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The most usefull book shelf ever

Apartment Therapy has a nice find of what I consider the best bookshelf ever.Β  Built into the staircase, and still usable as a stair case are book shelves, and lots, and lots of books.Β  I don’t have this many books, but I know someone who does, and she would get much good use out of something like this.


96 replies on “The most usefull book shelf ever”

@Ben yea, I think I may build one of these into my future house, very usefull

@kdpgrahi, um, its a bookshelf, that is also a stair case…that’s kinda not ordinary don’t you think?

@Beth you do have a point there, maybe it would be easier to use a vacuum?

I like it!

Reminds me of the house I lived in (and my friends’ homes) in Japan. Many have this narrow staircase up to bedrooms. Sometimes, the slight step after the doorway conceals a drawer for shoes.

I dunno… I’d feel pretty claustrophobic (did I spell that wrong?)going up that staircase. The fact that there IS a lot of books in a small space wouldn’t be that comfortable. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

Sorry. I’m a spoilsport.

Debi: The steps are staggered because the stairs are too steep for normal treads. It is a sort of alternating tread design.

Though these bookcase-stairs always look so cool, they are all dangerous and ignore building codes. This one, in addition to being so steep, lacks a handrailing. And, if anyone fails to push the books back all the way, could have them become tripping hazards.

stumbled in.

while this looks nice, I would never allow books to stand as (facade) risers on a staircase. Aside from the dust and dirt that come off feet, socks and shoes which will accumulate on each step, there’s the inevitability of kicking the riser, er book spines.

Perhaps an acceptable solution in this instance, I don’t see this catching on, and for good reason.

@Vanessa, i’ve heard of those types of staircases, with drawers for shoes, but i’ve never seen/heard of one like this

@Eddie, thanks for the compliment, i do the blog for fun, but it’s also a source of revenue for me, and, it’s also a hobby, i have.

@Tim, you bring in an important part about breaking Code, I never thought of that,

@mjb, yes, for people who care about their books, this would probably not be the first idea to use, but it is an interesting one nonetheless

although, both Tim’s and mjb’s complaints could be fixed with a piece of Plexiglas that slides down somehow protecting the books, and keeping them in place.

I like the ones on the sides, not so sure about the books beneath the steps… One side might be less crowded, or if you designed the staircase this way originally you could make it extra wide.

(stumbled in)

I LOVE this idea. Thanks for the pics and for sharing. Don’t let anyone rain on your parade, this is great for book lovers and just interesting overall. Thumbs up!

The staggering of the steps looks dangerous to me, suppose your headed down the stairs, heaven forbid you start out on the wrong foot. One could be in for quite a fall. Hoping the first aid manuals are located near the bottom rung… Then again I might invite some of my left legged enemies over for a read…

@Sara, That is in interesting idea to make it wider, if i ever put this in my house, I’ll think of that

@trisha, I think staggering the steps could be avoided if Sara’s idea was implemented.

@Tony M, yes, it would

this kind of stair (with alternating steps) are quite common in for example skilodges around here (sweden) and they work perfectly fine, however i would not want to be old or even sligthly disable to sale on of these.
i do not know your buildning codes but since swedish has one of the strictest in the world i doubt the handrailing would be a problem, since you can acctually use the sideshelfs for that.
the thing i worrie about is fire, what if that staircase is your only way out? books, and paper in general, burns really well if you get my drift

this would be a great idea in my home library to allow me to get to the uppermost books w/o a slidding ladder or dragging a step-stool. could also be a bench while i flip through pages instead of getting it down to look through.

I just stumbledupon this. Really cool!

first, this kind of staircase is called a monk staircase, I think they’re super cool, and I’ve seen them other places, but not as a bookshelf which is an awesome idea.

Second…and this is in response to peter. It makes me mad that people say images are shopped when they’re clearly not…Come on, that would be impossible to shop, and would take hours, for no point.

Wow, that’d break code all over the place here in the USA.. that better be classed as a ladder, otherwise it’s one of the most hazardous staircases I’ve ever seen. Probably not one of the worst attic ladders though.

Looks cool, though.

If you clikc on the name “Gizmodo” below the picture, you’ll find it’s a London Victorian and apparently passes code there… “When Leonie and Rhodri added the upstairs, the architect proposed a handsome and clever book-lined staircase to house their formidable combined libraries in one streamlined space. “It’s just brilliant because the way it’s conceived, you can walk by it and not even notice it,” Leonie says. “So it’s like this fabulous surprise.” The rather treacherous staircase hangs from steel beams, so as not to put any pressure on the Victorian floor, and the staircase has the air of a steep mountain climb from the bottom. “At first I was terrified! Every time!” says Veronika. “Soon, though, it becomes a mechanism and even in the dark one manages to make it downstairs.””

