Do your bookshelves house historical fiction, celebrity biographies, and fashion magazines? Or perhaps your shelves are lined with vegetarian cookbooks, vinyl records, and Nobel prize-winning literature? 

“The books on one’s shelves provide great insight into someone’s personality––their interests, hobbies, and academic pursuits,'' says Debby Katz, owner of Debby Katz Interiors, a residential design firm in Fairfield County, Connecticut with clients spanning the tri-state area.

“A home library can be a special spot in a home that is uniquely theirs,” says Katz. “Often clients tell me it’s a space they can design and decorate on their own, free from the pressure to collaborate or compromise with their spouse.” 

“Having that special place to retreat to, that reflects the things you love, with books, photos, and colors that speak to you can feel like a personal oasis that helps you recharge and relax.”

To help Shelfology readers style a home library that feels unique and personal, we tapped the expertise of two talented interior designers: Debby Katz and Dominique Michelle Vidal, a residential and commercial interior designer based in New York for creative shelving, seating, lighting, and decor ideas for different personalities. Can you find yours?

Express Your Personality With a Themed Home Library
Express Your Personality With a Themed Home Library (15 min. Read)

 

The Art Enthusiast

The Art Enthusiast: Tromso Floating Shelf + Maggie Bookends
The Art Enthusiast: Tromso Floating Shelf + Maggie Bookends

 

“A home library is an amazing opportunity for an art lover to display some of their collections, including their books about art.”

“Many art lovers will have more than a few favorite pieces to collect, making a gallery wall an ideal way to display favorite pieces.  “[Art] can be displayed on floating shelves to make it easy to swap pieces alongside other books and objects, hung on a wall, or displayed on bookshelves alongside other books and objects.”

Keep in mind that art framed behind glass doesn’t always show well near windows, because of the reflective nature of glass,” explains Katz. “If there’s a lot of sunlight in the room, be sure to get museum-quality glass and window blinds or drapes to help shield art from sunlight which can damage the art.”

Seating: Select seating in a color that coordinates with your color palette or a feature piece of art.

Lighting: “Choose directional lighting like tiny track lights that you can point toward floating bookshelves and warm lighting for table lamps.”

Room decor: “Display backstage photos, band posters, and signed portraits of your favorite artists on the wall.”  

Bookshelves: Choose a floating bookshelf color or hardwood that matches or contrasts your decor. 

The Music Lover

The Music Lover: Aksel Floating Shelf + Black Sabbath + Louis Armstrong + Daft Punk. RAD.
The Music Lover: Aksel Floating Shelf + Black Sabbath + Louis Armstrong + Daft Punk. RAD.

 

If music is your passion, you derive great pleasure and inspiration from listening to and recording your favorite tunes––whether your preferred music genre is country, hip hop, rock, or jazz. Perhaps you play an instrument and compose song lyrics and musical arrangements as well. Whether you’re an avid fan or have a Grammy on your fireplace mantel, you’ll find that a home library provides an authentic environment to showcase your love of music through design.

“Music lovers will likely have their collection of vinyl records,” says Vidal. “They can display album covers on floating shelves and transition them out for a rotating display; a vintage keyboard makes a cool display item.”

Seating: “A vintage leather chaise or a pair of club chairs creates a [serene space] to relax and read.”

Lighting: “Choose directional lighting like tiny track lights that you can point toward floating bookshelves and warm lighting for table lamps.”

Room decor: “Display backstage photos, band posters, and signed portraits of your favorite artists on the wall or a shelf.”  For an accent wall, consider temporary music-themed wallpaper like notes or records.

Bookshelves: A vintage keyboard makes a cool display item for a floating bookshelf, says Vidal. 

The Old Hollywood Film Buff

Are you a fan of old Hollywood? Then you’ll likely want more than books in your home library. Think movie posters, a casting couch, vintage photos, and a lot of black-and-white elements. You can add some glitz [and glam] with shiny objects, and of course, movie posters like Gone With the Wind or a colorful Alfred Hitchcock movie poster collection for your walls. Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, and Humphrey Bogart are a handful of other movie star posters you can find online.

Seating: Vidal recommends a big and comfortable leather chair, club chairs, or a neutral sofa with gold stitching to up the glam factor.

Lighting: Choose a Hollywood spotlight on a tripod floor lamp to shine a light on your floating bookshelves. 

Room decor: Get things rolling with a vintage movie reel wall sculpture. When it’s time to buckle down and get to work, consider a glass and metal desk on an X frame, says Vidal.

Bookshelves: For your bookshelf display, opt for vintage cameras and cinema equipment. You can also find oversized movie coffee table books to display on shelves, and Hollywood classics in many genres including horror, suspense, biographies, and film criticism such as Psycho, Hollywood Babylon, and Forbidden Hollywood.

