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Dazzling Designer Libraries

These dazzling designer libraries all have one thing in common—they'll make you want to grab a book and snuggle up! 

Written by Debra Steilen and Julianne Hilmes
  • Michael Garland

    You might need to lower your voice in a library, but that doesn't mean the design has to be tame too. Click through these snazzy spaces to find a library that suits your own personal style. 

    A sunny former dining room only saw action in the evening, so to make the most of the light-filled space, designer Chris Barrett flipped it into a gorgeous library. Books and artifacts fill the floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves creating a cozy atmosphere. 

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    Design: Chris Barrett

  • John Bessler

    Elegant Library

    Reclaimed 19th-century Cuban mahogany paneling helped convert a boxlike living room into a library/living room with character. Designer Eric Lysdahl made sure the beautiful old mahogany bookcases were outfitted with enough shelves to accommodate both homeowners’ collections. A silk-covered sofa hobnobs with serpent-arm chairs and French Neoclassic stools being used as cocktail tables. 

    DesignEric Lysdahl 

  • Robert Thien

    Color-Coordinated Library

    Designer Doug Weiss made books themselves the main characters in this Atlanta showhouse library. All 450 hardbacks in the mahogany-paneled room are covered in four coordinating shades of apricot. Other spicy tones can be found in the oversize brown-paisley pattern used to upholster the sofa, an armchair in mustard velvet, and a rug with large-scale quatrefoil motif.

    Design: Doug Weiss

  • Colleen Duffley

    Global Library

    Designed by Eric Cohler, this guest-room-turned library got its springboard into a global vibe from the zebra rug. Pieces of folk, Native American, and pre-Columbian art add an ethnic attitude to the space. A linen Roman shade trimmed in Greek-key tape offers a neutral backdrop for the library’s lively patterns.

    Design: Eric Cohler

  • Bruce Buck

    Playful Library

    Designer Eliza Gatfield incorporated a playful mix of finishes, fabric patterns, and materials into her house – including this library -- to create a relaxed environment. She designed the colorful library rug, borrowing on painterly ikat motifs. Green-and-taupe flocked fabric adds charm to the sofa cushions and ottoman. The art over the bookcases is by Jennifer Bartlett.

    Design: Eliza Gatfield

  • John Bessler

    Comfortable Library

    Designer Janet Simon created this warm, comfortable library for her own neo-Georgian home in New Jersey. The wood-paneled room is clad in a rich palette of moss green, gold, chocolate, and paprika with a touch of beagle for good measure. Drapery fabric is by Lee Jofa; the linen velvet sofa is by Ernest Studio Inc.

    Design: Janet Simon

  • Joe Schmelzer

    Eco-Friendly Library

    This sumptuous library boasts a commitment to sustainable and eco-kind materials from the ground up. Designer Timothy Corrigan chose recycled lumber to panel the library and build the fireplace mantel.  A red roll arm chair with 19th-century side table create a comfy place to read in front of the fire (Corrigan views antiques as the ultimate green product since no new resources are used to create them).  The light fixture is a Scheherazade silk lamp from Fortuny.

    Design: Timothy Corrigan

  • John Bessler

    Two-Story Library

    A glass roof floods this two-story library with light. Created by architect Michael Graves for his New Jersey warehouse-turned-residence, the room is filled with bookcases that feature faux birdseye maple painting on PVC pipe and MDF shelves. Antique furnishings -- rugs, a bookcase ladder, a book stand, and an etching in a round frame – help the bookshelves carry out the illusion of age.

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    Design: Michael Graves

  • Dominique Vorillon

    European-Style Library

    With an eye toward enhancing the European aesthetic, designer Helene Aument had the walnut paneling lightened in a formerly dark library and added an antique stone mantel to the fireplace surround. Seductively soft velvets and chenilles cover the library furnishings.  A flat screen TV is discretely tucked within shelves next to the fireplace.

    Design: Helene Aument

  • Nancy Nolan

    Eco-Conscious Library

    Designer Zem Joaquin designed this library as part of her own home’s eco-conscious renovation to help children suffering from allergies. Bookshelves were built from Forest Stewardship Council-certified mahogany. The Regency chairs in lavender silk were purchased on eBay, one of Zem’s favorite shopping sources.

    Design: Zem Joaquin

  • Bruce Buck

    Low-Key Library

    Designers Mary Foley and Michael Cox collaborated on a low-key restoration of a shingled Cape Cod cottage for homeowners who wanted to gain more space for casual family gatherings. The newly added library offers both a quiet place to work and enough shelves to display cherished collections, including a shadowbox by Anthony: called “A Gentleman’s Club.”

    Design: Mary Foley and Michael Cox 

  • Tria Giovan

    Library-Office Combination

    This library, designed by Serena Crowley for her New England home, includes an office nook separated from the main space by glass-paneled pocket doors. The doors provide the office dweller privacy and quiet without blocking natural light from entering the adjoining room.

    Design: Serena Crowley

  • Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

    Library-Breakfast Room

    Birmingham designer Jane Hoke created this library space in the great room of a house getting a complete renovation. A lowered ceiling and a “bird-watching” window bring down the scale of the area, which is often used for intimate breakfasts. Going for a mountain-cottage feel, she included a mounted fish above the window, and used a woodsy green trim paint called Evening Grove from Benjamin Moore. Shaker-style wood furniture adds to the room’s homey feel.

    Design: Jane Hoke

  • Werner Straube

    Laid-Back Library

    A graceful game table claims a sunlit corner of a library in a rambling Spanish-style Hollywood home. Soft pillows make a comfy window seat the perfect location for reading. This and other relaxed, yet elegant, interiors within the house were crafted by designer Madeline Stuart.

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    Design: Madeline Stuart

  • Werner Straube

    Dazzling Library

    Simultaneously elegant and personal, this high-drama library was designed by Dallas-based interior designer Jan Showers. With a palette reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the space is lacquered from baseboards to bookshelves in high-gloss navy blue. Silk window treatments blend seamlessly into the walls, creating the perfect backdrop for acid-green leather chairs from the Paris flea market. A faux zebra-skin rug adds dramatic pattern.

    Design: Jan Showers

  • Michal Venera

    Library-Media Room

    A vibrant Alexander Calder lithograph hangs between two bookcases in the library/media room designed by Bay area designer Tres McKinney. Sage-green grasscloth-covered walls partner easily with the faux-finished cabinetry and wainscoting. As with other furnishings throughout the house, the ottoman and pillows are finished with lush trims. 

    Design: Tres McKinney

  • Jessica Glynn and Nick Johnson