Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fun with Books




Last week we had a lively discussion on how best to display books in one's library, books by the yard, display of figurines on bookshelves, etc. I think we came to the conclusion (or at least I did) that we agree to disagree.

Despite the fact that many libraries tend to be serious rooms, there's no reason why one can't add a little humor to them. To me, well-loved and well-worn libraries are already full of life, but what's the harm in having a little fun in them too?

The image above is of a library designed by Colefax & Fowler. Some of the bookcases in the room are real, functional bookcases with chicken wire mesh doors. But look closely at the section above- it's actually a trompe l'oeil painted panel that hides a jib door. The painting of the faux books and mementos is covered in chicken wire to make it look like the real bookcases. What clever subterfuge! Here is a blurry detail shot below.



Another clever trick is to be found in the library at Chatsworth. Instead of using trompe l'oeil painting to hide a door, the late Duke of Devonshire chose to inset faux books into a door. These "books" have all types of witty titles: "Consenting Adults" by Able N. Willing; "The Endless Road" by Wanda Farr; and "Venus Observed" by Sawyer.



Or, you can just paper a wall in books like Nina Campbell did using Brunschwig & Fils "Bibliotheque" paper. One of my all-time favorite prints, this paper would look great in a small room or hallway leading to the library or on blank walls in the library.


23 comments:

  1. I love the secret door aspect. Every library should have one.

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  2. djellabah12:09 PM

    Jib doors are such a great idea; I remember there was a beautiful one in the dining room of Evangeline and David Bruce's set at Albany in London. Do a post about jib doors!!!

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  3. djellabah- That's a great idea! I've always wanted a jib door. Off to consult my books for more images!

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  4. Anonymous1:38 PM

    I don't know what a jib door is, but it sounds like something the Hardy Boys would know how to defeat!

    -pt

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  5. Great post! I asked the skeptical Mrs. E. if we could somehow wall off the library to make a secret door.... No dice, although she let me down easy.

    Looking forward to the fruits of your research.

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  6. PT- Ha ha!

    E and E Life- That's too bad, but maybe if she saw these she might change her mind!

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  7. djellabah3:07 PM

    Other book-pattern wallpapers: (1) Bibliothèque by USA Wallpaper, http://www.usawallpaper.com/bib4parbookt.html; (2) S. A. Maxwell also makes one; (3) so does Waverley; (4) so does Pelican Prints. Oh, and the Brunschwig pattern was designed in 1989 (and released in 1990) by the trompe l'oeil artist Richard Neas. Curiously, the New York Times gave it a price of $158 a roll in 1990; today the price seems to be $550. There are also divine handprinted bookcase-pattern wallpapers by the British artist Deborah Bowness; called "Genuine Fake Bookshelf" and "Original Genuine Bookshelf", check the patterns out at http://www.deborahbowness.com/books.html.

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  8. djellabah- The USA Wallpaper one is a good, economical option (esp. since the B&F is rather pricey). I also found one over the weekend- I'll have to go back through my bookmarks to find it. The Bowness paper is fantastic!! Now that's really having some fun :)

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  9. I love silver book shaped boxes, too. I recently bought two antique ones in Dhaka. How fun to have all kinds of faux books!

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  10. Anonymous3:59 PM

    The elevators in the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto feature books behind glass doors, but if you look closely, you see that they have been sliced off so as to be only a couple of inches deep!

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  11. Maryam- Your boxes sound wonderful!!!

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  12. Anon- Now that is clever! And in the elevator too! If I ever find myself in Toronto I think I'll be making a trip to see the elevators ;)

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  13. Love the Chatsworth image.

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  14. You KNOW my feeling about books - the more the better!

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  15. Yes Fairfax, and if I had the Book Thing in Atlanta, my library would be bursting at the seams!

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  16. Anonymous5:36 PM

    Strangely, we haven't had any debates about REAL fake-book wallpaper versus FAKE fake-book wallpaper...

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  17. Anon- Oh, you're right! So... what's the consensus on this issue??!! ;)

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  18. What would fake fake-book wallpaper be? Just another interpretation of an idea?

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  19. I'm staying out of this one. I'm looking forward to your post on jib doors, though!

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  20. Love them all...especially the wallpaper. I've been wanting to do that for a while now!

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  21. Mademoiselle Loulou8:04 PM

    Depends on how sacred you hold books, and there will always be someone who feels strongly that every bound volume is sacred, whether it is a medical textbook or a third-rate novel. Personally I have no problem with real fake-book wallpaper (presumably this means the sliced-spine version). It is unlikely to become a worldwide phenomenon, so if, say, two dozen people around the world succumb to its lures, who is to complain? Again, it depends on the books used, yes? If it's a 12th printing of Taylor Caldwell's "This Too Shall Pass" that's being sliced and diced, I'm not going to defend its honor; however, if the decorator's knife is headed for a first edition of Louise de Vilmorin's "Madame de ....," I would have to raise my voice and perhaps a cudgel to halt the intended desecration. :)

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  22. I like both real/fake and fake/fake, but for me the easiest thing would be fake/fake wallpaper. (If that makes any sense.)

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