Homes with built in libraries are the envy of every booklover. But, you don’t have to luck into finding a home with one already created, you can create your own. By implementing your own home library design, you create your dream library, housing your books the way they were meant to be.

That’s exactly what Ashley of @our1917farmhouse did. She found her dream home, except it lacked a library. So, she built one! She had a large, old book collection that she designed her library around. Take a page out of her book and get some home library design ideas here!

woman at desk in her home library with floor to ceiling bookshelves

How to Build a Home Library

The essentials for building a home library are finding the space, identifying your design, purchasing the materials, and installation—always keeping comfort in mind. What do you really need for a library? Shelving for the books, seating for reading, and temperature control.

Ashley decided to build her home library in the spare room in her farmhouse. When she moved into her new home, she decided she would turn the den into her home library. It already had a beautiful fireplace, but she added floor to ceiling shelves for her book collection.

woman on a ladder reaching for a book in her home library

Ashley’s home library design had to include custom bookshelves because her large book collection had unusually large books that couldn’t all fit standard bookcases. And Ashley says, “When I picture a library, I envision floor to ceiling books.”

Watch her home library tour for ideas on how to build a home library. If you’re not inspired, you only have your shelf to blame.

Home Library Design Grows with You, And Your Shelves

Home library design ideas can start with one vision, but grow with your needs. For Ashley, her library started as just a beautiful place to store all her books. Then she added more. So, more shelving needed to be added. Then the library turned into her home office as well. As her family grew, so did the needs of her library and it turned into a playroom too! Through all these transformations, the library has remained her cozy spot and sanctuary.

home library design that includes an office

Creating a Home Library That’s Comfortable & Inviting

No matter which stage of home library design she’s in, Ashley makes sure the room is comfortable. She went from an adorable office set up to a cozy couch. Then, she added a large, soft rug when it transitioned into a playroom.

The first update she made when creating a home library was adding window inserts to control the temperature and protect her book collection. She’d been looking for an old farmhouse to restore for a long time and didn’t want to change the structure of the home, including the windows. So, adding window inserts that press into the existing windows then nearly disappear were an ideal solution.

man installing window inserts that block uv rays which fade and discolor books

The window inserts block drafts and help regulate the temperature inside the library, keeping it nice and cozy. They also block UV rays to help protect the thousands of books in her collection, the oldest of which is from 1803! Light damage (UV rays) will fade and discolor all objects over time, especially paper. Adding a layer that filters out UV rays stops this deterioration.

Window inserts also block outside noise to keep your library nice and quiet (without librarians telling you to shush!). And because they are hardly visible, your design secrets will stay very hush hush.


Home Library Design Ideas:

  • Allow room for growth - your book collection will grow, so make sure there’s room for more books or more bookshelves
  • Allow room for adjustments - your life will change and the room may need to serve double-duty as an office or playroom
  • Make it comfortable - this isn’t a public library, it should be cozy - take some tips from How to Design a Meditation Room

Homes with Built in Libraries are Sustainable

Home libraries are sustainable, especially if you are purchasing secondhand and older books like Ashley is. This way, you are ensuring they aren’t being added to landfill.

Also, bookshelves work as added insulation to your walls. Yes, the best insulation goes inside your walls, but adding a secondary layer of books does help keep the cold out:

“Thrifty homeowners and concerned contractors have noticed that, when placed in large quantities along exterior walls in a home, books can actually have a similar effect to standard cellulose insulation in that they prevent cold air from entering a home in areas where it isn’t wanted.” –The Shelving Store

Ready for a New Chapter in Your Home?

Ashley turned a den with blank walls into a cozy library with floor to ceiling bookshelves. That room has been through many design stages and may see more, and it has been a sanctuary for Ashley through each iteration. Just because you start your library with one vision, doesn’t mean that’s how it will end up. You have home library design ideas, start building a home library today—your weekend is now booked!