Last week I posted photos of the high rise apartment of a popular, well known Houstonian.   She is an editor and writer, amongst other things, so it made sense that she would own a large amount of books.  Faced with an apartment with no library, she created her own in the guest room.

This was a smart idea and even more ingenious, she designed the shelving units to pop out so that they might be reused in case the new owner didn’t want them.  A few years later, she moved to another apartment in the same complex.  Here, the library was installed in the dining room, where the books became an architectural feature.  


The High Rise Dining Room/Library

In my own house, I was faced with a similar problem.   Both Mr. Slippersocksman and I like to read.  Our collection of books quickly outgrew the built-in bookshelves on our landing, so we moved the extra books to another set of shelves in the guest room.


The bookcase on the stair landing at my house.

When we built our house we thought this would eventually house all the books we could possibly have in our future.  HA!!

Needing more book shelves, we added a large bookcase on the landing across from the built-in.  When we ran out of THAT space, we just stacked books on the floor, all over house.  Not a great solution.

Finally, I made a huge decision, for me.  The 4th bedroom, the old office that was now just an cluttered catch-all, would become a library for me.  All my scattered design books would go in here and Ben’s history and war books would go on the landing.   SURE!!!!


Before the books went in – I had a lovely, calm, gray room – perfect for doing yoga in (as if.)  But when the colorful books starting going on the shelves, I was so disappointed!  Where did my all gray library go to??   Yes, I know how stupid that sounds but it’s the truth.  If it were the least bit practical, I would have turned the bindings around to expose just the cream colored pages, but please – I do use the books for research!  

So…instead, I pulled off all the glossy paper covers hoping this would quiet down the room.  It did, just a bit, but I suppose what I really wanted was a monotoned gray library with antique brown leather books.

After I was all settled into the library, it wasn’t long before the books started piling up, again.  I look at these shelves now and realize I should have pulled a ladder out and taken down all the creamware and replaced it with the extra books.  Ben’s shelves were another story altogether.   He has a habit of buying used books on Amazon for just a few dollars each.  Most are from public libraries.  Suffice it to say he rarely reads a book on the best seller list.  Instead he reads stories of old battles fought around the world.  To each their own I suppose.  His piles of books grew faster than my own.

Eventually we had to reach an agreement which I will write about in a few weeks!

OY.  Just wait – it’s a shocker!

Still, all this talk of libraries and books and photos of dining rooms turned into architectural book havens has me thinking: 

Where would you create a library in your house where there is none?  Where are the most logical places and where are the most ingenious places to display your collection of books?



Our first library is here – in a foyer!  This is actually a vacation home, but still, what a warm and interesting entry with shelves filled with books.  And that desk!!!!  And those fossils!!!   The large art work takes away from the wall of shelves, making the books a backdrop instead of the star.   Most entries are not big enough to house a library, but if yours is – give it a thought.

This entry has a winding staircase where bookcases were inset into the stone walls.   Stairs are a popular place for libraries as I discovered.


This entrance is in a house once owned by actress Diane Keaton.  She combined her foyer with her library – creating a warm, welcoming and very interesting space.


The curved wall follows the curve of the stairs creating a place for a library. 

Joanna Gaines designed this library under these stairs.  The space under the staircases is generally reserved for a short closet.  Here you can see that a small library is perfect for this space.

These narrow stairs created a unique place to display books.  This isn’t for everyone, but if you have a set of stairs leading up to the attic,  this might work for you.


At Patina Farm, Brooke lined the stairs with her collection of gorgeous antique books.

This house is beyond wonderful – a classic, new design by James F. Carter in Birmingham.  The main living space is on the second floor and the architect designed a library around the stair’s landings.

Here is the second floor landing with a view towards the surprisingly large library built into the stairwell.   Notice the window that was included.  While there is a library ladder, it must be just for show -  it is much too short to be useful.

And across the second floor landing are more shelves.  The dining room is through the double doors.    Love this house!


This dining room doubles as a library.  The red shelves with carvings and grills on the doors add much architectural interest to the room.  Additionally the shelves can be taken with the owner when he moves away.

This is my idea of heaven.  A dining room that doubles as a library, accented with a stone fireplace.   What could be better?   Well, if the room was designed by Geoffrey Bennison, that might be better!  

Lord Weidenfeld’s apartment in Chelsea was indeed decorated by Bennison.  Weidenfeld never changed his designs – Bennison’s choices remained as long as Weidenfeld did.  A publisher, Weidenfeld first printed the English translated Lolita in 1959 (my favorite book ever – highly recommend it) and his books are now bequeathed to the Jerusalem National Library of Israel, which is due to reopen in 2021.

Notice the way Bennison hung the artwork.

In this dining room, the walls of books are like a set of arms in a protective hug.  It looks like this room was designed around the work of art and it is a true combination of dining and library.

I love old books with leather bindings.  These books were probably collected like accessories instead of to be read.


A beautiful table that doubles as a desk.  Beautiful shelves.  Beautiful chairs!

The late, great Myra Hoefer designed this library that doubles as a dining room.  OH, I LOVE this!  I loved Hoefer’s aesthetic.  She had wonderful taste and this room shows it.  Notice the antique, classic bookcase juxtaposed against the farmhouse table with simple benches. 


