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8 Home Library Ideas for the Well-Read

From striking aluminum shelving to traditional wood bookshelves, these home library ideas make us want to start a book club

By Sara Cunningham

Every home needs a library – just as it does a kitchen, bathroom and place to sleep. Of course, we don’t mean a whole room dedicated to books (high five if you have one of those), but rather a spot where books can be proudly displayed and then consulted. Like artwork, the library is what stands between us and cold, unadorned walls (hello, institutional vibes). Why collect books in an age of minimalism? Because they’re like old friends. Superficially, they’re also great design objects and on-the-cheap insulation. So here are a few Toronto home library ideas – from modest to soaring – that celebrate the art of living with books.

Home Library Ideas - Aluminum bookshelves appearing to go through a glass floor on the second level by designer Johnson Chou
Photo by Brenda Liu.

1. It Floats

Appearing to burst through a glass floor on the second level, the aluminum bookshelves in Johnson Chou‘s house of frames are striking architectural gestures that make one want ascend the delicate, open-tread staircase and get reading. Says Chou of the window, “I wanted to provide visual access throughout the space, on the horizontal dimension and the vertical.” Here, the books support the architect’s vision. See the full story here.

Scandinavian style bookshelves, Designer The Practice of Everyday Design
Photo by Arnaud Marthouret – Home Library Ideas

2. Scandinavian Savvy

Books are the main event in this Scandinavian-inspired chalet in Parkdale (okay maybe it’s the cathedral ceiling). Built in the same wood as the floors and window accents, the bookshelves create a perfectly hygge retreat that responds to the architecture of the home (note the window box). Designer The Practice of Everyday Design also installed bookshelves along the stairwell, as if writing a preface to the soaring loft above. See the full story here.

designer Tom Deacon walnut-clad library
Photo by Naomi Finlay.

3. Wonderful Walnut

An 18th-century grandfather clock, by Silas Merriman of Philadelphia, stands outside the walnut-clad library in furniture designer Tom Deacon’s eclectic penthouse. Beyond this, a door opens to the private quarters, where the warm-toned antiques give way to a modern aesthetic designed by Andrew Jones. Books, old and new, give the suite at King and Brant streets a sense of rootedness and intimacy. See the full story here.

Kids room with Type Books–curated library in Cabbagetown Victorian. Alison Milne Design Toronto Modern Home
Photo by Arash Moallemi.

4. The Family Library

Emerge from this enviable kids bedroom in Cabbagetown and you’ll find a Type Books–curated library. Yes, the bedroom in this Victorian turned airy retreat is next-level beautiful. Yup, it has a cathedral ceiling and stained glass details. But it’s also tiny, and shared between siblings. And so interior designer Alison Milne placed the library in the hallway. This move would totally be in reach for people in modest dwellings – as would the books. See the full story here.

Towering structured library made of 15 maple boxes - Home Library Ideas
Photo by Naomi Finlay – Home Library Ideas

5. More is More

When Catherine Osborne needed to solve her “book problem,” she turned to architect Luc Bouliane. He was full of home library ideas. He proposed a towering structure, made of 15 maple boxes that extend to the house’s rear entrance, to house her 1200 books. Rather than tame the collection, the offset boxes amplify the staggering number of spines that reach all the way up to the clerestory ceiling. See the full story here.

Home Library Ideas, mid century modern furniture in a library room lit by a new skylight.
Photo by Ben Rahn/A-Frame.

6. Book Nook

At the front of this mid-century bungalow, restored and renovated by LGA Architectural Partners, is a study filled with mod furniture, art and books. The library is lit by one of two new skylights, making this an ideal place to curl up with a good book. The Eames chair helps, also. Read the full story here.

Home Library Ideas, custom walnut staircase with built-in shelves
Photo by Naomi Finlay- Home Library Ideas

7. Custom Design

Even finished basements can be hard sells to bookworms looking for a bright place to read. The subterranean lair in designer and woodworker Bruce Lynn’s home features a custom walnut staircase with built-in shelves that infuses the space with warmth and intrigue: it’s only by descending the steps that one discovers the library. Read the full story here.

Living room with a custom teak shelving library, vintage rugs and a marble coffee table. Two people are sitting on chairs
Photo by Arash Moallemi – Home Library Ideas

8. Teak for Weeks

In Burlington, design-build firm Ben Homes re-visited mid-century modern – not the spare, minimalist iteration, but the colourful, texture-rich style that is too often forgotten about these days. The library follows suit, featuring custom teak shelving, vintage rugs and a marble coffee table, with plenty of lush greenery to boot. Read the full story here.

For more shelving ideas check out this article about Modern Shelving and Storage Options.


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