Sterling echoes this sentiment: “It’s more about lifestyle choices than wanting it to look a certain way. I have piles of books all over my house, in every corner, on every surface, not as decor—although I adore them as objects—but because I want my library to be like a living, breathing thing. I ‘designed’ it to be used.”
So a living, breathing thing, then: An interest in cultivating something that extends beyond the external validation of Instagram, and an evolving showcase of your tastes. “‘Bookshelf wealth is about honoring ourselves, our journey, our interests, and proudly displaying it all,” says Lewis.
Schwartzmann agrees. “As I’ve gotten older, my tastes have become more refined, so at this point, it is more about quality over quantity. It’s not about showcasing as much as possible but rather serving the space and your needs within it,” she says.
The takeaway? Bookshelf wealth can be as grand or humble as you want to make it. It’s not prescriptive. Still, there are places to start when thinking about how you want to nourish your at-home library. “If you don’t already have a book collection, I would recommend finding a very good used bookstore and visiting often,” shares designer Eliza Gran, whose lived-in nooks in her Hudson Valley home are bursting with books. “Thrift shops, even Goodwill, often have surprisingly great books, and of course, that’s the best place to find affordable secondhand art, ceramics, and furniture.”