The City Sage: On the Hunt: Library Inspiration

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May 18, 2010


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I have to admit that (in our last place) we converted a closet to house our books. I did it with Elfa from the Container Store ... they worked so well ... and they don't look terrible either!

I wish you luck on this hunt = and yes, I ADORE the Restoration Hardware shelves ... if they're anywhere near your budget, I say YAY to them. Skip the Ikea, I have had those in my past and the shelves do not stand up to the test of time.



In my studio/office I have a couple of tall IKEA Billy bookcases filled to the gills with books. The shelves are not so noticible as the books and a few art items placed on them. Billy bookcases are so neutral in design that they can "disappear" and give the spotlight to other furnishings in your space. The other move defined furnishings in my studio/office space: an antique armoir (for supplies storage), nice looking work table (was a dining table), overstuffed chair, chrystal chandelier, etc. express the character of the room. In my breakfast room, I have an antique china cabinet filled with travel books, interior design books and novels. Get your books out of the garage and up where you can enjoy them. Your bookshelves don't need to be your defining design statement! ;o)

Sarah Klassen

That first library is incredible! What a great concept and such an open, inviting library...Thanks for sharing your favorites.

I hope you're having a wonderful week so far :)



Oh wow! I would love a little library room of my own! How wonderful...


I have six of the largest Billy bookcases from Ikea and they do the job pretty well for not too much cash. I also have a couple of bookshelves I bought at cheap-ish antique stores and one I've had since my childhood but still too many books - I feel your pain!


Nice round up of library spaces, Anne. The third one is my favourite!


gorgeous photos. that purple chair. sigh


Wow. That is exactly my problem! Too many books, not enough space or money or aesthetic sensibility. Those photos are really inspiring. As far as your dilemma, if it's somewhere you're going to live for a long time, I say slowly continue investing in the really good stuff.


I have a folder bulging with magazine photos of library spaces. I am almost ready to embark on a home renovation project and plan on turning my current dining room into a library to hold my ever increasing collection. Thanks for the additional inspiration!


Have to say mine come from ikea. But then I do keep them all in my office. I think that its what you put on them that is important not the beauty of the shelves themselves. If you break up the lines of the books with decorative items, pictures etc they become beautiful anyway. I do like the low shelves having said all that.


The bookshelves I want are far, far out of my budget... so I bought three flatpack units from Target. I have to say- they've held up beautifully. They're a dark finish with subtle woodgrain and a decorative molding, so they don't shout "low budget."

I guess when it comes to bookshelves, I'm willing to settle for placeholder pieces. My books are what makes my apartment my home!


i'm a fan of stacking stacks and stacks of books on the floor along walls and on side chairs (but the hubs loathes that -- it's too "hoarders" for him). how about these invisible/floating bookshelves?

i always think they're fun...

or, since you're in san francisco, maybe hit up my favorite store past perfect (on lombard and on union) and get something vintage? i scooped up the best black-and-white dresser there once... or if you're up for a hunt, the alameda flea market?


Be still my beating heart. That first picture is out of a fantasy.

Tracy F.

Ditto on Joanna's comment!

Erika Peterson

More reason to buy all the books on my Amazon wish list!


What great inspiration! We recently built shelves (and a dining room table!) for our little place out of reclaimed barn board that we found on craigslist. It's very sturdy, inexpensive... and it looks amazing!

Barbara Glatt @ Hampton Hostess

love bookshelves--I'm with you, do them low and modern, perhaps paint the back a bright fun color?


yeah, it's a challenge...i'll show you what i managed with those, um, less attractive bookcases you were talking about. not bad, i think...they end up sort of blending in, which was the goal.


Hmm, I say go to Ikea and get some better quality shelves, like the Hemnes, solid wood and line those up in your living room. They look good (we just got ours, we lined up three of them, and we may add a fourth.)


Love, love, love - crazy love! Cheers.

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