Living with Books
Books are such magical devices. The very first time I remembered being utterly absorbed into a series of books was when I read The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis as a kid. Never before had I felt so completely transported to another world. It was exciting, fascinating, and sometimes scary, and I could not put those books down. I was a voracious – and rather indiscriminate – young reader, and devoured just about anything I could get my hands on. Thankfully, my parents took me along on their weekly trips to our city library, where I had my own card. After C.S. Lewis, I moved on in quick succession to Charles Dickens (not so much a fan), Jules Verne (intriguing), J.G. Ballard (inappropriate) and Agatha Christie (LOVED).
One of my favorite movies (and books) as a teenager was The Name of the Rose, written by Umberto Eco. It's a thrilling tale of murder and intrigue, set in a remote 1327 monastery. The spectacular labyrinthine medieval library and scriptorium plays a pivotal part in the story. Its set design – by the renowned Dante Feretti– was so well executed, I could practically smell the mixture of medieval inks, musty paper, beeswax candles, and leather-bound books.
Many years later, I marveled at the key role, played by the New York City Public Library in the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow – again, indiscriminate, I know... To stay warm, the survivors of a new ice age and the reluctant library personnel begin to burn some books in a fireplace. One hero employee is shown tightly holding onto a rare copy of the Gutenberg Bible—the first printed book in history—determined to save it from the flames. A key moment in the movie, as far as I am concerned.
Libraries are such magical places, filled with the promise of escape and adventure. That goes for the book collections in our own homes as well. No house is complete without at least one shelf or stack of paperbacks, tomes or volumes.
I am a firm believer in room-specific libraries: a collection of cookbooks in the kitchen, kids' books in the kids' rooms, and gardening books in the garage or the greenhouse. And why not a dining room-slash-library or a bathroom-slash-library?
My own design library is one of the few places in my house that is actually well-organized and color-coded, much like these nicely curated shelves. I've never really understood the point of a paper dust jacket, and love the look of brightly colored linen spines, embossed in gold or silver.
I only wish I had the space in my house for a dream library such as Nigella Lawson's (left) or even better: a library with a secret passage door! The image on the bottom row was taken at Highclere Castle, better know of course as the “real” Downton Abbey.
Books really don't look out of place in any part of the house as far as I'm concerned. Even book wallpapers, and book-themed decorative items can ground a space and add a touch of whimsy and substance.
Just recently, I took to writing my own book. It is called Scraps – Stylish Stash Fabric Crafts to Stitch (say that five times fast). Scraps is a collection of easy, affordable and stylish DIY projects that call for very little in terms of textile material. Many of the projects are no-sew or do not require a sewing machine. Here are a few teaser project images. Enjoy!