT! You must must must transform your living room. It will most certainly evolve into an even more beautiful space and without a doubt it will become more useful. What a winning combo, beauty and function all in one... this is a project too good to pass up! Please, we'd all love to watch the process and final result. :-)

  51. HI Joni
    What a fabulous post! As always, thanks for the inspiration – can hardly wait for some of the new book releases myself. Oh and by the way, you have a wonderful library yourself!

  52. I have the same problem with books. They are everywhere and I keep buying more!! I love the Kenneth Jay Lane library. It is fabulous. I also like the Carolina Irving library. Decorating books get old quickly. I am constantly pruning. Your formal living room is beautiful but I think it would better serve as a library.

  53. Hey!! Above poster....I know that place!!

    Geez, Joni...Another spectac post...are you even human???

    Ok...We LOVE books, and I have been dying to do built in's in our little library. But you...YOU are way more desrving! You have some serious books, Sis!!

  54. Oh, Joni! What a class act you are with the post on books and libraries. My favorites are the zebra draped ottoman and the freestanding double sided bookcase. When recently asked what my greatest weakness was ~ in a heartbeat I responded "books and bookstores". This post was just pure heaven in photos. You have no superiors when it comes to the design blog with the best in photography and captions!

  55. I've always been a sucker for beige and white buffalo check. I have ten yards of it just sitting there and I think now is the time to use it, then have a floor to ceiling bookcase installed. Ha.

  56. Joni, I'm so happy with the image chosen for Smith's latest book, and the inside is great too!

  57. I LOVE this post, I can't wait to put the children down tonight and really look through each picture and writing. Those books from amazon look fantastic, I better get my credit card ready!

  58. I LOVE this post, I can't wait to put the children down tonight and really look through each picture and writing. Those books from amazon look fantastic, I better get my credit card ready!

  59. I love books, I love libraries. I grew up surrounded by books (my Mom had aver 800 cook books - and that was just the kitchen - books everywhere, she was a fabulous cook too) I keep most of my library in the living room although I love books in the dining room, but mine is too small. You must convert your spying room, but you may need to exchange some of those chairs for the George Smith's. This is your best post ever, it is full of ideas, I will return to it again and again.
    Have you ever seen the Vienna Library? I almost cried.

  60. OMGosh! Do I head for the beach or STUDY this magnificent post?! I'll do both. Be back soon. PS...Love the zebra draped ottoman!

  61. JONI!!!!! How do you manage ?!?!? I think I will just print out your book list and shove it into my husband's hand and say "here....this is my Christmas list." I love that you have included so many styles of libraries. People may not think about all of the wonderful ways one can have a book room....and there are so many fantastic examples here!

    I especially like the Lane's library, but also love the Steven Shubel and Woody Biggs little beachy library. Maybe I just need two houses. But they are both so cozy and inviting.

    Another beautiful post Joni!

  62. Joni, Before I forget, the Library at Ralph Lauren's Bedford home is my favorite. I have a very dog-earred copy of the Architectural Digest with the house. The Library and the dining room are so great.

    I really, strangely like the blue modern library, and that suprises me.

    I do feel Bunny succeeded in the library/dining room a) because I have a library dining room and b) because the wood ceiling, the chandeliers are great, but I love love love a dining room table with lamps on it. (Patricia Gray has a great one, remember?)

    As for yours, I think you could transform the front room easily and still keep a lot of what you have. The height of that room could easily serve as a library with ladder. I don't believe in not using rooms. I think every room should be lived in, especially a living room. Why not make it over into something you would use, and still have it be eye candy. You could even move a desk in there.

    Do you have room over your garage where you could add a library? That's another idea.

    As usual, great posts. I love reading your posts first thing on Sunday mornings, where I can grab the laptop, my cup of strong coffee and see what you have put together for us. I'm also a big re-reader.

  63. Joni, just as everyone has said, you're effort put into these remarkable and memorable posts deserves a standing ovation. Another Bibliophile here. With the rate I spend my money on books I'll never finish my house. Your library examples were phenomenal. My favourites were definately Pam Pierce (I'm modelling my family room from that exact room), Ruth Gay (another breathtaking room) and of course YOURS! Your library design is stunning! I love sofas in alcoves surrounded by books.

    I too agree your formal living room should include a library. I'm sure you will feel immense pleasure curled up amongst those gorgeous surroundings with your beloved books.