Everyone loved this dining room/living room/library owned by Carolina Irving.  It’s been years since Carolina first designed this but it still looks great.   The apartment was sold quite a while ago when Carolina moved to Paris.  Would she take her books to Paris or just sell them?  Hmmmmm……

Here is Carolina Irving’s library/dining room in Paris.  The answer is, of course, yes.  She boxed up 1000s of books and sent them over the sea to Paris.

I wouldn’t have done that myself.  I can’t imagine the cost and effort to do that.  BUT, it really looks nice and I’m sure this is a working library, one she uses for research when she is writing and designing.


An old photo but still in style today – David Hicks.

This shows a casual way to combine dining rooms and libraries – by piling books on the table instead of filing them away in shelves.

Here in a showhouse, William McLure combined a library on the table in the dining room he designed.

At his former loft – McLure had no library, but instead stacked art and design books around the walls, under his windows.

And more books were stacked on his coffee table, under the watchful eye of his ever amusing dog.


An unusual place for a library is a fancy living room.  But here, Amelia Handegan placed one in this very dressy and classic room.  The books aren’t best sellers nor are they coffee table types with glossy covers.  Instead, the books are all leather bound and mostly antique.

I love the way the shelves are designed to frame the sofa, with the large art work centered over it.

Such a gorgeous room.

In an English farmhouse, where living rooms are not quite as fancy, the messier the better.

  Amanda Brooks.

In a Houston family room by Miles Redd, the more colorful the books, the better.

Bunny Williams in a study/library – a bit more contemporary for the younger set.

Dark walls remain in vogue, especially in cozy sitting rooms and studies.

A Paris living room, for Lee Radziwill.

At first glance, the shelves look symmetric, but they aren’t.  There is a beam behind the left side shelves.  You can see she turned favorite books face out on those short shelves.  One of the books is actually written by Lee.


I like this room – a more casually dressy room with a mix of antiques and books. 

In his Connecticut farmhouse, Oscar de la Renta had a large bedroom, living room, and dining area – all in one.  You can just barely see his canopy bed at the far right of the photo.  Around the room are shelves of books, along with gorgeous molding!

The late great Beverly Field decorated this house – in Dallas.  Oh.  It’s beyond fabulous.  A true testament to her aesthetic.  The mix of a teal velvet sofa with a red Indian print and silk velvet animal print.  The red paint is not lacquered, as it is expected.  Instead – it is matte, which is quieter and warmer.   Genius.  Rest in peace.

European for sure.  I love the dual sofas and the dueling portraits. 

Another dark study lined with books.  The white pops.  By Daniel Romualdez.

Robert Kime.  These might not be built ins which allows the owner to pack the shelves and take them away.  I’m always in favor of built ins, but this story is making me rethink that.

Peter Marino designed this house and it is found in this fabulous book – Out East: 

To order the book, click on the image.

And did you even suspect?   Behind this bookcase is another room.  And in this photo, you can see the pattern painted on the ceiling.  And that bench!  That fabric!

This library is owned Karl Lagerfeld.  His dining room has about half this many books, a huge number at that!  Personally, I prefer books filed upright, not on their side.  But who am I to argue with King Karl?

I have always loved this photo of Nigella Lawson’s study, piled high with books for her research on different topics, including food and cooking.

I’ve loved this image for years.  A chinoiserie double sided bookcase stands as a room divider in the middle of a NYC apartment. 

This library in NYC is located in the solarium.  A long, skinny place with the blue sofa that matches the blue sky.

This is a great idea for a small library that is rarely seen today – put the books in an official book cabinet.  This study is located at the Dumfries House, restored by Prince Charles.


A library in a bedroom?  This is unusual, but in smaller houses with less choices – a bedroom could be a good idea.

This is a beauty with all antiques that match the wood ceiling.  These aren’t books that were read, but rather they are the decorative basis of the room.

A tall ceiling is brought to more human proportions with a wall of book shelves. 

I love this – at Patina Farm.  This was once a child’s room but today it holds extra books.  The room doubles as a guest room and a reading room.   What’s not to love?  It’s Patina Farm!

An alcove bed makes a perfect place to add books.  Here, the late, great Charles Faudree’s country house guest room.

So many of the fabulous designers have left this earth.   So sad to imagine both Faudree and Carithers, the kings of French design, are now gone.

At a country house, this alcove bed is surrounded by book shelves.  It reminds me of summer camp.


Under the eaves in attic rooms are an unusual place for a small or even a large library. 


How about a small closet turned into a small library?

Or like this?

Fancier closet or maybe just an alcove.


Hide a bathroom in the library!!!

Researching this, I saw so many shelves that open up to reveal a hidden room.  

Reminders of early reading of Nancy Drew:

Image result for nancy Drew #2  the hidden staircase

Whenever I see a hidden room behind a door, I think of the Nancy Drew book – The Hidden Staircase.


Now, I can barely remember my pets names, but the number of my favorite Nancy Drew book?   EASY!!

A library in a bathroom?  Obviously a bathtub was dragged into this vast room – but here it is.

Do you have a library in an odd spot? 

Share it with us!!!!