The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, September 21, 2003
Lead Article

Bookshelf basics

Bookshelves can also serve as room dividers
Bookshelves can also serve as room dividers

BOOKSHELVES are not merely the most convenient appendages to store your favourite authors in, but also an integral part of interior design, even in restricted spaces. Here are a few creative ways to store books.

If you are looking at creative storage solutions for your books, take a leaf out of the late filmstar Ashok Kumar’s books. Dada Moni was famous for using the bathroom in his bungalow like a studio-cum-study. Books, newspapers, magazines, scripts, scenes, canvases, painting material remained scattered there. "Interior design is about adding an element of surprise," says architect Kalhan Mattu of Planet 3 studio, a design firm. "You can make a bookshelf in a bathroom and keep the books that you wouldn’t like to share with anybody," he adds.

"The headboard of the bed is a great place to store novels in the bedroom, "according to architect Shyam Sarguro. A large clothes cupboard, which does not cover the full wall or the space on the side of a dressing table at a 90-degree angle is also ideal for smaller books. Architect Ramkrishna Iyer advises using small triangular shelves in such L-shaped areas.


"You can stack books in a corner in the living room. Use the books like a table and keep something on top of them,’ is Mattu’s solution for large books giving a ‘carefully careless look.’ For keeping books in the drawing room, "you can utilise the space beneath the coffee table to make a book rack," says Sarguro. Likewise, the space underneath the side tables can be utilised too. Iyer suggests making a magazine rack behind a door. ‘You can make racks like those in trains, only with a different material like powder coated mild steel instead of the net that they use.’

Kavita Krishnamurthy, a student in a small apartment, has found a solution to some of the book-storing worries. ‘I have put kadappa stone tiles on one side of my balcony wall right up to the ceiling, and I use that space as a library,’ she says. The space under a staircase is ideal for keeping books too. Majula S, a homemaker finds herself using the wall unit in the drawing room as storage for her bulky computer manuals which are too big to fit in anywhere else.

These days bookshelves are not made of wood alone. Glass, acrylic, wrought iron, steel and pre-laminated boards are also used to make shelves. ‘An all glass shelf supported by aluminium or wood gives the room a very light feel,’ says Iyer. Hanging book shelves from a high tension steel cable is also another idea.

Keeping urban lifestyle in mind, Gautier has come out with a range of Metro furniture which has modular add-on units. "We have 1-2-3 shelf piecemeal units to which you can add more shelves either vertically or horizontally at a later stage," says George Koodaly of Gautier.

Books as a decoration device

"Books add a wonderful, textural feel to any space. They also add colour to the wall. They make a living space look lived in and comfortable," says architect Kalhan Mattu, insisting that book shelves are not merely the most convenient appendages to store your favourite authors in, but also an integral part of interior design. "You can use a bookcase as a divide between drawing and dining areas or any other spaces that you would like to divide."

"I would also like to use just the book jackets to create a design on a corridor wall," he suggests. When making a book-shelf , Iyer has this advice: "Every two feet, leave some space to keep some decorative items so the space does not look congested." Mattu suggests using books as an integral part of the interior design. "On a long wall, you can make a step-fashioned staircase going nowhere for a bookshelf, in bent glass," he says.

Books feature in vaastu and feng shui too. Says Iyer, "Heavy things should be kept in the West and South corners. So, while its okay to accommodate lighter books like novels in the east and north areas, I take care not to load these directions with heavy books." If you are a feng shui follower you will need to identify which of the eight areas is your study corner and keep the books there. LMN