Building a Home Library on a Budget

by Greg on May 10, 2019

home library on a budget

It is every book lovers’ dream to own a library that could one day rival the grandiose ones we’ve seen in films adapted from 18th-century romance novels. With floor to ceiling dark wood shelving lined with thousands of books and decorated with tufted leather furniture, the home library was once a dream only few could indulge in. However, in our modern day, home libraries are beginning to grow in popularity and can be built with only a few essential elements.

Choosing the Room
While some homes may offer office space or rooms specifically intended for a library, oftentimes space for your books can be on the scarcer side. The great part about home libraries is that they can be built virtually anywhere, such as an area of your living room that might be unused, the cabinets in your dining room, the walls of the hallway or even in the empty space on the wall that holds your TV. If you truly desire the wall-to-wall, filled with books style, don’t be afraid to use bookcases as you would wallpaper. Lining them up against the walls not only will add dimension to the room, but you’ve also created one great, multipurpose space.
home library
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While the placement of your library should be aesthetically pleasing, it should also be sensible. It is worth keeping in mind that books, especially old or rare ones, are delicate. Books placed in damper areas of the home, such as the attic, could be susceptible to mold, while those placed in areas with lots of light are at risk of being bleached or sun damaged. It is advisable to place your library in an area that receives minimal, or indirect sunlight, and consider looking into suitable window treatments such as insulating or room darkening shades.

What would a library be without books? Once you have chosen the perfect spot for your library, it is time to think about how you want to display your collection. For more valuable books, placing them behind glass would be safest, but typically books will remain secure so long as your shelves and the floors they are placed on are sturdy. The last thing we would want is for anything to bow or give way. For those still dreaming of a library fit for Louis XVI, ornate, dark wood bookcases are always ideal. Wanting your shelving system to be just as showcased as the books placed on them is understandable. Style and function is always the goal and is easily attainable.

Bookshelves of all shapes and sizes can be found so long as you know where to look. First, take a look around your home and see if there isn’t a piece of furniture such as a sideboard or an armoire that might be repurposed for a bookcase. If not, some of the best and most unique pieces of furniture are second hand and come at only a fraction of the price. For those more inclined to DIY, another alternative is running down to your local home improvement store and stocking up on shelving supplies. So long as you can build a shelving system you can rely on, beautiful bookcases can be made for fairly modest prices.

Color and Style
If a more traditional-styled library is preferred, wooden shelves or bookcases are a must–but a good wood veneer is just as elegant for much less. For those looking to add a modern touch to their library, adding a pop of color to their shelving system not only adds a bit of eye-catching fun, but it also works to cover up any imperfections or undesirable aspects an older shelving system might have acquired. For an extra bit of oomph, try a paint color with high-gloss to balance out the room and make it look even sharper.
home library
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It is up to you how you would like to treat your library. Are the books and shelves mostly decorative, pieces of wall art you might occasionally take a deeper look at by flipping through the pages in the next room over? Or is the space meant to be used as a sit-down area you can curl up in once you’ve picked the perfect book? If so, furniture is the next order of business.

Chairs are an essential element and can be found in every style. For a ’60s vintage look, try a Barcelona chair. If your tastes are more French country, hoop back chairs are a great option. If you desire the classic library look of dark leather chairs, Bergere and similarly styled chairs are the archetypal choices. If you can find them at a reasonable price, the leather will provide comfort and long-lasting durability. If not, opt for faux leather chairs or wood chairs. There is no shortage of side chairs and dining room chairs for resale, and because they tend to be older hand-me-downs, many will exhibit ornate backrests should you want the more elaborate style. Bookcases and side tables follow the same guidelines.

Refinishing furniture is a great way to breath new life into pieces. Plus, it’s the perfect way to adapt your library to suit any style. For instance, you can easily convert a rustic hutch into a traditional one by replacing the hardware and taking a bit of gold paint to outline the furniture. By painting the outer surfaces and ornamental grooves, you have created a sleek and refined piece. Or go for a completely opposite look when you sand down or distress furniture.
home library
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Libraries are the perfect addition to any home. Whether you have a sizable house or a smaller scale city walk-up, they can be built anywhere, in any room, of any size. All it takes is placing a sturdy bookshelf in the right corner of your home to create an oasis for you and your books.


Brenda Kimble

Brenda Kimble is a writer and stay-at-home mother of two daughters and a son, plus their beagle named Duke! She is an interior design enthusiast and has 12+ years of industry expertise, later settling down to become a home decor blogger. When she is not working, she also enjoys strolling the streets of her quaint neighborhood in Austin, Texas and finding the trendiest hotspots for fashion, food, and live music.

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