Creating a Sanctuary – the Library

By Julie Browning Bova

“I know every book of mine by it’s smell, and I have put my nose between the pages to be reminded of all sorts of things.”- George Robert Gissing

Books inspire us, help us visualize thoughts and take us to interior spaces around the world. Books enrich our lives. I have collected hundreds of coffee table books.

As a designer, books act as a tool to teach and help explore every decade of design, architecture, lifestyle, fashion and art. I quickly grab off the shelves these extraordinary treasures to reference inspirations, perhaps simply a color or subjects as diverse as gardens or incredible architectural details.

These beautiful bound images and descriptions (The Bookhouse Series By Olive Beaupre Miller, below) have been my professional companion for many years and I adore them for their beauty and vintage appeal.

The Bookhouse Series By Olive Beaupre Miller

The pages are yellowed, the illustrations are outlined in intricate borders with a brush stroke of color every so often.  Published in the 1920’s this collection were heirlooms in my family’s library.

Using Books in Design

I will always gather information along the way about the client and in the final stages of accessorizing I will add beautiful coffee table books that define the home owner’s interests and pull a multitude of color together in the space.

I love to have stacks of books next to wing-back chairs for the hot cup of tea! A height adjustment can easily be made one edition at a time.

When designing for the home library  I love a double sided partners desk. Lots of storage and a large table top space to work  upon is vital. Grommets  for cords to thread through is a luxury and not often found in older pieces.  Buying “new old “is always desirable for designer.

"Matters of State", A flame mahogany partners' pedestal desk with power and wire management

Modern furniture manufacturers like Theodore Alexander  address these critical cabling issues as well as filing systems for our daily paper management.

Don’t forget the classic library chair! Trust me – they always add character and will always feel at home in the Library.

"The Castle Fireside Chair"

For a cosy family setting in any library, group four of these around an ottoman.

"The Garden Room Chair"

Creating Character

Books create texture and warmth. I don’t know if it is the comfort of knowing all of the cover pictures or having read all of the pages. Perhaps it is the memories of reading and re-reading, being inspired by authors and the beautiful images.

For me heading in to research a project with all of my books is an absolute joy.  Libraries are important as places of solitude that give us quiet time to organize thoughts, write correspondence or ponder the days activities.

Accessorizing your books is an important aspect of creating a layered look in your library or office.  I am reorganizing some of my favorite interior design and history books. Look what I came across when surfing the new Theodore Alexander website! Equestrian book ends! (If you look closely at the bookshelves will see one of my passions is horses).

"Red Ribbon Bookends" A pair of ash burl bookends, mounted with fine verdigris brass horses heads. The originals late 19th century French.

There is always room for decorative and functional bookends

I will end with one of my favorite quotations and I hope it inspires you to seek out the library spaces that you love, and perhaps create your own literary sanctuary.

“Let your bookcases and your shelves be your garden and your pleasure grounds. Pluck the fruit that grows therein, gather the roses, the spices and the myrrh.”- Judah Ibn Tibbon

I love the library at Althorp which seems a perfect family retreat

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