Elegant Library Elegant Library

January is a great time of the year to come inside, turn on the lights, and cuddle up with a good book to wait out the storm. So to start off the New Year, we've chosen this elegant library as our Room of the Month, which we'll analyze using the Sheffield Guidelines to Interior Design: function, mood, and harmony.

First, let's look at the mood of this room, because it's so powerful and so perfectly achieved. The mood is here certainly one of quiet concentration. When you want a room that will help you to concentrate, consider using a monochromatic color scheme. The fewer colors there are, the less distracted the inhabitants will be.

Here, this is achieved with the light pine walls and bookshelves, the way the shelves stretch so high up to the tall, sloped ceilings, the spiral staircase in the same wood, and the floor that's just a shade different from the rest. You can easily imagine settling in to read all afternoon in this room.

This room also manages to blend a modern look with an old-fashioned one. The blonde wood and the open spiral staircase give the impression of modernity; this room could have been designed by one of the modernist designers of 20th-century Scandinavia. The throw rug over the carpet, in a Navajo pattern, and the sloped ceilings, also enhance this modern side of the look.

But there is an old-fashioned look to this library as well, with the ceiling-high bookshelves, the library ladder, and the leather wing chair. The chandelier, a wooden sculpture made to look like elk antlers, also blends these old-fashioned and modern looks, as it recalls the antlers mounted over the mantles in many 1800s-era Western homes, but with a modern twist.

Let's look now at the function of the room. It's obviously a room for quiet study and contemplation, best suited for reading. To the far right of the room sits a long, soft sofa, in a green and pale brown which matches the wing chair, so more than one person can have a leisurely read, and a reader could even stretch out on the sofa.

Note too the television to the left. It's mounted on a swivel tray that pulls out from the shelving, so that it can be turned toward the sofa, or to the chairs situated to the far left of the photo.

Another function of this room is for entertaining. Note the two champagne glasses on the coffee table; there's enough surface space, and there are enough chairs, so that a few people could meet here to discuss books or just to socialize.

Finally, the harmony of this room works beautifully. Even though the room's success depends upon a blend of two distinct looks - modern and old-fashioned - nothing seems out of place here. The monochromatic tones are interrupted only by the forest green of the chair, which is tonally close enough to the wood to not be jarring. The same is true with the colors in the throw rug, all of which are in the same tonal group as the wood and the carpet.

Looking at this room, it's easy to imagine cozying up with a book or a few friends, while the snow comes down on the skylights, enjoying the peace and quiet of winter from the warmth of the indoors.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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