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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
  • The Sidecar, price available upon request from Moore & Giles [1-800-737-0169]

    This beautifully crafted bar cart, The Sidecar by Moore and Giles, is a great way to store liquor, glassware, bar tools, and anything else needed to complete your own miniature bar. The cart, made of Virginia black walnut, birch, leather, aluminum, and brass, is wheeled to make sure the party can travel with you. Perfect for drink-lovers without the space for a full bar.