Pile ’em high in style: eight big ideas for booklovers

Best in Class: Here are some clever ways to keep your books organised

This feature shelving acts as a repository for  reading matter as well as a climbing wall for the owners’ shy felines. Photograph: Francis Dzikowski/ Otto

This feature shelving acts as a repository for reading matter as well as a climbing wall for the owners’ shy felines. Photograph: Francis Dzikowski/ Otto

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1. FOR LOVERS OF BOOKS AND CATS

Books are one of the most interesting ways to fill and decorate a room. They add colour and class and can take you on journeys of discovery. Their physical form can help dim sound and they offer many ways to add personality. This particular Brooklyn townhouse belongs to a couple of book lovers and cat lovers and, thanks to the creative genius of architects Barker Freeman, the feature shelving acts as a repository for their reading matter as well as a climbing wall for their shy felines. Note there are slipways at the top of the shelving where the cats can slope off when they get bored or intruded on by visitors. Some of the shelves have little lip-like ledges to make it easier for the pair of cats to ascend and descend. barkerfreeman.com 

2. READING CORNER

Create a reading corner with this tall book shelf.
Create a reading corner with this tall book shelf.

The Riley armchair from Marks & Spencer’s Loft collection is especially elegant looking in this sugar pink velvet but it is the narrow and tall bookshelves to its rear that really catch the eye. They travel up to the top of these 11ft high ceilings and have also been used to create a broken plan layout within the room, creating a reading corner where there is also room to house a couple of side tables. The second side table, to the right of the shot, has been constructed out of a stack of hardback titles and, while it looks good is probably not secure enough to place a cup of tea or coffee as pictured here, unless you glue the titles together to give them some core strength and stop slippery cover jackets from causing some of the books to slide. The chair costs €399, to order. marksandspencer.ie 

3. BOOK-FRAMED WINDOWS

Frame your windows with your books.
Frame your windows with your books.

Bookshelves can be used as a way to frame windows, as pictured, especially in period homes where you have good ceiling heights. This property has a panelled timber ceiling that has been painted in Snow White, a soft white from Fleetwood’s Pantone range. A single row of books, tall enough to fit paperbacks only sit above the windows with narrow panels built to the edge of the pair of casements in this room. Below the deep sills, where you could perch with a book in hand, there is more built-in shelving. A good joiner like Wabi Sabi will make the shelving look as if it has been in situ since the house was built. The beauty here is that the leaves of yellowing titles haven’t been hidden away and contrast with the rich feature colour between the windows, Classic Blue. The paler blue, Aquamarine, on the right hand wall, both Fleetwood, also helps to conjure up the seaside location of this property. fleetwood.ie; wabisabi.ie

4. CONTEMPORARY LIBRARY

Smart and masculine library of dark wenge bookshelves fill the lower halves of the room’s walls.
Smart and masculine library of dark wenge bookshelves fill the lower halves of the room’s walls.

This contemporary Hollywood Hills home has created a very smart and masculine library of dark wenge bookshelves that fill the lower halves of the room’s two walls. There is a confidence to its design by LA-based Griffin Enright Architects, whose principal John Enright is Irish American, as the room has been given space to breathe – the bookshelves don’t overwhelm and wall space has been factored in to accommodate a piece of art while light and greenery are also visible through its large picture window. The raised, pale-coloured floor also helps lighten the mood. The space almost feels imminently browsable, a place where you might pick up a book and plonk yourself down on the only piece of furniture here, an Ox chair, by Hans J Wenger, from €9,630, in leather, and its matching footstool, from €2250, both of which can be ordered through Dún Laoghaire-based Lost Weekend. griffinenrightarchitects.com; lostweekend.ie

5. SHELVING SYSTEMS

A Brera bookcase by Italian firm Gallotti & Radice is a shelving system hung onto satin nickel-plated brass vertical supports.
A Brera bookcase by Italian firm Gallotti & Radice is a shelving system hung onto satin nickel-plated brass vertical supports.

