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Aha! Hack: An Unconventional (and Cozy) Spot to Store Your Books

Agencie Fireplace Books Bedroom

I have a friend who keeps her books on the grand U-shaped landing of her staircase. On this mid-level between the second and third levels, she has stacked her favorite novels on the floor, high enough to reach the bottom of the windowsill. The casual towers of books, blessed with rays of sunlight streaming in, stopped me when I encountered them: The tableau made me yearn to settle in on a floor pillow right there, between floors, and dive into a good book for the rest of the day.

Agencie Fireplace Books Entry
Above: Cortés turned two fireplaces in a Brooklyn brownstone into statement-making bookcases.

Recently, I came upon another book storage setup with loads of personality: a bookcase custom-fit into a fireplace. The brainchild of architect Andrés Cortés, of New York–based Agencie Architecture & Engineering, it’s such a delightful and visually witty way to organize your books. “The budget was very tight on the project, and we were unable to demolish the entire chimney breast [the part that juts out of the wall],” says Cortés, so he came up with this creative, space-saving solution of using the cavity to hold books.

The shelves are constructed of wood blocking and sheets of paint-grade wood. If you’re considering trying this with your own nonfunctioning fireplace, Cortés recommends inserting shelves into the cavity and playing around with the fit until it’s perfect: “The dimensions of old fireplaces tend to be obtuse and a little wonky,” he says.

Photography courtesy of Agencie Architecture & Engineering.

For more why-didn’t-I-think-of-that hacks and designs, see:

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