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Designing Your Home Library

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I have always loved books, and I can spend endless hours in and around books. If you have your own personal collection of books, whether first editions or comic books, you want to keep track of them, ensuring you can find the one you want, and they stay in good condition.  Here are a few ideas for organizing, caring for and enjoying your own library.

What is your style?

It is very difficult to keep all the books we want to keep, even if they do make you feel smarter.  Select books to keep in your home that hold special meaning for you — let go of the other ones. Once you’ve decluttered your library, choose a method for organizing them. For example:

  • Bookstore-style. Sort your nonfiction books by subject matter, i.e. gardening, travel, health and wellness, etc.  Next, sort your fiction books alphabetically by author. This method works well and makes it easy to find just what you are looking for.
  • By Theme. If you are a creative type, this might be fun for you. Pick a theme (like Italy) and gather all books related to this topic. This could include cookbooks (Italian cooking) to fiction (Under the Tuscan Sun) to nonfiction (Italian Renaissance Art).
  • By Color.  Organize your books based on the color of the spine.

Sorting by color

This method may be just right for some, and is easy to do.  Matching books by color will give your library a clean, organized look and it is visually pleasing and impressive.  If you want to try it, collect only one color at a time, arranging by height or desired look.  You can probably get the entire project completed within a few hours, and you will enjoy the process of colorfully designing your library. Here are a few ideas as you begin:

If your book spines are mostly one color and you don’t have much variation, choose some colorful paper and make your own book covers.  You can create any color palate you want, and it will look appealing.

If you have certain colors that really don’t work well with the colors you have chosen, put them all on one shelf, cover them with covers, or put them in a crate next to the bookshelves.

If you aren’t sure what color to add, try one row or two of color-sorted books and see what a visual statement it makes.  You’re going to love the results!

Coffee Table and other large books

Consider laying them flat, not standing up, to reduce wear and tear on the spines. Be sure to stack them with smallest books on top and largest on the bottom; you want to be sure the books are completely supported by the one underneath. And remember, large books are very heavy, so be sure to keep your piles manageable so you can actually get to the ones on the bottom.

Use a bookstand for heavy and oversized books 

Find a book shelf, piece of furniture or accent piece which can serve as your big book display.  This calls attention to your special books, and allows you to feature a different book every weeks or two.   And, if you need a pop of color, consider adding a colorful book cover or bookmark.

Change up your books to spark new interests and new décor ideas

Now that your books are neatly ordered, by which ever method appeals to you, be sure to read them — but what’s the point of having all those fabulous books  if you don’t get them out and read them or share them with others? If you find your books gathering dust and not being read, pull some books from your library that interest you and put them somewhere that will make them call to you – my favorite spots for books are on the coffee table and on  my nightstand.  Books are always a great accessory to any room and any décor.

Make those covers work for you

Have you ever noticed how a bookstore displays their books?  The good stores make arrangement visually interesting and appealing so the cover draws you in.  Use this same technique at home, displaying books with covers facing out, interspersed with other books or knick-knacks.

Rare Books and First Editions

Many individuals love collecting rare editions and antique books.  These gems need special care and precautions to ensure they will remain in good condition and hold their value. Your most treasured books will need the following care:

  • Sunlight bleaches covers, so keep books away from direct sunlight.
  • Don’t jam your books in, they should slide easily in and out of place.
  • Your largest and heaviest books should be stored lying flat.
  • Don’t force the spine of a book to open.  Open it only as far as it gives naturally.
  • Paper absorbs dirt and grease – wash your hands before handling.

Bring the bookstore home! 

A great way to attract kids to books is to bring home a bookstore-style rack and fill it up.  For the reluctant reader, this bookstore approach is fun and interesting.  Be sure to display a variety of books, even ones that are a bit advanced, to entice little fingers to explore and read.

The ceiling is the limit – up, up, and away  

Don’t have room for a library?  Check out the vertical shelving that’s so popular these days.  Crates, boxes and wooden accessories are being used to create storage for books.  Make sure you balance the books so they don’t fall over, stacking by weight and size.  A rule of thumb is to stack no more than 6-8 books on one shelf.

So you don’t have room for a bookshelf…

Show off your books by grouping them together with a snappy pair of bookends. Use the colored spine method to add a pop of color to the room and draw an eye to your collection.  You can always lay books flat, stacking them on one end as a bookend.  Use a pretty vase or favorite accessory to finish the display.  Just be sure the accessory you use if heavy enough to hold the books in case they want to slide

Inspiration between the pages

When I need a spark of creativity or inspiration, I look through books, sometimes ones that are not at all related to the topic I’m working on.  Sometimes changing up your focus or interest for even five minutes can refresh the mind and bring about new ideas or direction.  Keep favorite books near your work area, and don’t be afraid to take a short “book nap” when needed.

Commentary By: Rebecca Firestone – Realty ONE Group Unlimited 

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