Expert Advice

Top 10 Beautiful Bookshelves

Another ROUNDUP for you today. This particular theme is close to our hearts – beautiful bookshelves!

We’ve pulled together 10 of the most beautifully ordered bookshelves and expansive home libraries from our archives for your viewing (and pinning!) pleasure.


Lucy Feagins

Some of Susannah and Phillip’s many collections, on the bookshelf in the dining Room. ‘Chook painting by Joanna Braithwaite, ‘Picking Grapes at Loxton North’ by Ian Abdulla and ‘Houses’ by Nick Howson. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bookshelf and Dining Room. Paintings ‘Chook’ by Joanna Braithwaite, ‘Picking Grapes at Loxton North’ by Ian Abdulla and ‘Houses’ by Nick Howson. Chairs are no.19 bentwood chairs from Thonet. Table is Saarinen Tulip Table. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The impressive reference library at architect John Wardle‘s Collingwood studio. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Slimline mid-century inspired shelving in the Cairns home of architect/builder Jesse Bennett and Anne-Marie Campagnolo, an interior designer. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

The renovation of a small Victorian Terrace house in Prahran. The clients initially approached studiofour architects to redevelop the upper level of their Victorian Terrace house, but the Melbourne-based firm saw potential to increase the flow for the whole house. Photo – Shannon McGarth.

The Northcote belongs of artist, curator and author Tai Snaith and Simon Knott of BKK architects ‘The bookshelves are a major part of our home – we love books and have a lot of them,’ tells Tai. Her library is also dotted with artworks traded with fellow artists. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The first-floor library inside Corbett and Yueji Lyon’s Lyon Housemuseum in Kew. Artwork (to left) Janenne Eaton’s ‘Sing the Sallors,’ 1990. Photo – Eve Wilson, Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A bright and full book shelf taking centre stage in the dining room. Penny round cushions by Castle. Photo – Caitlin Millsfor The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Inside the Collingwood shopfront-turned-sharehouse of Camille Moir Smith, Layla Cluer, Phoebe Ryan and Ru the pooch. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The study was built by Camille’s uncle, Kim Moir, with a vast bookshelf wall. Books belong to all members of the house. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Ad-hoc shelving in the stairwell of Poppy Lane and Scott Gibson – a great use otherwise wasted space. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The Balaclava home of Melbourne artists Meredith Turnbull and Ross Coulter. The bookshelves are shared between volumes and an array of art pieces. Photo – Sean Fennessy, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

An accumulation of books is something to be proud of. That must be why so many of us collect books (and magazines) and refuse to part with them, even if we never intend to revisit their pages again. There are few things we hold on to indefinitely with such fervour.

But a lifetime’s worth of reading material requires a serious storage solution. The good news is, done right, a well-loved home library is the perfect addition to any interior – an endlessly versatile backdrop lending colour, detail and authentic personality to a room.

In the case of Lee Mathews (whose stunning lofty warehouse apartment we shot so long ago I am not even sure if she lives there anymore!) – the bookshelves MAKE the space. These impossibly expansive shelves provide the perfect backdrop to an interior filled with industrial furniture, vintage collectibles and eclectic details.

Of course, bookshelves can be used for much more than just books. Artist Tai Snaith curates her dark timber pigeonhole shelves with museum-like precision, whilst architect Susannah Lempriere hangs paintings even on the front of her shelves, maximising every inch of wall space in her tiny home.

There are endless opportunities to incorporate clever shelving into contemporary interiors, and you don’t necessarily need an entire wall at your disposal. Hallways and stairwells can present the perfect opportunity for ad-hoc shelving (as seen in the Eltham home of Poppy Lane and Scott Gibson) whilst bookshelves built around windows and doors invariably become the talking point of a room.

Floating shelves are popular for their weightless appearance (like the ones in my old house in Brunswick!) – though, truth be told, without structural uprights, they’re not the strongest option.

Seamless integrated shelving is the sleekest way to house a large library. We love the in-built cabinetry at the Lyon Housemuseum in Kew, with a custom library ladder for easy access – Adult-life goals right there!

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