Is it naff to colour-code your books? A home library is the new middle-class boast.

Whether you prefer to organise your books in cheerful rainbow order, in piles of decreasing size or favour the divisive ‘spines-inwards’ trend to present a minimalist canvas of crisp white pages, there’s no doubt the ‘shelfie’ is having a moment.

Social media is full of snaps from proud bookworms sharing their oh-so-aesthetically pleasing shelves, or discussing their new literary favourites in TikTok’s popular ‘BookTok’ community.

And with sales of books soaring and the number of independent bookshops at a ten-year high, it seems there has never been a better time to embrace the latest interior must-have: a home library.

As an interior designer (, I’m witnessing at first hand the boom in demand for home libraries — and you can create one, too.

Emma’s top tip! 

If you don’t have enough books to fill a library, there are firms who’ll provide them for you. 

I use Ultimate Library ( 

You can even choose to have book spines in colours that match your decor 

When most people picture a library, they imagine row upon row of books standing in columns from floor to ceiling. Yet today’s home libraries are chic, restful, organised and intriguing.

Best of all, you don’t need an entire room to do so. A library can easily be incorporated into an existing space within your living or dining room, a corridor or that boxroom full of clutter.

In my home in Wiltshire, we installed a bespoke library on an overhanging wall that borders the open-plan sitting room and kitchen, filling what would otherwise have been a blank space with an eye-catching feature.

For me, a home without books lacks warmth. So even if your collection only stretches to one stack, take a moment to think about how best to arrange them. I promise they’ll give you far more enjoyment and satisfaction than how you position your TV.

Here, five women open up their lovely libraries . . .

Not one, but three libraries!

With more than 15,000 books in her collection, Seni Glaister has not one, but three libraries in the converted outbuildings of her Sussex farmhouse.

‘The main one is the ground floor of a barn we grandly call The Library,’ says Seni, 55, who’s married with four children.

She is founder and CEO of Litalist, an online community where members can recommend and discover books and keep a record of everything they’ve read.

Seni Glaister has three libraries in her Sussex farmhouse. She is the CEO of Litalist, where members can keep a record of everything they have read 

‘I’ve been involved in books throughout my life: as a reader, collector, bookseller and most recently as the author of three novels. I read Enid Blyton as a child and Jilly Cooper and Barbara Taylor Bradford in my teens — those were the authors who made me a devoted reader.’

A second outbuilding is library to 3,000 orange and white Penguin classics, while a third is devoted to several thousand children’s books.

‘I’m more rigorous about how I keep my books than anything,’ says Seni. ‘Everything is in alphabetical order; there’s nothing remotely haphazard about it.’


Snobs may scoff, but I love the rainbow look!

As the best-selling author of 22 novels, it’s perhaps no surprise that Adele Parks has a spacious library at her six-bedroom home.

‘When we built the house 11 years ago, we each chose one room that we wanted incorporating into the design,’ says Adele, 53, who lives in Surrey with her husband Jim, 51, a web designer, and son Conrad, 22. 

‘Jim chose a cinema, Conrad wanted a gym and I picked a library.’

Adele Parks likes the rainbow look for her bookshelves and relies on her husband's photographic memory to help her find titles

Adele Parks likes the rainbow look for her bookshelves and relies on her husband’s photographic memory to help her find titles 

Measuring five metres by five metres, the library contains 1,500 books, has dark walls and large, double-aspect windows. 

‘Filing the books according to the colour of their spines is considered twee by many but creates a lovely rainbow effect,’ Adele says. 

‘It makes zero sense when trying to find something specific, but thankfully Jim has a photographic memory and can always pin down what I’m looking for!’

‘The library’s cabinetry has taller shelves at the bottom for coffee-table books and photo albums, while paperbacks sit higher up. Among my most treasured books are those which were gifted and signed by fellow authors, often when I’ve appeared alongside them on a panel at a literary festival,’ explains Adele, whose latest novel, One Last Secret, is out now.

