From striking aluminum shelving to traditional wood bookshelves, these home libraries make us want to start a book club
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 — often. 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.
1 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.
2 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.
3 An 18th-century grandfather clock, by Silas Merriman of Philadelphia, stands outside the walnut-clad library in furniture designer Tom Deacon’s ecclectic 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.
4 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. So the library in the hallway, placed by designer Alison Milne, makes perfect sense. This move would totally be in reach for people in modest dwellings — as would the books.
5 When Catherine Osborne, the former editor of our sister publication, Azure, needed to solve her “book problem,” she turned to architect Luc Bouliane. 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.
6 At the front of this midcentury bungalow, restored and renovated by LGA Architectural Partners, is a study filled with mod furniture, art and books. The room 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.
7 Even finished basements can be hard sells to bookworms looking for a bright place to read. But 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.