Book Fetish

6 Gorgeous Home Library Aesthetics and How to Achieve Them

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Steph Auteri

Senior Contributor

Steph Auteri is a journalist who has written for the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, VICE, and elsewhere. Her more creative work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, under the gum tree, Poets & Writers, and other publications, and she is the Essays Editor for Hippocampus Magazine. Her essay, "The Fear That Lives Next to My Heart," published in Southwest Review, was listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2021. She also writes bookish stuff here and at the Feminist Book Club, is the author of A Dirty Word, and is the founder of Guerrilla Sex Ed. When not working, she enjoys yoga, embroidery, singing, cat snuggling, and staring at the birds in her backyard feeder. You can learn more at and follow her on Insta/Threads at @stephauteri.

I have long dreamed of having my own home library. Something with wall-to-wall built-in shelving. A blue velvet chaise lounge. Shabby chic end tables and vibrantly colored accent pieces and a card catalog cabinet for — I don’t know. Reasons.

Instead, I have my cluttered home office. Instead of built-ins, my bookcase is a china cabinet I snagged on the cheap from HomeGoods. Instead of a chaise lounge, I have the POÄNG armchair from IKEA. The vibe is more rustic industrial than shabby chic, and there’s nary a card catalog cabinet in sight.

Still, it’s mine and I love it.

No matter what you’re working with — dedicated library space or home office or that one corner of your bedroom — you can still create a home library that feels you.

My own aesthetic is sex-positive, embroidery-obsessed cat lady. What’s yours?

I love to look to Instagram for home library inspiration, and I still occasionally update my space with new knick-knacks and pieces of art. So if you’re looking for ideas, here are some recommendations for achieving various bookish home library aesthetics.

Victorian-Era Mystery

This isn’t my usual decorative vibe, but I don’t hate how it’s giving me those Sherlock feels:

I could totally see myself hiding out in this home library, tucked into that leather, wingback chair, running my hands over the leather-bound books as I daydream of being swept into a passionate embrace by Andrew Scott’s Moriarty.

My god, do I need to rewatch the series now?? ::starts fanning herself::

You can gussy up your own Victorian-era home library with accent pieces like this pretty porcelain tea set ($195+):

a photo of a black gold porcelain tea set with illustrations of cats, bats, moths, and a crow in the cups

…or this antique oil lamp ($73):

a photo of an antique oil lamp

World Traveler

I am also not a world traveler. In fact, I am a full-on, indoorsy, reclusive homebody. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a look that makes people envy your obviously adventurous life:

Or, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the cat.

Either way, all you need to recreate this look are some antique travel trunks. These hand-painted trunks are $292 and up, which is a bit rich for my blood, but aren’t they pretty?

a photo of hand-painted antique travel trunks

But there are less pricey options to be found, like this vintage suitcase (on sale for $68):

a photo of blue vintage luggage

And what about a retro-looking globe for good measure ($40)?

a photo of a retro globe

Top it all off with a curated selection of travel memoirs and you’re set!

Dark Academia

Fellow Book Rioter Tika Viteri already designed a dark academia reading room more capably than I ever could, but still, I can’t help gushing over this home office with its sloping walls, its typewriter, and that skull just tucked in there for added ambiance:

And what I love even more is this other take on dark academia, with its pinned moths and butterflies in dark frames, its cluster of crystals, its flipping cabinet of literal curiosities (GIMME!), and its generally witchy vibes:

Anyway. Display cabinets abound on Etsy, but I find that I prefer the antique letterpress trays with slots in different sizes. These trays can totes be hung on your wall. This vintage shadow box is $68:

a photo of a wooden tray with small compartments, some filled with shells

After you pick out one of your own, you could fill it with tiny skulls, like this rook skull ($33):

a photo of a rook skull

And you can get an assortment of tiny crystals. My favorite is amethyst ($7):

a photo of amethyst clusters

For elsewhere in your home library, perhaps you could invest in some preserved honeycomb in a glass cloche ($25):

a photo of preserved honeycomb and bees in glass cloche

…and maybe some agate bookends ($62):

a photo of agate bookends

But for sure check out Tika’s post for more ideas.

Comic Nerd

Moving in a completely different direction, let’s all take a moment to acknowledge the awesomeness of this comic nerd’s dream library:

That decoupaged coffee table! That effing wallpaper! Sure, you could clutter your bookshelves with a bunch of Funko Pops and call it a day (and I certainly have my share of Funko Pops). But this shit is next level.

There’s a remarkably large selection of comics-themed wallpaper on Etsy, which I was previously unaware of. But I think this retro comics-inspired peel-and-stick wallpaper is my fave ($16+):

a photo of retro comics wallpaper

Like, what have I even been doing with my life??

I also highly recommend supporting your favorite comic artists by purchasing prints of their work, or maybe commissioning drawings from them when you see them at your local cons.


Okay, so maybe this aesthetic isn’t exactly bookish. But we all know there are a bunch of monsters out there organizing their books by color instead of being reasonable and organizing them by author’s last name. And damn if it doesn’t look good.

Like, how joyful is this?

You can add some extra pizzazz with rainbow bookends ($69):

a photo of wooden rainbow bookends

…these glittery rainbow shelf sitters ($7.99+):

a photo of glittery rainbow shelf sitters

…and/or these macrame wall hangings ($45+):

macrame wall hangings

P.S. I just added all of these items to my online shopping cart. Fuck.


I’m going to end with my favorite genre/aesthetic of all time: horror. Some examples I found on Insta include this one:

I don’t know. I think they could have gone further, though I did go looking for that skeleton sitting criss-cross applesauce ($25):

a photo of a seated skeleton

Then I saw this:

Hells yes.

You can find that one ($44) and other similarly creepy planters that I will soon be spending all my money on at Mayhem Made. (Seriously, though. I can’t decide which one I should get, so I think I need all of them? And I don’t even do plants.)

Also, I find that no horror-themed room can possibly be complete without a nod to the Kraken. I got my own tentacle-themed art from Bryan Fyffe after admiring his booth at NYCC. The two pieces of his I own are this one of Yog-Sothoth ($65):

a painting showing a mass of tentacles and eyes over a house at night

But there’s also plenty of tentacle-themed decor to be found on Etsy, like this apothecary jar ($84):

a photo of an apothecary jar with tentacles on the outside

…this device stand ($66):

a photo of an octopus device stand

…and this blown glass octopus ($138):

a phot of a blown glass octopus

Also, avert your eyes from these jawbone stands I’ve now decided I need ($8+). I don’t want my spouse to know how much money I’m spending over the course of writing this post.

a photo of 3d printed jawbone stands

Feeling inspired? Hungry for more? We have plenty of other goodies in our archives, like these 12 home library ideas, these gorgeous fantasy maps, and this selection of bookshelves.