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My eye can’t help but be attracted to black shelves, especially done in a glossy coating.  The bookcase becomes the main focus of the room and the books within it really pop.  With the right colour wall paint, a black bookcase can transform a room from mundane into one with high-impact elegance with a heavier, more gothic theme.  Whereas white shelves give a room an airy feel, black ones are sexier, and can really compliment decor ranging from modern to Victorian.

These all show my bias towards libraries with wall-o-books.  I do love a good floor-to-ceiling design.  Why waste space where books could be?  I think you’ll enjoy looking at the five ideas for black wall units in this gallery.

1. Black Shelves, White Furniture

Black Shelves, White Chair

Notice the black gloss, modern version of crown mouldings, and white carpet/furnishings.  This modern library is spacious, with tons of room for all your books, and it looks fantastic.  Correct me if I’m wrong (I’m definitely not a professional at construction materials) but I believe these are metal shelves, so they’re sturdy enough to hold all your heaviest materials, and they look relatively easy to build.  This could be an instant transformation of any smaller room, and I love how the mouldings on the top hides the gap between the top of the shelves and the ceilings.

2. Black Shelves, Great Chandelier

Black Shelves, Chandelier

In another decade when I own a house or condo, you’ll walk in and see a design like this in my den.  I think it is fantastic from top to bottom.  I love the shelving unit with the hidden shelves on the bottom and how the chandelier compliments both the bookcase and the decor.  Lilac paint and grey floors (or any other lighter colours) helps create a dichotomy between dark and light, so the black doesn’t become overwhelming and the library becomes a den – in the sense of a cave where bears hibernate!  The white furniture and candle sconces are elegant throwbacks that still have a modern edge.  The only thing I don’t like is the ladder, though as a short person I certainly see the necessity of one!

3. Modern Black Loft

Modern Black

I enjoy the modern ceiling lights in this library design.  Notice how the black gloss of the room really makes it seem darker than necessary for the space?  Now, I don’t necessarily hate that, I just like to read in spaces with good lighting.  I think this is perfect for watching that tv centered in the middle.  The rest of this loft is painted similarly and is a really interesting mix of modern and antique decor from a variety of cultures.  Click on the image to see more!

4. Black and Red

Black and Red

Black and red! Be still my heart.  You can really get a sense of how high those shelves are by looking at the door in this image.  Maybe I should reassess my thoughts on library ladders (I’ve seen good things about them on movies like Beauty and the Beast and Atonement – which is a terrible way to judge, I know).  I enjoy the oriental feel of this library, and the fact that all the red, from the padded door in the left corner to the lights hanging from the top of the shelves to the chair cushions match.

5. Black Shelves, Dining Room

Black with distressed furnishings

Featured in Elle Decor, this is straight from the house of fashion designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka.  I enjoy looking at their clothes (but in no way could afford them at this point in my life) and I appreciate their library design.  Notice how the distressed design of the (probably) antique dining set matches the wood door?  I like how the top shelves are used to showcase platters, trophies and various pieces, rather than difficult-to-reach books.

So what do you think?  Are black glossy shelves right for you?  Did you see any designs that you love, or are you going to pass on black?  Think about it.