I like the natural lighting at the top of the stairs, but I think the sunlight would cause the books to fade prematurely. Also might get really hot in the little airspace thats left. I would really like this idea if there was a sitting area hidden somehwere near the top!

This is my idea of heaven. My bookshelves now are 12 feet long by 7 feet high, and that’s not sufficient!
If I ever get to design a house there will be bookshelves everywhere there isn’t a window, a door, or a piece of absolutely required furniture or appliances.

To Peter:

Why in the world would it be photoshopped?

To author, Steve [I’m guessing]:

Nice job finding the picture! Very useful, but what if the weight of the books caved into the stair below?

Its not a functional stair case. It was built into closet in some NYC resident’s apartment.

You Americans fall for everything!


Definitely photoshopped. Look at the stairs the reflections are all wrong!!!

lol im sorry…just responding to peter…

I have just moved from a small crowded space with a staircase. I wish I’d seen this when I was there I could have taken my books out of their boxes. Wonderful idea.

The biggest thought that comes to mind is some kind of reinforcement in the center of the steps, such as a metal rod. When you consider that there’s going to be a decent depth, it’s going to weaken the structure of the bookcase. Not to mention the potential weight of those climbing them. So with a bit of reinforcement,and maybe a transparent cover to deal with dust and dirt, it could work.

When I saw this picture I thought it must lead to an attic. But it sounds like this is their main staircase and that is just not practical.

You say this has a steel support to hold the weight? That’s excellent since books tend to be very heavy. My biggest concern was dust but DFsez’s idea of glass doors would eliminate that problem. Would have to be heavy duty glass or plexi and probaby sliders in a track.

I would love to have bookshelves like that!! I think it would be worth the effort to clean it. a good vaccum once a week would keep it pretty tidy. its hard to find awesome shelves anymore

I don’t see how you would get to the books closest to the door. It would need a platform, hinged above the door, which could be dropped down around the fifth stair which one could stand on. I would install pintle hooks on the shelf that would catch the platform, which I would install with spring hinges to hold upright, pulled down with a cord. Still a clever use of space.

This is so dumb and would be a hazard to everyone who uses it. This is probably going up to someones attic and they “built” it to be funny. How would you transport your belongings up and down???

i’ll keep this in mind if i can ever afford somewhere in new york with a staircase…storing books in my dresser and keeping my clothes on the floor is really not working, though

Since when did everyone in the world start freaking out about dust and fading books? And just what building code are the armchair-contractors talking about? The All Encompassing Building Code of America(tm)? And baffled by anything other than a standard staircase? Do spiral staircases give you guys the heebie-jeebies?
In the end, these people have an interesting somewhat unique space.

This is somewhat eccentric but understandable when space is at a premium, however…. In the event of an earthquake, a pile of books may prevent the door from opening if it swung the wrong way. In addition, scrambling over a pile of books is very slippery to say the least.

Most of us who keep lots of books like this DO care about the condition of our books. And a lot of people care about how clean their house is as well. (Personally care more about the books πŸ™‚ ).

As for the idea, no thanks I’d rather have either a traditional system in a room that I can relax in, or even better an automated retrieval system for my books (as if I could afford it!).

But still a cool picture, and if the people who built it like it… more power to em.

I love the concept, but not the execution. Since it was designed by the homeowner’s architect, I assume it is structurally sound, but I would be kicking book spines as I navigate the stairs. Not something I’d want to do to my books because if I keep them, they’re worth keeping in good shape. The casual hand sliding along the shelf as a hand hold would add wear and tear to them as well.
Forget navigating it with household goods. Glass or plexiglass doors on the side shelves would be in danger of getting cracked by the casual lean as one goes up and down – an experience I’ve witnessed in an old house with brittle plaster/horsehair walls. The stair wall was constantly getting bumped and cracked. People don’t realize how often they bump a wall with a shoulder or hip while in a hurry.
And lastly, I’m in Tx, and in this climate this would be the ideal haven for bugs, spiders, silverfish, and the very annoying pharaoh ant – which moves in within hours and builds colonies just about anywhere. I found them nesting in a pile of clean laundry that had sat overnight last year!

