Limitless libraries: designing the perfect home library

A good home library is so much more than a storage space for books. Done right, it can become the tranquil heart of the home: where we relax, read, learn and escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Building the right environment for this kind of sanctuary is a process that depends on your tastes, the space available and the practical needs of your family. Perhaps most importantly, the perfect home library is adaptable: to new purchases of books and other treasures, to redecoration, to your family members’ changing needs, and to the thousands of other little surprises of modern life.

What to consider: light and space

It’s worth thinking first about existing environmental features in the room where you’ll be putting the library.

You usually won’t be able to change the level of natural light, the physical shape of the room, or large structural features such as beams. If the room has high levels of natural rays, you can make the most of it by brightening the room with light colours and open shelving in your library - take care, though, to protect your books’ spines from bleaching as a result of direct exposure to sunlight. If natural light is low, think carefully about how to incorporate the artificial kind. One option is the USM Haller E with built-in lighting elements - you can select a lighting “temperature” to suit the environment of your library: ‘warm white’ for a deep and welcoming glow, or ‘cold white’ for a little more illumination.

It’s also important to work with the space that is actually available. If you only have a small amount of wallspace but significant storage needs, use your shelving to maximise capacity, selecting wide shelves and cutting down on excess vertical space. More room can allow for more playful designs, incorporating more open modules or built-in study areas with desks.

What to consider: storage and display

Most obviously, a library needs to have space to store and display all of your books, files, art objects and other accoutrements. Most collections will include books and objects of varying sizes: small paperbacks to large hardcover coffee table books, small knick-knacks to large vases and family heirlooms. Design your shelves to have enough space to house every object without appearing cluttered, but not so much room that the shelving appears empty.

No collection of books and other objects is ever static, though preparing for future purchases is also essential. Building in breathing space is one way to stay prepared. And with USM Haller's modular system, each shelf is built to standardised dimensions that can be easily added to or reconfigured after purchase - so if your collection expands dramatically, we can help you adapt your shelving to accommodate it.

What to consider: customising your shelving

A shelving system can be so much more than a simple grid of shelves. Incorporate additional storage elements to enable full organisation and save space elsewhere. Built-in adjustable bookends, for example, allow you to quickly and easily adapt your shelving when you add new books to your shelves. Build in private storage for sensitive documents and valuables with lockable doors and drawers.

When it comes to selecting colours for your shelving and other furniture, you can either design pieces that will complement existing decor, or create dream pieces around which you can base other design decisions. Pure white is a classic choice: smooth and elegant, but with a style that’s adaptable to any number of future redecorations. For home libraries in family homes, bolder colours such as a warm yellow create a playful atmosphere that the whole family can enjoy.

Create your own home library with the USM Haller system and our other furniture ranges - use our interactive online configurator to design pieces or get in touch to work with our experts on perfect designs for your home.