November 1, 2007

Carleton Varney, Part X - Books in Decorating

It's been a while since I've done a Carleton Varney post, and since I just saw the book buried under some art I've been working on, I thought I'd see what he has to say.
Well, thank god I wasn't one page earlier, or you would have gotten Decorating the Ethel Merman Way. That's just too scary to ponder. Instead, the magic book opened to a page titled Books Are Great Guns in Decorating. At first I thought he was going to talk about a gun room, and that had me worried. Carleton says that books add great personality to every room in your house. He says a good size is 36"wide, 12" deep and 60" high.
Of course, I totally agree with Carleton on this one. There isn't a room in my house without books, except maybe the bath. I only have two book cases right now, but am planning on getting one or two more when I finish my office/guestroom. I like to keep books in stacks around the house. With the Book Thing so conveniently located, I can try books out for size, and keep them if I like them. Anything I don't want to keep, either goes back to Book Thing or to the Goodwill.
This is from a NYSD interview with Charlotte Moss. NYSD:"What are the warning signs indicating clients you don’t want to work with?" CM: "Bad shoes. Polyester napkins. A ‘library’ with no books. Very wealthy people who are not philanthropically inclined." I couldn't agree more! That's her library above.

The house where I grew up had a library with a fireplace and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves which my father built for his book collection. Unfortunately, the people who bought our after we moved ripped them out. Obviously, illiterates. It does give me pause when I see houses with either no books at all, or "books by the yard" bought specifically for decoration.
This is the amazing David Easton's bedroom, lined books and some objects to break up the lines. He says "I have more than 4000 books – that’s a plea for help! It's like having 4000-plus friends entertain, educate and give you comfort. Books have given me great solace in looking to the past. I have books in almost any category, from history, religion, architectural, furniture, travel and reference materials."

Images: New York Social Diary, Designer Series. Click on each image to read an interview with the designer.


  1. I couldn't agree more! I am getting the bookshelves put together for my new "studio" and cannot wait to fill them with my books. They look very lonely and skeletal without them!

  2. Books in a room make me comfortable. Although at my house there are rooms with far too many books. One of these days we'll finally have our floor to ceiling bookcase put in.

  3. Agree completely. I always find it very strange when I go into a house that doesn't have any books. It's a very bad sign about the people who live there.

  4. There's nothing weirder than a house with no books. I've had to go to Half Price Books and buy their books by the book just to flesh out bookcases because I hate bookcases without books!!! I even once had a client who questioned the actual books in a book by the box buy. I'm like - oh sure, NOW you're going to start reading? So ridiculous. Great post, love Easton's room, never saw that image before.

  5. books create a comfort zone for me. i agree.


  6. a writer friend visits her son's home and writes me on her laptop:
    "I am staying in a house without books...tell me where I went wrong!" I can't imagine a house without books. And even if I did ever buy books by the box or yard, I'd end up reading every one of them. A very few times in my life I have ended up staying in a guest room or a home with no books. I'm ready to go. I have to read every night before going to sleep. I read on my lunch. I'd rather have a new bookcase than a new wardrobe.

  7. ^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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