Library Elements (Page 4)

Construction materials. Each person’s library (and house) are built with a combination of different materials for floors, wall coverings or paint colors, book shelves, etc. The materials that are appropriate for a home library will depend in part on what style and materials are used in the rest of the house.

That being said, there are some choices that are more traditional in home libraries, ones that can be seen in numerous photos on this site and elsewhere. These reflect my own taste as well, of course.


Flooring: In my opinion, hardwood floors with Persian carpets upon them are the most attractive and traditional look for home libraries.

In the matter of Persian carpets, I tend to like ones that are predominantly red, but that is my own taste. And it helps if the rug isn't too new -- ones with a bit of age on them are always so much more attractive than ones straight from the carpet or home improvement store, plus used Persian rugs (actually from Persia, or Iran) are really quite reasonably-priced on Ebay, compared to stiff new ones. Rugs and sofas are the big ways to add color to a library, especially ones with walls entirely covered by bookshelves, so choose a carpet you really love. You’ll be looking at it a lot, and maybe even reading on it.

I have seen photos of beautifully outfitted libraries that do not have hardwood floors, but wall-to-wall carpet instead, and they never look quite right to me (it looks like the builder took the cheap way out when spec building, see below).

It’s not that libraries must have hardwood floors, but if you are trying for a traditional, Old-English library look, hardwood floors are pretty essential, in my opinion.


Walls: Wallpaper could be all right in a library, but it could also look busy in combination with the many book spines in the library, which form their own sort of  “wallpaper” pattern. My preference is to paint in solid colors any parts of walls not covered by bookshelves. A rich color is often used in traditional libraries, and there are several that occur frequently in photos on the site.

My favorite library color is red, but there are many shades of red that can be used. There is a bright (and often high gloss, as in the famous Brooke Astor library, above, top) red that is very stylish, although it is a bold choice that needs careful planning in other furnishings and architecture to pull off.

I like a dustier, faded red (“old barn red” I like to call it), and have used it in my last two libraries (one of them shown in the third photo, above). A rich, dark, burgundy would also work, although care would have to be taken with furnishings and lighting not to end up with a very dark room (in the last photo, above, the floor, carpet and ceiling are all light-colored to offset the deep red walls).   


Green is another traditional color for home libraries. Often, a dark forest green is chosen, although medium shades of green could be nice. Sometimes a green wall color can be accompanied by small amounts of plaid in fabrics for a old Scottish look.