Americans are spending on average $118 a year on books, by one estimate. That’s a lot of page-turners over a lifetime, which brings up the issue of storage. For bookworms buried under heaps of best-sellers, it may be time for a little order.
We’re not talking about a stuffy, formal room where you retire in a smoking jacket with a pipe to read. The home library is changing and expanding to keep up with our multimedia lifestyles. Books might be the biggest collection, but we often need storage space for movies and maybe even music.
Start by setting up a reading area if books are your biggest collection. Make it a bright and comfortable space. A library also can be less traditional in form, especially if you live in an unconventional space.
Whether large or small, the library should be organized.
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“The key is to set your books up in a way that you can easily find them,” said Julie Bertram, owner of The Organizing Pro, a professional organizing firm in Charlotte. “For the majority of people, what makes the most sense is to have them grouped by the type of book.”
At least once a month, Bertram is called in to organize a home library, usually one with around 10 to 20 shelves of books. Most of the time, they’re in no particular order. Categorizing by fiction, nonfiction, self-help and how-to books, Bertram said, dims the frustration of searching for a certain book.
“Most people don’t take the time to actually organize their books in that manner, but (they) like it,” said Bertram.
Others prefer to organize in alphabetical order by author, or even by color if they’re interested in a decorator’s look. There’s no wrong way to organize a home library, as long as it works for you, said Bertram. “It kind of matters how their brain works,” she said.
Relax and read
A comfortable reading nook requires a cozy chair and quick access to its books. The Bibliochaise by Italian designers at nobody&co remedies both of those issues. The design provides a thick-cushioned chair and keeps books within arm’s reach. Available in a variety of colors and fabrics, the Bibliochaise can hold up to 300 books. Hidden wheels make it feel as if you’ve got your own in-home bookmobile. Starting at $7,600 at www.nobody&co.it.
Most rooms have four corners. Make one of them your personal retreat. Pottery Barn’s Ryland Modular Banquette Set comes with two end pieces and one corner piece to create an out-of-the way space for relaxing with a good read and good tunes. Cubbies underneath can be used for stacking books, DVDs or a media mix. The cushions are available in several machine-washable fabrics, in case you spill your latte. $747 to $1,299 at www.potterybarn.com.
Some homeowners would say they don’t have space for a home library, but where there is a doorway there is an opportunity. The Bookcase Door by The Murphy Door gives you an open-and-shut storage option. It has shelves on the side facing the room. The door comes preassembled in three door sizes (30, 32 and 36 inches), with trim and hardware included. Starting at $995 at www.themurphydoor.com.
Most homes have stacks of DVDs, CDs, and maybe even a few VHS tapes lying around. The Library Style 24 Drawer Multimedia Cabinet by Leslie Dame Enterprises can give you a place to organize those items. The cabinet looks like a library’s card catalog from decades ago, but this one houses up to 456 CDs, 192 DVDs, or 96 VHS tapes. Use the labels to organize your collection and tell you what’s inside each drawer. Starting at $189 at www.wayfair.com.
Grow your own library
As your library grows, your approach to organizing it may change. The interlocking components of Trilogy Staircase Shelf by Smart Furniture can be assembled in various configurations, including one that fits under a set of stairs. Starting at $240 at www.smartfurniture.com.
The Tree Bookcase by Nursery Works is perhaps as whimsical as some of the children’s storybooks it is designed to hold. Place up to 100 books on its branches, or mix in a few videos. Attach it to a wall, and it provides a clever way for a child to pick from the tree of knowledge. $899 at www.wayfair.com.