Larger Home Libraries (page 14)


Architectural Digest (thanks to Jim L. for sending it)

This library whispers “coziness” wrapped in deep wood paneling, with comfortable armchairs pulled up to a warm hearth. The elegant wood spiral staircase leads to the second story where ample shelf space is already completely filled with books. The traditional sailboat painting combined with the ample wood paneling lends a nautical feel to this beautiful and appealing room. 


Country Life Magazine, October 5, 2011 (Thanks to Jim L. for sending the scan)

A very homey-looking library, in which bookshelves cover at least one wall all the way up to the double-height ceiling. Rich, golden-yellow wall color and the cotton Indian print wall hanging and bed covers on the couches make this a casually comfortable room in which to read and relax. The Victorian-style circular staircase and herringbone parquet wood floors, together with the knotty pine woodwork suggest that this is an older house or apartment that has been retrofitted with the landing and bookshelves.


2149 (Thanks to Jim L. for the suggestion)

The rotunda library in the "Beechwood" estate in Scarborough, New York. The estate was purchased by Frank A. Vanderlip (1864-1937), a successful banker and Assistant Secretary of Treasury for President McKinley's second term (and a member of the Jekyll Island group of bankers that, in November, 1910, likely outlined the drafting of the eventual Federal Reserve Act). Vanderlip commissioned William Welles Bosworth to expand the large original frame residence to the north with the addition of the Neoclassical library with a sky-lit octagonal ante-room.



“‘I wanted to have a library that doubled as a dining room, where I could be surrounded by the books I love,’ says best-selling author and historian Barbara Goldsmith, who hired interior designer Mica Ertegün to update and decorate her Park Avenue apartment.” Dining rooms combine so well with libraries, especially in NYC apartments, where even on Park Avenue there is limited space. A very classic looking room, and the dentil moldings are impressive.



“At a house she remodeled in California’s Carmel Valley, designer Sally Sirkin Lewis encircled the library with shelves, added French doors to bring in views of the lush landscape, and outfitted the space with Le Corbusier Grand Confort armchairs.” What a beautiful, light-filled space. Usually, large windows and lots of light aren’t things that belong in a library, as they can damage books, but it looks as if much of the library is filled with album books of some kind, so perhaps this won’t be a problem for the owner of the house. And those views! I can understand how they were loathe to shut them out.



“Architect David Ling renovated an Upper East Side apartment for a bibliophile neurosurgeon and incorporated a rare-book library—which Ling described as ‘the centerpiece of the design’—to the mix. Medical books, some dating to the 15th century, line the modern shelves. The sitting area features a Mies van der Rohe Barcelona table surrounded by a Le Corbusier love seat and sling-back chairs.” Again, with the light-filled spaces – I just don’t know if this looks like the best way to store rare 15th-century books. Incunabula deserve better. The books and carpet are absolutely beautiful, though.



“Among the improvements designer Friederike Kemp Biggs (with architect George W. Sweeney) made to her penthouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was adding a mahogany-paneled library. The favorite retreat of her husband, Jeremy, the room features an antique desk and a flat-screen TV concealed behind faux book bindings. There is an inscription on the ceiling adapted from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams in 1815: ‘I cannot live without my books.’” These look like trophy books, but I suppose they couldn’t have the faux-bookshelf TV panel if it didn’t look like the rest of the books. Beautiful woodwork and bindings, but not really a personal library.



“New York City decorator Thomas Jayne restored a 19th-century house in Philadelphia to its former glory. In the library, where French Empire chairs flank an English Regency table, the bookshelf also serves as a backdrop for art.”



“At a 1912 McKim, Mead & White building in Manhattan, Alexa Hampton installed custom bookcases that curve with the walls of the oval library. Gracing the space is a jewel-like metal frieze, while the curtains and tufted love seats, covered in powder-blue cotton velvet, add a gentle dose of color.” An oval library room… intriguing. The shelves don’t curve enough to make book placement difficult, and this extremely formal room has such beautiful architectural details, floors and furnishings that it is impossible not to admire the space.



“After Hurricane Katrina, designer Richard Keith Langham revisited and refreshed a Mississippi house he first decorated two decades ago. Dealer Kinsey Marable built the library’s varied book collection based on the owner’s interests; he also supplied the 19th-century ladder and antique globe.” The deep wall color is fitting for this library. What is notable, however, is that the very high ceilings, together with the reduced distances between the shelves (mostly smaller hardcover and paperback books are stored here), mean that as many as ten shelves are fitted in the space between ceiling and floor – far more than average.

It’s a very antique look, and the ladder is most definitely needed, although I’m not convinced that the ladder in the room is tall enough (or that I would want to climb onto a 19th-century ladder – when my mother was in college in the 1960s, she broke her nose when a very old ladder college department ladder broke when she was atop it!).