    Anna :)

  64. Wow, Joni, what a cool post! I love books. I saw a t-shirt once that I wish I owned. It said: "If you are a nice person, you will not sell me another book." My husband would have me wear that every day!

    I love Georgian architecture and design, so I promptly went to Amazon and preordered the Henrietta Spencer Churchill book. Amazon popped right up with a "people who ordered this book also ordered..." and it showed all the other books you'd featured. I thought that was amusing.

    I thoroughly enjoyed all of the library pictures you shared. You can definitely tell, though, which libraries belong to readers and which to mere acquirers of books. If you ever get a chance to come to Dallas and tour Harlan Crow's personal library, jump at the opportunity. It is incredible.

  65. WOW you have a lot of books!! I love to read....I'm jealous that you have so many books- I don't have the storage space in an apartment! I can only keep the few I really love. You should build your dream library some day- it would look fabulous I just know it!

  66. Joni, as we discussed, Patricia Gray's beautiful English Mahogany dining table, and three different chairs, Her Shield Back Georgian chair, what looks to be a Hepplewhite and her Bergere chair. The lucite lamp is on top of the gleaming mahogany table. (note it pushed up to the mirrored wall) This is what I was talking about, and could be either dining or reading area. It's one of my favorites!

  67. This is the most gorgeous post ever.

  68. A fantastic post! I will be putting these books on my Christmas wish list...I cannot wait for some of them to come out.

  69. I don't know where to start!
    A. What an enviable book collection you have!
    B. You've read my mind...I'm dreaming of a library (next place, maybe)
    C. Best post ever!!

  70. Yum. Yum, yum, yummy, yum yum!

    Thank you for this wonderfully indulgent post on libraries. Very inspirational :-)

  71. Joni, darling, I don't know how you do it. I have just read this and the Swedish post and they are both amazing. I may stop scanning photos and steal everything from you - you have it all! Thanks, again, these are hard work.

  72. Okay - now you have me foaming at the mouth. I love books and although we do not have a library, we do have many many bookshelves in our home. There is just something about the written word in my hands that cannot e replaced by a computer!

  73. Can you hear my deep dreamy sigh?

    I love Ruth Gay's library. Your own from room is truly beautiful.

  74. Joni, WOW, I just got done re-reading this post for the second time! Thanks for the peek into your beautiful sitting room. I too love Ruth Gay's the use of the vintage glass doors. I also love tuning in to see what Halcyon has to say, love his knowledge and wit and the wonderful inside tips he has!!

  75. I, too, had your problem of over-flowing books, so a couple of years ago took the plunge and converted a room into a library. Large shelves, big cushy chair, great paintings, it's a favorite place for all of us - dogs included. But, my dining room is also a library with a bookshelf all along the ceiling. I adore that as well. I did go through them in an attempt to cull some out for the give-away pile. I only came up with two. I find it hard to part with books!

  76. Fantastic post! I love your 2-story living room, and Ralph Lauren's NY Country home library has to be my favorite, followed closely by the Belgian library with red wing-back and primitive table. Amazing taste you have! Part of me wishes I were still in Texas to be able to bug you for ideas! LOL! Beautiful, amazing blog post.

  77. Gorgeous, just gorgeous! Oh please won't you write a book?

  78. soooo soooo beautiful, there is sooo much to see and look at!!! EYE CANDY! love your blog!

  79. I randomly happened upon your blog recently & love, love, love the design inspiration! As a long-time lover of books but a hopeless design newbie amateur, I particularly enjoyed this entry. The library photos are especially lovely.

  80. Sigh, I'm left speechless

    Thank you so much for all of your prayers and your love notes to me and my family....I am slowly eking my way back to some of my favorite things like staying connected to all of my wonderful friends here in the blogging world. God bless you all for being so faithful.xoxoxoxo

  81. Loved this! I have books all over the house. They inform and comfort me, spines read like totems, remembrance and friendship. I've always been a reader and as I have gotten older, I have many interests in addition to reading novels and history and these collections are always growing. I love the idea of bookcases in every room. Like you, I love stacks of books under tables, under lamps to make them taller, as props for table scenes. They add warmth and personality. In "Living with Books" a New York reader and non-cook even stores books in her oven!

  82. I guess that being the second largest state of the nation, both territorrially and population-wise, Texas has a lot of potential in this matter as well.

  83. Beautiful post - thank you for sharing.

  84. Hello,

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