“Where do people put all of their books?”
I was on the phone with a client a few weeks ago, a woman who’d not long ago relocated to a home in Calabasas, a house architecturally and spatially the complete antithesis of her and her family’s former home in San Diego. Lamenting its lack of storage but lauding its unbelievable views, she simultaneously bemoaned the current status of her book collection, most of which remained in boxes since last fall and were generally dispossessed due to a lack of shelves, as well as solid walls on which to moor said shelves. As we talked, she desperately implored with genuine perplexity,“But, seriously, where do people put all of their books?”
I get it. There are countless Pinterest images of modern, clean, spartan spaces with empty walls and uncluttered surfaces and maybe a single vase of flowers on the coffee table. Who doesn’t gravitate towards that simplicity and minimalist beauty at times? It’s beguiling.
But as a book lover, as well as a lover of art, sculptures, ceramics, and randomly accrued, beloved bibelot, I find the concept of pure minimalism virtually impossible as a way of living. I get it - I mean, I’m fully aware loads of books take up loads of physical space. They’re a commitment to your lifestyle and how you live and what you see, everyday. You can comfortably store over a thousand books on your Kindle. You can move them around on the magical Cloud. You can thereby keep your walls free of everything books have the power to produce - dust, disarray, and excess.
But, physically, tangibly, they also have the power to produce something much, much greater - nostalgia, romanticism, tactile memories of a past gone by, glorious marginalia, and the connectivity we feel living amongst all of these characters, both fictitious and real. Books give your home a sense of intimacy and individuality. How we live ought to, ideally, reflect the design of our spaces, whether they’re for work or play or both, so if you’re a book lover, we say you should proudly embrace and display those bound pages upon pages of stories, histories, poetry, and prose. Just please don’t ever do this or this because these exemplify pure heathenry and I’m pretty sure your books will hate you forever and try to murder you in your sleep for either of these actions.
Here are some Lily Spindle design tips for those fellow book lovers among us:
#1) Don’t be afraid to go to the ceiling with your shelves. Aim high! Reach for the stars, so to speak! The taller you reach, the taller your ceilings and the more expansive your rooms will feel (we realize it’s counterintuitive, but trust us).
#2) Low bookshelves can give structure to a space (i.e. separating a living from dining area or floating common space surrounding the two) while also providing the obvious: book storage. Bonus: you can use the surface area on top for more books! Or plants, framed photographs, ceramics, et al.
#3) It’s not just the monsters who live under the stairs - it’s some of the best little reading nooks we’ve ever seen! These typically vacant spaces can be utilized as mini-library/reading rooms, especially if you’ve got small children who haven’t seen the referenced film and can comfortably hang out underneath a staircase.
#4) Get some good lighting on them, if possible. A well-placed sconce or two can make bookshelves come to life.
#5) Mix some art and ceramics into your bookshelves if you want to break up the uniformity of the collection. Or keep it simple with solely all books, but vary your vertical and horizontal placement. Or don’t! All books standing tall is irrefutably excellent, too.
And never EVER be ashamed of that disorganized book pile on your nightstand. It’s a testament to your curiosity about the world, your imagination, and your love of the written word. And that, in and of itself, is a THING OF BEAUTY!
Hope these rooms, corners, libraries, hallways and a bathroom (!) get your bookworm hearts a-pumpin’ and inspired!
xx - Rebecca