“Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house,” Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman and sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Thomas Jefferson declared that he could not live without books and managed to create three libraries in his lifetime. When the first burned down, he wrote to a friend that he would have been less upset to lose the money he had spent on the books than the items themselves.
Even if you don’t possess an immaculate collection of first editions, books can still be an integral part of the décor of the room. Indeed, the designer Deborah Bowness has created a wallpaper called fake bookshelf, which gives you an idea of the importance of books to a design theme, and she’s not the only one; Young and Battaglia have also made a vintage book wallpaper, which I have used on my son’s bedroom door.
But gone are the days when you just bunged some melamine shelves across an alcove on a metal bracket and watched them gradually buckle under the weight as the years of dust accumulated.
Now the way you store your books is as integral to the décor of your house as the colour of the paint on the walls. You don’t have to have a spare room for a library, you can use the spare space that you probably haven’t even noticed you had. Fixing box shelves up the stairs, light-up shelves on bedroom walls and creating an entire wall of books in odd-shaped shelving patterns will all add to the style and feel of a space.
If you want to make a statement with your storage then look no further than the ideas below and remember, if these are too pricey, it’s always worth using them simply as inspiration and asking your local carpenter to see what he can create for you.
SUM SHELVES BY SCP
0131 557 4800
Part of the SCP Boxed collection, this asymetrical shelving unit will look fabulous in any room. It comes as a set of three with the boxes in different sizes and you can add as many as you like and fit them together in anyway you want. The shelves are made from cherry with brass fixings and were designed by Peter Marigold.
YET BY FOSCARINI
You wouldn’t necessarily house a whole library on one of these but you can buy several and create something rather sculptural on the wall and bizarrely it works as a light as well. Having said that it’s more a display light that a light to actually read the book that it was holding by – that would be spookily symbiotic.
From around £1,628
020 7381 0031
If you like your shelving to be basically simple and sculptural then this is the one for you as there’s just a tiny hint of a twist because the shelves aren’t uniform and can end up looking as if they have been custom made for your books. The clean lines look just as good half empty with a few well chosen objets as they do completely full of books.
0114 243 3000
After the success of his bookworm shelf, Ron Arad went on to produce Lovely Rita, which, apart from its fabulous name, is evocative of a piece of ribbon stretching across the wall. Use just one or combine a series of them across the wall and you can fix it either way up to create a unique piece of shelving.
TWO SNAKES SHELF
Set of two
by La Corbeille
020 7692 4001
Pricey but cool. Made from lacquered MDF, you can see, if you look closely, that there are two of them so you don’t have to arrange them like this. Perfect for narrow spaces – up the stairs or in the hall