How to Create a Home Library with Custom Furniture Pieces

For many, having a home library is the realization of a lifelong dream. For others, it’s a way to finally get your books and Blu-rays out of the boxes in your attic and out where you can see them. Your home library is a great place to read, obviously, but also for your kids to study or do their homework, for you to pay bills and answer emails, and for everyone to go get some peace and quiet.

Is creating a home library as simple as buying a bookcase? It can be. It really comes down to usage. If all you have is ten books, and you haven’t read one in ten years, then yes, a small bookcase in the corner of your living room is probably all you need. But if you’re a reader, taking in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, or even opera librettos on a regular basis, you’ll probably want to go a little farther than that. A library’s more than just storage—it’s a living space and a respite, a place to be around your books, and away from your TV. To create a home library you’ll use and enjoy, consider custom furniture that enables you to use your library, not just to have one.


Holder Bookcase for home library

A brightly lit library with a Holder bookcase is a comfortable, classy place to read or write.

Everything You Need to Create a Home Library

What makes a room a library? Surprisingly few elements. To turn an empty room into a library, you’ll need just a few basics: a bookcase, a comfy chair or small sofa to read on, a writing surface for note taking, a good light source, and of course, books!

In addition to these basics, libraries are a good place to store art objects, whether paintings and other wall art, and physical art such as painted china, sculptures, masks, carved jade, and ceremonial instruments. Plants like to live in libraries, if you have extra shelf space, and cats like to live in libraries, too, though it’s probably not where you want to keep the litter box. If you enjoy listening to music while you read, you can find some room for speakers in your library as well. Or, you may even want to set up your vintage record player and put your old vinyls on display. Let’s start at the beginning, though, with books, and somewhere to put them.


Brookside Bookcase for a custom home library

Plants and art objects can fill in spaces in your Brookside Bookcase as you grow your book collection.

Finding a Bookcase for Your Home Library

The number of books you have, and the rate at which you accumulate them, should determine the size of your bookcase. It’s a good idea to have empty space left in your bookcase after you’ve shelved all your books, or else you’re going to need additional bookcases as you continue adding to your collection. Instead of sizing your bookcase based on an estimation of how much space your books will take up, considering sizing it based on wall space instead.

For instance, if you measure every book you have and realize a case for them would take up 3/4, or 7/8 of one of your walls, you might as well get a bookcase that covers the entire wall. This way, you don’t have unused space on the side of the case, and you will have room for your book collection to grow.

Since every home, and every book collection is a different size, this is a very good reason to build or purchase a custom bookcase, one that fits where it needs to. Pre-sized, mass-produced bookcases won’t necessarily be the right dimensions for your space, which can throw off the feel of your room. Choosing a custom bookcase also allows you to pick the wood and stain of the furniture, helping create a harmonious mood by matching the rest of the room. Instead of a bookcase, or in addition, you can also choose to add shelving to your walls. This is more work, and more permanent, but allows you the greatest amount of customization.


The Carolina Bookcase for a home library

The right bookcase should feel natural, fitting into your room as if it was built for it.

Filling In Your Home Library With Furniture and Lighting

In addition to storing books, a library should be a place where you want to read them. Furnishing your library with one or two comfortable chairs, or a loveseat, will give you plenty of room to read. Adding a small sideboard or table will give you a place to put your coffee, the books you have in progress, a plant, a puzzle, or a small lamp. If you want the library to be just a library, it’s probably a good idea to limit the seating to a few furniture pieces. There should be enough space for one to three people. If more people than that want to hang out, they’re probably not reading, and they can the living room.

If your bookcase takes up one wall, and your chairs take up another wall or two, that leaves just enough space for the last piece of library furniture:your desk. Ideal for working, a library is a quiet place to study, research, write, and take care of your bills and other household paper-chores. Particularly if you don’t have a dedicated home office, it’s important to have a space in your home to do your paperwork without distraction.

Finally, think about lighting your library. Libraries love warm light, like sunlight and light produced by incandescent bulbs. LEDs and fluorescent lighting can be harsh and uninviting in your library space, and can feel like a strain on your eyes. Overhead lighting is good, particularly for times when multiple people are using your library, but floor lamps and table lamps create more of a sense of hominess and intimacy. Table lamps can go on your desk, or if you have a small sideboard or table.

Your library should be an expression of yourself. The more care and attention put into finding the right bookcase, choosing comfortable chairs, and deciding on the perfect desk, the more comfortable and rewarding spending time in your library will be. The easiest way to find the ideal pieces of furniture for your library is to have them custom built so that they match the size and character of the rest of the room.

How To Get Started

At Unruh Furniture, we want to help you live in your best home. Our custom bookcases, sideboards, and desks can help you finally feel like you’re living in the library of your dreams. Schedule a visit to our Dallas showroom to see our full line of furniture.

By Kaitlin Kusch

Kaitlin is a Kansas City native with a passion for design and a love for people. She has an uncanny ability to know the best furniture solution for a unique space. And did we mention she loves animals too?

Contact Unruh Furniture’s team today to customize the way you live.

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