Design Trend: Home Libraries

My very first Home Style post, seen here, featured a beautiful display of color coordinated bookshelves in a casual chic living room. I created that post on November 3, 2013. In the year since then, that post has become the single most popular post on my blog. It has traveled all over Pinterest and been picked up by other blogs where it continues to attract attention. The enthusiasm surrounding those color coordinated bookshelves suggests that, despite the transition to e-books, blogs, and e-zines, our deep-rooted love for actual paper books remains. Personally, I have always been enamored with libraries and the history and possibility contained within. With that in mind, I’m highlighting a few of my favorite bookshelf trends.

black bookshelf yellow sofa

Bookshelf Trend #1: Dark Shelves, Bright Furniture

I’m clearly not the only person who loves this particular trend. Black or dark bookshelves contrasted by chartreuse sofas and chairs (not just any color – it always seems to be chartreuse) are taking home libraries by storm. The refinement of dark shelves pays tribute to traditional library style, while the bright furniture jolts the room with energy and modernity. The colorful mix of books pops against the contrast of the dark paint for a look that is far from old-fashioned.

dark bookshelves

black bookshelves chartreuse sofa

Bookshelf Trend #2: Artwork on Bookshelves

Look at the images above and below and you will notice artwork in every one. Framed paintings, prints, and photographs are either inserted into the shelf cubbies themselves, or hung on the front edge of the shelves. The art serves as a visual respite from the continuity of books, allowing your eyes to rest and relax. Do you have less attractive items that you’d like to store on the shelves, but you don’t want to disturb the beauty of the display? Hide them behind the hanging art! That beautiful painting takes on the role of cabinet door, concealing the contents behind it.

art in bookshelf nook

art in bookshelf cubby

art hanging on bookshelf

Bookshelf Trend #3: Shelves Built into Passageways

Space is limited. A wonderful (and practical) way to display your collection of books is by utilizing empty space in doorways, entryways, and hallways. By sacrificing one or two feet against an otherwise unused wall, you gain organization, storage, and a decorative display. A few of my favorite uses of space include this bookshelf built around a wide passageway…

doorway bookshelf

these bookshelves lining both sides of a long hallway…

hallway bookshelves

these bookshelves built into the pony wall at the top of this stair landing…

stair landing bookshelves

and this recessed wall of shelves alongside a banquette and stairway.

entryway bookshelf

Bookshelf Trend #4: Library Ladders

What bookshelf review would be complete without the mention of library ladders!? These tall sliding ladders are both beautiful and functional, allowing you to maximize wall space from floor to ceiling and still access books on the highest shelves.

library ladder white bookshelves

chartreuse bookshelves

The range of options when designing a home library or simply styling a bookshelf are seemingly endless. It would be impossible to cover them all in one blog post. Built-in, free-standing, metal, wood, low, high, colorfully painted, back-painted, organized for a rainbow effect… One thing is certain: the more we turn towards tablets for our everyday reading, the more valuable our old books become. They are pieces of history: tangible, entertaining, and lovely to look at.

For more bookshelf inspiration visit my Pinterest page:

Photo Credits: Style Carrot, Sketch 42, Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, The Decorista, Daniel Farmer for House & Garden, Sadie and Stella, Style at Home, Most Beautiful Things, Ryann Ford Photography for FAB Architecture, Wendy Haworth Design, Little Green Notebook, Ciave Design

Design Trends: Gallery Wall

I’ve had an aversion to gallery walls for as long as I can remember.  As a child I would see displays of school photos and stiff family portraits in bland frames lining the halls and stairways of my friends’ homes, and I simply didn’t like them.  Even to my untrained 12-year-old eye, the rows of photos felt generic, monotonous and uninspired.  Well, I’m happy to announce that gallery walls have come a long way.  In fact, the creative and artistic gallery walls popping up all over Pinterest and in design magazines and blogs have inspired me so much that I’m working on one for my own home.

Emily Henderson gallery wall

Topping my list of fabulous gallery walls are designs by two of my current interior design crushes.  I absolutely love the work of Emily Henderson (above) and Angie Hranowsky (below).  The way they have used the entire wall, the array of bright colors, the contrast of scale and uneven layout, the perfectly imperfect mix of frames – the overall effect is splendid.  And of course their taste (or their client’s taste, as it may be) in art doesn’t hurt either.

Angie Hranowsky gallery wall

Of course, one need not be a regular on the contemporary art scene to have a beautiful gallery wall.  Take a look at the two images below.  One is polished, the other rustic, but they both share characteristics of having casually mismatched appeal, as if the homeowner gathered all the frames, photos, and artwork over the course of years and then grouped them together.

Elle Decoration gallery wall polished gallery wall

If you are thinking of creating a gallery wall in your own home, don’t be afraid to think outside the box, as with the gallery created in the entryway below.  Diverse artwork covers opposing walls from floor to ceiling, the range of color enhanced by the lavender door at the end of the hall.  The collection is unique and eclectic, far from match-matchy, and yet every piece of art looks as if it belongs exactly there.

artwork gallery hallway

If the mismatched look is not for you, consider a more formal approach.  A gallery is simply a collection of artwork, photos, or objects.  Don’t over think it by trying to be more “eclectic” than you really are.  A haphazard layout may be the trend of the day, but a series of cohesive images perfectly centered and aligned can be just as nice.  I love the modern look of the linear gallery below, with the largest frame peeking up an inch or two above the rest.

linear gallery wall

Despite my distaste for the stiff portrait displays of my childhood, I do love a gallery of personal photos.  Family portraits, travel photos, and casual snapshots capture your history, your story, and your fondest memories.  The key to using personal photos is to select images with spontaneity, energy, and emotion.  If your iPhone pics capture the best moments of your life, print them out and put them in frames.  Likewise, if you don’t have any art, print and frame some of your favorite quotes.  Let your personality shine through.  I especially like a gallery wall with a few old baby photos mixed in.  They always lead to a good game of “guess who that is” when friends come to visit.

family photos gallery wall

Gallery walls are such a trend right now that you can even buy prepackaged sets.  A couple of options worth noting are the Gallery In a Box Frame Set (starting at $99 for an assortment of 4 matching frames that vary in size) from West Elm, and the the foolproof wall gallery sets from Red Envelope (starting around $60), which feature an assortment of frames already arranged on a ready-to-hang rod.  For an inexpensive DIY layout, I love the range of sizes and shapes in the Ikea Ribba series.  Although a bit more expensive, Pottery Barn has a great selection of frames in luxurious neutrals like linen and gilt, as well as another Gallery in a Box option ($149 for a set of 6 frames, $199 for a set of 10).

quotes gallery wall

Once your images and frames are chosen, do a trial run before attempting to nail them to the wall.  I suggest placing all of your frames on the floor in front of the wall so that you can easily rearrange the layout until it feels just right.  If you are a perfectionist, you can take your planning one step further by cutting paper templates the exact sizes of each of your frames and using double sided tape to test the layout directly on the wall.  As you can see from the images above, an eclectic display doesn’t require precise measurements and spacing.  Have fun with the process, knowing that whether it is a collection of art, personal photos, or both, it is uniquely yours.

For more gallery wall inspiration visit my Pinterest page:

Photo Credits: Style by Emily Henderson, Angie Hranowsky, Elle Decoration, Pretty & Fun, Fauxology,  Quirky Gastro, Better Homes & Gardens, Bloomingville