How do you get the books up there? Mor eimportantly how do you get them down? I don’t fancy balancing on a ladder on stairs. Thsi looks good, but is actually a rubbish idea. Sorry to be so negative – and I have 1,000s of books too. My shelves are full so I will carry on piling them on what my daughter calls th ebig shelf i.e. the floor

i saw a neat photo that this reminds me of.
it was a bedroom with walls built entirely of book shelves.
the only drawback was that the shelves had to be full because they didn’t have solid backs.
but it looked outrageously cool.

This is a very good design, especially for cramp spaces where storage shelves is required. It will be difficult to clean, but nevertheless if you love books you owe to love to clean too. It could be a fire hazard, but it will be fine if there would be alternate means of egress. It could also be fall hazard especially when there would be books stored improperly, I would recommend a rail or glass enclosure to ease safety and ensure books are kept neat onto the shelves.

Over all it is very good. Nice work.

The Idea is good, though not original. But the biggest issue is the uneven leading edge to the stair treads… this is not to building code in most all states and is a hazard. A building inspector would make you change those to conform to code.

I agree with one of the other posters… your books will suffer the dirt, dust, water, and soil that would be tracked in on your shoes daily. You must not truely care for your books that much.

this stairway leads to a sleeping loft. presumably you’re not coming directly in from the farmyard to this space and have had a chance to wipe your feet or take off your shoes. i think some people are wound a *little* too tight about keeping books pristine. (i also don’t find the dangers of texan pharaoh ants to be a valid criticism of a staircase bookcase in london.)

stair treads with staggered leading tread edges, or alternating step stairs, are often within code regulations. in fact, pre-manufactured stairs for some (steep) industrial applications have alternating treads, where the stair treads determine which foot you start out on (where there is space for only one foot, on the left or right). this makes it safer than having the unused part of a full-width tread which might inhibit your foot on its way up to the next tread. also, many conditions exempt stairways from meeting strict codes- if there’s no bathroom on that level, if the ceiling over a certain percentage of the floor area is below a certain height (rendering it technically uninhabitable, etc.) the loft space may be listed as an attic space, in which case you only need an attic ladder- no railing, steeper than a 7″/10″ stair etc. or perhaps it was built after the final inspection.

as for the concerns of how the books toward the top of the door are reached, i would gamble the technique is to stretch out your arm and grasp the book with your hand. (i think the pictures necessarily distort the perspective.) pardon the snarky attitude- i get surprised by stunted imaginations.

Well I think it’s an imaginative use of space and think it’s a great idea! I used to live in a house with steps like that up to the attic room and it would have been a great use of space. I’ve just moved into a new flat and am considering how I might contain my ever growing collection of books – I’ve bought 5 new books this week! At that rate of growth I’m going to start having bookcases on the ceiling… how is that for impractical???

I think it’s brilliant! Being a book addict, I applaud any creative use of space that allows me to have more books.

Besides, pharoah ants, earthquakes, or farmyard dirt shouldn’t be much of an issue in a house in London.

Wonderful idea but the owner obviously doesn’t live in an earthquake zone that would trap you in with hundreds of books potentially blocking your access to safety. It could easily be adapted though with a little thought.

That would kinda cool. I’ve got a tone of books and I’ve run out of room to store them poperly.

Not sure why people are making such a boog hooha about building regs. etc.

Ed: Because people must always use the internet to criticize other people’s ideas.

Awesome staircase. If I ever get around to building my own house, I will seriously consider this.

we saw the photo two weeks ago as we were trying to think how to build our stairs. well my beloved has made them (the sides are still “wall” but the steps are deep and now accommodate our books!!) it is brilliant! thank you so much for the idea.

Yeah, it’s ok, but…but what if your shoes are too small and then your toes hurt, so when you’re trying to go up or down the stairs and you stumble, and then the beer you’re holding splatters against all the wall books and dribbles onto the step books. And then you tumble forward and knock your head into the staggered step and you catch yourself with the shelving (as railing) just in time puke onto your favorite book, “The Haters Club”? Sorry, it just isn’t cool enough for internet coolsters. ;0

Most of us who keep lots of books like this DO care about the condition of our books. And a lot of people care about how clean their house is as well. (Personally care more about the books πŸ™‚ ). As for the idea, no thanks I’d rather have either a traditional system in a room that I can relax in, or even better an automated retrieval system for my books (as if I could afford it!). But still a cool picture, and if the people who built it like it… more power to em.

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