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!