‘There are also a lot of copies of Emma by Jane Austen, my favourite classic.’


My haven with secret double doors 

When former florist Maria Jones and her husband bought their cottage in Felpham, West Sussex, three years ago, she earmarked the old dining room as a library for her collection of ‘a thousand or so’ books.

‘I decided to create a proper library where I could indulge my love of reading and have all my books in one place,’ says the 52-year-old mother of three.

Maria Jones and her husband splashed out £10,000 on cabinetry for their large collection, which are filed alphabetically

Maria Jones and her husband splashed out £10,000 on cabinetry for their large collection, which are filed alphabetically 

‘We invested £10,000 in bespoke cabinetry, which includes secret double doors that are part of the bookshelves but — to everyone’s delight — push open to reveal the garden room.’

Maria, whose books are filed alphabetically by section, including vintage, fiction and subjects such as cookery and interior design, adds: ‘The secret doors are a nod to my love of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe as a child.’


My £5,000 sanctuary 

English teacher Marie Kimberley describes her home library as her ‘retreat’.

Located in an ‘odd-shaped nook’ within the open-plan lounge of her home, she says it might otherwise have been a small office or dead space.

For those without a dedicated room, an 'odd-shaped nook' such as the one utilised by Marie Kimberly can offer a retreat

For those without a dedicated room, an ‘odd-shaped nook’ such as the one utilised by Marie Kimberly can offer a retreat 

‘The library is the heart of our home and the children come and perch on the arms of my chair and ask me: ‘Mummy, what are you reading?’ says Marie, who lives in Worcestershire with her sons and husband.

The £5,000 cabinets hold around 600 books, filed in categories such as education, psychology and classic literature.


3,000 books all organised A-Z

‘I think my husband would have disowned me if I had organised my books by colour!’ laughs Susan Roe, who came up with the idea of transforming a cosy nook under a double archway in their Norfolk home into a library.

The couple eventually settled on filing their collection of 3,000 books alphabetically, paying a local retired boat-fitter £3,000 to build the solid timber cabinetry Susan designed, and choosing to paint it in Farrow & Ball Smoke Green.

Susan Roe repurposed her games room into a library-cum-sitting room, with a traditional ladder for reaching the higher shelves

Susan Roe repurposed her games room into a library-cum-sitting room, with a traditional ladder for reaching the higher shelves 

‘We’d had it as a games room with a snooker table when we first renovated the house,’ says Susan, who has two daughters. 

‘However, it didn’t get much use, so I decided to turn it into a sitting room with a library.

‘I’ve got everything from Dickens to Marian Keyes, as well as books that belonged to my granny, parents and in-laws and my husband’s veterinary textbooks,’ she adds.

‘Our granddaughter loves to hold my hand while she climbs the little ladder to look at all the books that her mummy read as a child.

‘It’s my favourite room in the house, and the one to which all of my visitors seem to gravitate.’


500 books look great sorted by colour

When Kelly Pike and her husband first viewed their 18th-century cottage near Bristol last spring, it was the existing 90-year-old library that was the clincher. ‘Having worked in book publishing for 20 years, it’s long been my dream to have a library,’ says Kelly, 41, who’s married to Henry, 43, a solicitor. They have three children Rafferty, nine, Liberty, seven, and Rufus, four.

‘I’d had to stop buying books until then as we’d run out of space to store them, but now my eclectic collection of 500-plus books have a lovely new home.’

Kelly’s first job was renovating the library – making good the ‘wobbly’ timber shelving, decorating and investing £2,500 in a luxurious sofa, positioned in front of the open fire.

‘It was an extravagance but what is a library without somewhere sumptuous to curl up and read?’ Kelly adds. ‘I love being able to run my fingers along the shelves of books and pick something out.

‘They’re organised by colour, something purists look down upon, though I think they look wonderful!’