Home Libraries Speak Volumes

By Iyna Bort Caruso

A personal library is not just a room – it’s a realm. No other space offers as much insight into a person’s tastes and intellectual curiosity, or feels as intimate and consequential at the same time.

Such is the case in Newport, Rhode Island, where the centrepiece of a sprawling condominium is a library with vaulted cedar-shingled ceilings, cherry and mahogany millwork, as well as an imposing fireplace. Made of three units combined into one, the home is located in a former 1852 carriage house that was once part of an estate owned by John Jacob Astor. A meticulous 21st-century reimagining of the space where coachmen once met, its library looks strikingly authentic to both the building’s former self and the current owners’ personalities. “People enter the library and are just awestruck,” says Kate Kirby Greenman of Gustave White Sotheby’s International Realty in Newport. “It’s very peaceful, very beautiful, and it just takes your breath away,” she adds. Measuring 30 square feet, this cherished haven is as ideal for entertaining as it is for quiet contemplation.

Clearly, even in our digital world, the idea of a space dedicated to hardcover books remains extremely appealing. For her part, architect Susan Bower of Mitchell Wall Architecture and Design in St Louis, Missouri, loves “the way you can manipulate space with books” – use freestanding bookcases, and they become sculptures; line a room with books, and they give the impression of wallpaper, as in the majestic contemporary library of a family home in Heber City, Utah. “A library has all these ideas captured between bindings – it’s just a wonderful repository of human thought,” Bower says. It can also be an impressive reflection of your best self.


A two-storey, Regency-style library is the pièce de résistance in this timeless manor home. The coffered ceiling under the dramatic mezzanine level incorporates detailed mouldings and recessed lighting. Pine-panelled walls surround the room, which features built-in custom library cabinetry with glass-paned doors, decorative wood mullions and in-cabinet lighting. The 250-year-old fireplace originates from a town house in the Kensington section of London. A concealed entertainment centre and hidden wet bar with marble countertop make this room as comfortable today as it was a hundred years ago.  

$4,995,000  Property ID: 66RQXQ
Prominent Properties Sotheby's International Realty
Winifred Cavazini +1 908 256 3044
Rosemary Dangler +1 908 377 4852


Herber City, Utah

Rich in family history, this majestic legacy home is a contemporary country masterpiece. At once extravagant and tranquil, this property offers breathtaking views as well as grounds featuring three stocked ponds, eight waterfalls, several bridges and a boat dock. Inside, large sliding doors lead to a two-storey library modelled after the Library of Congress, the perfect setting to peruse books or to unwind.

$3,900,000  Property ID: S6QXXJ
Summit Sotheby’s International Realty
Jamison Frost +1 435 0513 2820
Valen Linder +1 619 865 3646


Salt Lake City, Utah

This exquisite estate in the Gilmer Park Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, is ideally located just three miles from downtown Salt Lake City. Constructed in 1926 and now fully restored for modern living, this home is perfectly situated in a park-like setting along Red Butte Creek. The European architecture features hand-painted ceilings and a two-storey library with quarter-sawn-oak built-ins.

$6,900,000  Property ID: C33GL8
Summit Sotheby’s International Realty
Thomas Wright +1 801 652 5700
Kerry Oman +1 801 369 2507


Paradise Valley, Arizona

This magnificent contemporary estate was impeccably designed and built with utmost attention to craftsmanship, precision and materials. At 25,000 square feet, this residence is ideal for entertaining, including in its two-storey library, where custom mahogany millwork and a spiral staircase will delight all guests and book enthusiasts.  

$16,950,000  Property ID: 97JKFH
Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty
Johnathan De Young +1 480 619 0780


Manalpan, Florida

A fifteen-acre, ocean-to-lake estate, the property, named Gemini, stands alone among the Palm Beaches in its scale, beauty, privacy and amenities. Perched atop a dune, this family compound enjoys 360-degree views as well as an array of recreational amenities, from a swimming pool and PGA-standard golf area to a regulation tennis court, half basketball court, fitness centreand spa. Among many distinguishing features, the residence’s expansive libraries were brilliantly conceived for serious book collectors.

$165,000,000  Property ID: 0077253
Sotheby’s International Realty – Palm Beach Brokerage
Cristina Condon +1 561 301 2211
Todd Peter +1 561 281 0031


Newport, Rhode Island

In a spectacular former carriage house restored to perfection, the expansive library offers warmth and comfort. This cherished haven is ideal for entertaining as well as for quiet contemplation. 

$2,500,000  Property ID: 45R826
Gustave White Sotheby’s International Realty
Kate Greenman +1 401 848 6727



New York-based writer Iyna Bort Caruso has contributed to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday and others.

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