We weren't planning to buy the home we did. When my husband, Will, and I went to go see it for the first time in late 2016, we left our four kids at home and reassured them it was for research purposes only. We didn’t expect to fall in love with the first house we came across, nor could we imagine it would provide our family with a space where our most cherished memories would occur.

With our oldest child about to start high school, we were itching for a walkable neighborhood near all our favorite spots — coffee shops, the bookstore, the library — where we could live out the next 20 years. This home had the "forever home" quality that our current place never possessed.

Our only real hesitation was that it had two extra rooms we weren't really sure we needed. One seemed like it could make a good home office, but I wasn’t sure what we would do with the other space. Then, the idea dawned on me: a home library!

We had always dreamed of living in a home that could accommodate a full wall of built-in bookshelves. We wanted a quiet space for our book-loving family to connect. A place to curl up with a good story and unwind. A place for homework and quiet reflection. I imagined a room where we could come together, turn off our electronic devices and simply enjoy each other’s company. As we talked about it as a family, the idea of creating our own library quelled any doubts we had about the house. We put in an offer and moved in six weeks later.


As a longtime reader, writer and book lover, books have always played a central role in our family life. I'm far and away the biggest reader in our family, so it was important for me to pass that onto my kids and surround them with good books; we connect through literature. We were in the house about two months before we got started on the room, and after only a few weeks of work, our library came to life.

We could hardly wait for the final coat of paint to dry so we could start loading up the shelves with our collections. At first I thought the kids would want their books down low so they'd be easier to reach, but they begged me to put their favorite authors way up high so they'd have an excuse to use our rolling library ladder. Once the shelves, books and ladder were up, we quickly filled in the rest of the space with a new chandelier, a cozy throw rug, and some cool reading chairs we already had.

Anne Bogel's home library
The author turned a spare room into a space her book-loving family could all enjoy. Anne Bogel

I love the finished library because it feels distinctly like us. I like to think that this little space nurtures the kids’ reading lives. Some mornings I come down from bed and see that one of my children is already awake, snuggled up in there with a book. Just recently, I walked in to find my two teenagers tackling homework while my youngest was curled up with a book on the window seat — all together in our library.

I realize now that this is the space our family has always been waiting for.

A bonus: The room has also become the place where we gather for family game nights, and where my daughter and her friends like to unroll their sleeping bags during slumber parties.

As the English writer William Morris famously said, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." Our library fulfills both purposes. It houses our books so we know where to find them, but it's also a lovely space to read, do homework or play games as a family. This cozy room makes us happy to look at and even happier to spend time in.

I realize now that this is the space our family has always been waiting for.

Recommended Reading