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Are bookshelves still relevant today?

With literary festival season well underway, it’s safe to say that we are still a nation of bookworms. What has changed is the way we access the written word, with many of us choosing to read on digital devices rather than buying books. So what of the bookshelf? Does it still have a place in the home?

For centuries, a library has been a quintessential part of an English country home, designed to showcase the sheer magnitude of a book collection; a demonstration of education and cultural sophistication. For those who live in larger country houses this is still very much the case. Equally, many newly built country houses are designed with specially designated area for books, be it a library, study or part of the more general living space.

The real change has been within more urban homes, particularly in smaller properties. While bookshelves themselves have proved resilient, their purpose is altering. No longer just within the domain of functionality, they have emerged as a stylish feature.

Savills Interior Services team has seen a marked increase in the number of clients asking for statement bookshelves. And rather than using them to store books, many owners are filling their shelves with decorative  items, such as globes, house plants or artwork.

The design of the bookshelf is also moving away from the traditional shelving unit. These days they might be constructed from distressed wood or made from an old ladder, and where space is at a premium they could be tucked away under the stairs or arranged around door frames. In fact, this trend even has its own hash tag, #Shelfie, with users on Instagram and Pinterest vying to have the most fashionable bookshelf and to gain inspiration. A big trend last year was the colour-coded bookshelf, which prompted people to go and buy books they had no intention of reading just to complete the design.

So, yes, the bookshelf definitely still has a place in the home – and many even have books on them.


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