Whether you have a standalone shelf or a well-stocked home library, these refreshing bookshelf ideas will bring your books’ homes to life. When meaningful writers and risk-taking architects come together, dreamy libraries come into being. Let’s get inspired by these well-designed spaces and create a relaxing nest so we can enjoy our personal collections. With a small-scale remodelling project, you can bring a small piece of these international libraries to your home.
Vennesla Library and Culture House, Norway
Thoughtfully designed by Siv Helene Stangeland and Reinhard Kropf, the interior of this bright space is reminiscent of a whale’s skeleton. The huge timber ribs curve up to the ceiling and back onto the floor, creating surfaces for books and seats for readers. Light flows in through the windows from all angles providing natural light which is supplemented by additional lighting installed into the ribs in the ceiling. The blue cushioning provides cosy spots for bookworms to curl up. Designed with environmental and social sustainability in mind, this building will be inspiring thinkers for years to come.
Taking inspiration from this incredible space, we can experiment with timber shelving in softly curved designs. Choose a space with sufficient natural light, and supplement that sunlight with energy-efficient bulbs in the ceiling. Additionally, accessorise the seating area with soft blue textiles for a comfortable spot to read.
The Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, Brazil
Inside The Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading in Rio de Janeiro, the books lean against the high-ceilinged, dark green walls. The intricate wood carvings with gold accents frame the books like precious gems in a jewellery store window. The monochromatic floors are tiled in shades of light grey with dark grey borders; this simplicity allows the attention to be focused on the books (although I cannot say that I wouldn’t be distracted by the space). A huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling ties all the rich details of the room together into a giant gift for humanity.
To bring a taste of this library to your home, experiment with bookshelf ideas that involve richly-pigmented paint. Green, teal, and blue will work to bring a space together for a more intimate feel — this will be more effective if the bookshelves are built into the wall. With a few touches of intricately carved decorative wooden pieces, golden hardware and paint, and stony grey furniture, your personal reading space might just give off the same show-stopping effect of The Cabinet of Reading in Brazil.
Stuttgart City Library, Germany
The simple cubical exterior of this library in Stuttgard is reflective of its interiors. The clean lines of shelves, tables, chairs, rails, and stairs run straight across the library’s utilitarian space. The stark white colour scheme provides a clean slate for patrons so that they can think, read, and write in an uncluttered space. The only objects with colour are the bright book spines and exaggeratedly simple seating with uniform upholstery in the perfect shade of blue. With this design which embodies the spirit of minimalism, it is much easier for the public to remain open-minded and stress-free when dreaming up new ideas here.
To bring these benefits to your private space, start with a white bookshelf or paint your existing one white. The colourful spines of your book collection will contrast beautifully against the plain, neutral background like candy scattered across a sheet of paper. With a limited number of soft furnishings in a medium shade of blue, your simplistic reading space will leave lots of room for your imagination.
For Smaller Libraries
If you are looking for bookshelf ideas for your dorm room shelf which you cannot paint or carve, don’t fret. There are less permanent ways to transform your shelves. Get your hands on some adhesive shelf liners; they come in a myriad of different colours, patterns, and textures. However, you must beware of super sticky versions if you are not looking forward to losing your safety deposit from ripping up the shelf’s fake wood. When artists need to use tape for their artworks, they will stick the tape a few times on their clothes first to lessen the adhesive strength. Use this same trick to get the shelf liners less sticky before covering your dorm furniture in it. Alternatively, you can use scotch tape to stick on heavy-weighted wrapping papers to transform your shelves into a new colour. With miniature wood carvings, stones, and interesting lighting, you will be able to transform your shelf from a boring dorm storage unit to a personalised miniature library. In the meantime, you can start planning your dream library which you can create one day.