This living room houses a Brera bookcase by Italian firm Gallotti & Radice, which started life in the 1950s as a lighting specialist. The shelving system is hung onto satin nickel-plated brass vertical supports and you have a choice of clay stained or black open pore lacquered ash shelves. You can also add door panels or flap door units to hide a TV. It costs from €4,060, ex delivery, from London-based Chaplins and is pictured here with some other classic designs from the company; its Cloud sofa, about €9,210, and several coffee tables; the Haumea in two sizes; small 80cm by 40cm, €1,765, and the large, 120cm by 33cm, about €2,970, and the Gong, about €1,737. The ceiling pendants, the celestial-like Bole, about €2,505 and the gold brutalist-inspired Eris, €4,473, ex delivery. chaplins.co.uk; gallottiradice.it

6. LIBRARY DEVOID OF BOOKS

A book-inspired library that is almost devoid of books but features an X-ray version of book wallpaper.
A book-inspired library that is almost devoid of books but features an X-ray version of book wallpaper.

Belgian-born, Paris-based Ramy Fischler is one of the most interesting talents in the city of light. Recently voted Designer of the Year at last month’s Maison et Objet, his work straddles the public and private realms and offers a highly original viewpoint. A recent commission for Refettorio Paris, a soup kitchen for the homeless and refugees, initiated by Italy’s most prominent chef, Massimo Bottura and established inside the Foyer de la Madeleine, shows clouds that you might interpret as having silver linings suspended high above a barrel vaulted ceiling.

Twitter France has also commissioned him to investigate the many ways in which work environments are changing, question the value of information and apply his findings to space planning and office design. Part of the space includes this book-inspired library that is almost devoid of books but features an X-ray version of book wallpaper that trended some years back. The skeletal motif is highly decorative and repeated on the cushions. Just two bookcases to the left of the shot have actual physical books in them. This is a space to free the mind from all the visual noise of modern life. rfstudio.fr 

7. FREESTANDING BOOKCASES

Como shelving system is a perfect square, and will look smartest centred against a wall.
Como shelving system is a perfect square, and will look smartest centred against a wall.

Freestanding bookcases need to fit a room properly by allowing a balance of negative space on either side to make any shop-bought styles really look at home. The larger size Como shelving system pictured here is a perfect square, 205cm high by 205cm long, and will look smartest centred against a wall. At just 22cm deep it may not accommodate all your large coffee table tomes but it will really come alive if you fill it with a mix of books, plants and objects. Painting the wall behind the same colour as the shelving will feel fresh and modern, especially if you choose to go dark and plump for the charcoal grey shelving, pictured. Team a deep almost black grey painted wall that makes the shelving recede allowing the spines and leaves of the titles within to shine. The shelving is also available in ash grey or white and costs €2,949 from Bo Concept, Beacon South Quarter or its concession within Arnotts. boconcept.ie; arnotts.ie

8. BOOKENDS AND BOOKSTANDS

Windlass ends by Plymouth-based Escapology Home are miniature versions of early turnbuckles, and are forged of polished cast aluminium and brass.
Windlass ends by Plymouth-based Escapology Home are miniature versions of early turnbuckles, and are forged of polished cast aluminium and brass.

Don’t forget to add decorative touches like bookends and bookstands to punctuate your shelving. These Windlass ends by Plymouth-based Escapology Home are miniature versions of early turnbuckles that regulated sail line tension, and are forged of polished cast aluminium and brass. The pair costs about €135, ex delivery. Premium art and design book publisher Assouline sells a very smart book stand that comes in red, black or clear acrylic and would make a lovely gift, especially if you package it with an interesting title.

Assouline sells a very smart book stand that comes in red, black or clear acrylic.
Assouline sells a very smart book stand that comes in red, black or clear acrylic.

The stands costs about €82, ex delivery and taxes, from the US site which also stocks black alligator skin bookends decorated with gold-plated malachite stones, from €426, ex charges. assouline.com; escapologyhome.com

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