The Scholar

The Scholar: Tromso RADius Floating Shelf, Aksel RADius Floating Shelf, Mosey Magnet Board, + Maggie Bookends
The Scholar: Tromso RADius Floating Shelf, Aksel RADius Floating Shelf, Mosey Magnet Board, + Maggie Bookends

 

Scholarly academics use home libraries for extensive reading, writing dissertations, preparing lectures and exams, and meeting with colleagues. In this dedicated and often grand space, you’ll find a large desk, office chair, walls of books, and diplomas of achievements.

Seating: Vidal recommends big leather swivel chairs with metal bead lining for an academic’s home library. “You’re at your desk and you might have to switch over and do some writing or turn around and grab a book to reference something.”

Lighting: No scholar should be without a classic bank desk lamp. These table lamps come in an antique brass finish or with a green glass shade and brass base. For ambient light, install overhead lighting on a dimmer so you vary the level of brightness.

Room decor: Vidal recommends a large desk with several drawers for storage which likely includes papers and books. If the office has a good amount of natural light, Vidal suggests using dark, rich leather with a maroon and forest green color palette. 

Bookshelves: For a traditional academic library, “choose a dark wood like mahogany floating bookshelves,” says Vidal. “You can also display photographs of meaningful events on your shelves, and an old style quill ink pen on a shelf or your desk.” 

The Hipster

The Hipster: Tromso FM1 Floating Shelf + Book Wedgie
The Hipster: Tromso FM1 Floating Shelf + Book Wedgie

 

If you’re a hipster, you likely buy organic produce at a farmer’s market, enjoy craft beer, vinyl records, and artisan pottery, and drink freshly brewed tea out of mason jars and smoothies from a science beaker. You raise an eyebrow to anything mainstream and dig vintage and mid-century modern design.

Seating: Choose an iconic chair like the Wassily Chair designed during the Bauhaus era or an Eames Lounge and Ottoman to stretch your legs. “Next to your chair, consider a magazine holder table” for your indie print magazine subscriptions. 

Lighting: “A large tubelike floor lamp is aesthetically pleasing,” says Vidal. It’s also popular with the hipster community.

Room decor: For your home library, consider a “mid-century modern geometric desk in a walnut finish,” says Vidal. Even better if it’s an original you bought at an antique store. Plants are also essential in a hipster home library. Hang succulents from the ceiling in macramé plant hangers and put a palm tree in a corner.

Bookshelves: “For bookshelves, I’d go with a light wood like a white oak, or opt for floating shelves in a pop of color such as blue or red,” says Vidal. You can display local art, sculptures, or one of your favorite reads on a book wedgie. Wedgies, available in concrete or wood and metal, also make an eye-catching statement on a side table, and you’ll always be able to find the page where you left off.

The Beach Bum

Whether you’re a diehard surfer, live for sun, sand, and shore, or just find coastal decor playful and relaxing, a beach-themed home library looks beautiful in a year-round or snowbird home. Keep everything crisp with soft and light colors and natural fabrics and materials for your beach-themed space. 

Seating: “High-quality X-frame beach chairs with striped blue or pastel pink cushions look great in this setting. For more space, consider “a big comfy couch in a natural fabric like linen, canvas, or a weathered material. For a reading nook, build a window bench with a cushion covered in a beach-themed fabric.

Lighting: “Consider a cool floor lamp that looks like a beach umbrella,” says Vidal.

Room decor: Surfers can display their boards on a wall vertically or horizontally using a surfboard wall rack.

Bookshelves: Select a light natural wood that looks like reclaimed beach wood or blue floating bookshelves, recommends Vidal. Display a conch shell among other seashells on a floating shelf. A glass jar filled with sea glass illuminated by fairy lights looks great on a shelf after dark.

The Sports Junkie

The best place for a sports lover is in a stadium or in front of a large-screen TV with a good view of the game. Unless, of course, they’re a player, which means they’re on the field. Most sports enthusiasts collect memorabilia over time, have a subscription to Sports Illustrated, and enjoy reading sports biographies of their favorite players.

Seating: Buy a comfortable reclining sofa or a separate recliner to watch the game play-by-play.

Lighting: LED lighting strips and puck lights are a great way to showcase your favorite sports memorabilia.

Room decor: Keep warm with a sports blanket of your favorite team and hang posters of the players in action. Other wall decor items to show your love for the game include flags and pennants, and sports mirrors.

Bookshelves: Display an autographed baseball on a stand with a downlight that highlights your prized possession. Choose a floating bookshelf color to match your favorite team’s colors.

A home library that features all the books, keepsakes, and decor that reflect your personality is a special place in your home where you can escape, relax and dream. It’s a refuge to return to at the end of the day where you can immerse yourself in all the things you love.

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