In these houses, "getting lit" takes on a more sober definition.
Fans of reading understand that making space for physical literature is a front-end decision. The owners of these homes took deliberate steps in the design process to show off their prized reading collections, and to create rooms where one can lose themselves in a good book. From the
Dwell Magazine print archive, we bring you homes that feature built-ins, shelving, and multiple libraries for heaps of books that rule the room.
A Los Angeles Midcentury with Built-Ins
Among designer furniture from Antonio Citterio and Arne Norell, built-ins filled with books line the living room of this Los Feliz, Los Angeles, renovation.
Houston-based designer Barbara Hill is known for a stripped-down aesthetic that blends art-world cachet with Texas modernism. Vitra’s Slow chair sits in front of a powder-coated-steel bookcase made by Hill’s go-to fabricator, George Sacaris; it was originally built for the Houston house.
Open shelving between the living room and dining area maximizes light and air flow and showcases eclectic objects, which include old printing blocks found at a garage sale and bowls homeowner Kathryn Tyler’s mother bought in South Africa. For Tyler, storage is critical. "It's something that always gets overlooked but it's actually the most important thing. I calculated the linear footage of the books I own to make sure everything would fit."
To impart a high-design feel to the space, architect Mike Jacobs wrapped cabinetry from Ikea with a marble countertop and designed built-in bookshelves around the kitchen and study to help unify the area. Trips to shops in Palm Springs yielded the red side chair and metal magazine rack. The brown suede chair is from MidcenturyLA.
Many of owner Ben Kinmont's culinary craft projects are an extension of his work as an artist and dealer of antiquarian books about food and wine. Off the kitchen, Ben stores his inventory—faded spines lined up on long shelves and a tall cabinet where a few select objects are kept. Next to a gaping fireplace in the sitting area is the most prized and frequently used of his antique cooking implements, an 18th-century French tourne-broche à poids—a delightfully analog contraption for turning a spit over a flame. In the master bedroom, more shelves were installed to accommodate the book collection.
Visiting a Manhattan apartment designed by Tim Seggerman is like sitting inside one of Nakashima’s cabinets, a metaphor realized most fully in an ingenious "library"—really a glorified cubby with a banded maple ceiling, conjured from a free space adjacent to the loft bed.
Ed Parker and his wife, Barbara Tutino Parker, use the TV room cabinet to store their overflowing book collection. Though not a library per se, it serves as such for the Brooklyn brownstone.
Books pepper the Toronto apartment, but most are housed in two libraries, one of which is dedicated to art and photography. It also features a Palms lounger by Dutch designer Frans Schrofer and the painting Any Number of Preoccupations by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. The second bedroom, which also functions as a library, has Vitsœ shelving and houses owner Kenneth Montague’s book collection.
On one side of the house, a white central staircase leads to a split-level landing the Robertsons call "the reading room." "We needed a place to hang out and for the kids to read," explains owner Vivi Nguyen-Robertson. Awaiting the birth of the couple's son, she relaxes in a built-in reading nook in the library.