Country Living: Designing with books

Published 4:22 pm Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bookcases can be a part of any room, including a foyer, like this one at Faraway Farm. Interior design by Gillian Drummond. Photograph by Chris Bartol.

Bookcases can be a part of any room, including a foyer, like this one at Faraway Farm. Interior design by Gillian Drummond. Photograph by Chris Bartol.

By Gillian Drummond
Life in Our Foothills, February 2015

“He that loveth a book will never want a faithful friend,” proclaimed the 17th century British scholar, Isaac Barrow. I have found this to be a truth in my life as well as for many of my clients.

My mother gave me the gift of learning to read at the age of four and instilled in me the knowledge that books could take me on a journey to any country and any period in time. Books have enriched my life and my imagination. They are a constant inspiration for my design work.

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Living here in Tryon we are so lucky to have the number of bookstores that we do and the quality of the three local libraries. I have also found that there are many bibliophiles who have wonderful private libraries.

Book collectors often become almost obsessed — buying one volume, then another, and another – until they pile up, necessitating more bookshelves. In the past, many homes had rooms used solely as libraries. Many of these libraries were wood paneled with shelves built in on all available walls. Then they consisted of comfortable seating, good lighting and a warm and relaxing atmosphere, the perfect place to curl up and read for hours. In newer homes, bookshelves are often in a family room or great room. Wherever they are, they add color and interest to a room.

Working recently with a client, our whole inspiration for the design of their room came from a book about Venice. I noticed the book on my first visit lying on their coffee table. We got into a discussion about their love of the city and their fascination with all things Venetian. As the starting of point and the centerpiece for this elegant living room in an old house, we used a Fortuny fabric, which is so evocative of Venice.

Bookcases can be a part of any room, including cookbooks in a kitchen, magazines in a bathroom, books and a collection of china in a dining room, on either side of a fireplace in a living room, in a wall of built-in shelves with a TV and desk in a family room, or, as you can see in the photograph here, in an entrance foyer.

Books can enrich a room and a well-designed bookcase can add architecture to a room that doesn’t have any distinctive character. If you need book and storage space, the first step is to decide whether to build in your shelves or buy a readymade bookshelf from a furniture store, antique shop or mall. Both these solutions have their positive attributes.

Custom designed and made shelves allow the book collector to achieve the exact look and design to fit the exact space he wants to fill. This can be more costly than a store-bought bookcase, which may take some time to find and may not fit your space as well. Built-in bookcases can be built to be as simple or as ornate as your wants and needs prescribe. They can be as modern or as traditional as your interior warrants.

Books make wonderful accessories, bringing interest and color to any room. They can be piled next to a chair and used as a place to put down your drink, or as objects in a tabletop arrangement. Many real book lovers have library tables piled with books that they are reading or using for research.

My cocktail table is stacked with design books and magazines that I relax with at the end of my day. They are always a source of inspiration and rejuvenation for me. Pile the table beside your bed with the current books you are reading and you will feel like going to bed to relax and enjoy yourself. All these ways of using books in your decoration make your home much more colorful, personal and livable.

Gillian Drummond’s design studio is in Tryon, N.C. To learn more or to contact her, visit, email or call 828-859-9895.