The September 12, 2008 issue of the Wall Street Journal featured an article about how libraries are coming back in style as a home feature. Uh, I guess I never got the memo that they went OUT of style. That just might mean I'm a bibliophile. -EditorReading rates are down and Americans say they love casual living. And yet, one of the most popular rooms in big new houses is a library. Rather than being about books, their appeal is often about creating a certain ambiance. "Libraries connote elegance and quality," says New York architect and interior designer Campion Platt, adding that most of his wealthy clients want one, even if they do most of their reading online. Donna AlbericoLibraries have become so fashionable that this month, talk-show host Oprah Winfrey featured the one in her Santa Barbara, Calif., home on the cover of her magazine; it contains first editions collected for her by a rare-book dealer.
In the latest annual National Association of Home Builders consumer survey, 63% of home buyers said they wanted a library or considered one essential, a percentage that has been edging up for the past few years. Many mass-market home builders are including libraries in their house plans, sometimes with retro touches like rolling ladders and circular stairs.
Jeani Ziering, an interior designer in Manhasset, N.Y., says the newfound popularity of libraries is part of a general movement toward traditional design and dicor. "When the economy turns bad, people turn to the classics," she says. Libraries are especially appealing during anxious times because they project coziness and comfort, she adds.
What can make libraries more soothing than other formal rooms isn't so much books but the framed family photographs, awards and mementos that share the shelves and define a family's interests and identity, says McLean, Va., architect Chris Lessard. "They're memory rooms," he says. Because libraries are public rooms, oftentimes the books are purely decorative and don't say as much about the family who lives there. The books that people really read, like paperback novels and how-to guides, often are kept out of sight elsewhere in the home.
Still, some homeowners are book lovers. Michael Burkitt and his wife, Roberta, own an estimated 9,000 books, all hardbound, which they keep in two formal libraries in their new, 5,800-square-foot home in Reno, Nev., and their 3,800-square-foot vacation house in Newport Coast, Calif. Mr. Burkitt, 65, the recently retired co-owner of a structural-plastics firm, says he's been too busy working most of his life to read even a fraction of them. But he enjoys relaxing among them in what he considers his "sanctuaries" -- one paneled in dark wood, the other in white -- free from distractions like computers. "They're the wombs of my homes," he says.
To read the complete article, see: Why Libraries Are Back in Style (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122117550854125707.html)
So what does YOUR home library look like? Share a photo with us! Here are shots of mine circa 2004, before my move from Pittsburgh. -Editor
To view full-size versions of the photos, see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/coinbooks/2868776973/sizes/l/
Wayne Homren, Editor
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