Henry Ward Beecher quipped, “A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.” He was speaking of public libraries but I feel just as strongly that having a “room of one’s own” at home is as essential as having books housed miles away. And it’s not only volumes bringing on the thrill of discovery that the well-appointed library needs, it should represent the tastes of its owners stylistically. As we move toward a new year, I’m bringing together products that I believe would inhabit a dream library befitting 2016.
The Well-Appointed Library
To begin my search for futuristic treasures, I pulled a counterintuitive move by looking back, canvasing the Appley Hoare Antiques website for delightful finds. I met the brilliant antiques dealer when I attended The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair in London last April—hers was my favorite booth. The 2016 winter edition of the shopping event comes to life in Battersea Park from January 19-24; it’s difficult to believe that the show is now less than a month away, but time is galloping along!
Accessories for Your Bookshelves
This 19th-century bust of the Greek Goddess Athena would be tops on my list. The virgin Goddess of wisdom, courage, justice and war in Greek Mythology has always been one of my favorites. Her father was Zeus, after all: the one Greek God you didn’t want to mess with unless you harbored a death wish! Appley Hoare says of the statue, “This excellent rendition would have been cast in the latter part of the 19th century to display in a museum, probably the Louvre.” The socle is 19cm in diameter and the rest of the dimensions are 54cm (21.3″) high by 32cm (12.6″) wide (at its widest point) by 27cm (10.6″) deep.
What bauble doesn’t look more charming under glass? This collection of Victorian domes, which were originally used for taxidermy and specimens, has offerings in two sizes: the large is 52cm high and the medium is 46cm high.
There’s no horsing around when it comes to the cloistered time I spend in my study-come-library but this French papier maché horse, circa 1900, with its primitive but charming demeanor would look wonderful peering from one of my shelves. The dimensions are 64cm (25.2″) high by 63cm (24.8″) wide by 20cm (7.9″) deep.
Spell stylistic success with these 19th-century zinc letters from some clever French boutique. They come in two sizes: the large are 30cm (11.8″) high by 27cm (10.6″) wide by 8cm (3.1″) deep and the small measure 20cm high by 20cm wide by 8cm deep. The letters Appley Hoare has available are: T (3), U, N, E (2), I, V and R.
A Lamp with a Long Shelf Life!
It’s not too often I truly covet products but I seem to always come away from trips to view Currey & Company’s new releases with unbridled desires. This was the case when I saw the Oldknow Bookcase Lamp, which slides into your shelves just like a book would but acts as the luminary it is.
The 16″ high lamp is made of polished concrete and wrought iron with an aged steel finish. The shade is off white linen. It’s available through a variety of online shops, including Lumens.
Don’t Forget the Bookends!
To wrap today, I thought I’d share an array of bookends I’ve found that will steady your tomes in a variety of styles. Bergdorf Goodman has the remarkable set of Amethyst bookends above to bring the elemental power of nature into your reading room. Handcrafted of natural amethyst and polished aluminum by Rab Labs, they may vary slightly in color and form due to the natural amethyst material.
Barneys sells these Ginger Brown bookends (above) handcrafted of wood covered in Antic (ivory) shagreen and beige parchment. They measure 6.5” long by 1.25” wide by 6.5” high. For the crystal lover, Bloomingdales has a set of Waterford London bookends (not shown) that are leaded and lean. And Neiman Marcus has L’Objet’s dazzling Snake bookends (not shown) made of marble and 24-karat gold-plated brass for the seeker of luxury.
Bring a Moby Dick moment into your library with the Victorian Whale bookends from Anthropologie. The sand-casted iron sculptural pieces are playful and oh-so-apropos for a budding novelist. If you’re fond of the ubiquitous quotation mark, the retailer also has a brushed aluminum version of the grammatical symbol (not shown) to hold your books in a citation-like embrace. And for the horsey set, what better homage than Ralph Lauren Home’s Derbyshire Stirrup bookends (not shown), which are silver-plated with an anti-tarnish finish and have smart saddle-leather details just where you’d expect them to be.
Shown in the images above and below are the King and Queen Chess bookends and the Aristotle and Homer bookends, both sets available on Amazon. Other kicky designs the mega-distributor offer: the ultra-contemporary Hero, the mythical Toscano Arthurian Knights, and a fabulous nod to Poe in the Raven bookends.
I wish I’d had a set of the Studious Rabbit bookends (below) as a child; I think I would have pulled books from the shelves more often just to say hello to them!
Those who know me well are privy to the fact I’ve been known to pop a cork or two so it will be of no surprise to them that Lillian Vernon’s scrolled wine bottle holder bookends, made of antique-finished metal, (not shown) caught my eye. And last but by no means least, bring a burst of growing energy into your library or study with Swedish brass planters (in small and large) from Kaufmann Mercantile in the surprising material sleuthing as the traditional terra cotta pot!
Text of The Well-Appointed Library © design blogger Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon Henry is an author, poet and journalist based in New York City. Books include Anywhere But Here, Stranded on the Road to Promise and Four Florida Moderns. She also maintains The Diary of an Improvateur as a platform for her literary travel and design adventuring, and is a columnist on Architizer. Saxon will be leading a workshop at the Design Bloggers Conference in March titled “How to Make Your Writing Sing.”