Beautiful homes for bookworms

Photo by© Andrew Moore

For old-school book lovers, the home library is as much a statement of who they are as people as a place to store books. And some of these bibliophiles have seriously inventive, stunning libraries.

In Connecticut, Jay Walker's three-story Library of the History of Human Imagination features enormously valuable items, including one of the seven surviving Sputnik satellites and a Gutenberg Bible. It also has one-of-a-kind architectural details, like stairs modeled after the artwork of M.C. Escher.

In London and Thessaloniki, Greece, architects turned bookcases -- usually imagined as built-in or freestanding pieces of furniture -- into multi-purpose home features (specifically a staircase and a sunken book walkway) that provide storage, but also extra space for living.

Australian architects and eco-designers in Melbourne came up with a way to transform recycled wood into hip and functional room dividers that provide homeowners with stylish and easy access to reading materials without increasing their environmental footprint.

Here are eight properties that show how books can change homes for the better.

A London book-lined staircase

Photo courtesy of Levitate

This rooftop Victorian apartment's library on Anson Road in North London is as functional as it is fun to look at, with a unique structure that might fill book lovers with envy. When the renters, who originally hailed from Austria, came across the uniquely remodeled and bright space with large windows, it immediately felt like home, they told Apartment Therapy.

A London book-lined staircase

Photo courtesy of Levitate

The building was originally erected in 1898, and the current owners wanted to expand and modernize the flat without dramatically altering the architectural style. That meant going vertical with innovative storage, and the local company Levitate Architects was happy to oblige with this hidden staircase library. It's made of English oak and is lit from overhead by a stylish skylight.

Wade Davis's studio and dome library

Photo by Ken Wyner, courtesy of Travis Price Architects

Photographer, anthropologist, National Geographic "Explorer-in-Residence" and all-around curious person Wade Davis likes to lose himself in books. His home library on M Street in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C., features a dome bookcase of epic proportions, which architect Travis Price told Washington Life Magazine is reminiscent of the oracle's temple at Delphi in Greece.

Wade Davis' studio and dome library

Photo by Ken Wyner, courtesy of Travis Price Architects

The bookcase towers above Davis's artifact-covered workspace with a built-in desk and contains many of his most cherished reads, accessible only by ladder. The cave-like room, which Davis calls his "Navajo kiva of knowledge," according to Washington Life Magazine, is lit via skylight and connects to his home through a glass greenhouse.

The UnWaste bookcase

Photo by TM Photo, courtesy of Ben Milbourne and Leyla Acaroglu

Rotating wall bookcases aren't just found in classic horror movies. They can also be part of sustainable, space-saving design efforts, as proven by the UnWaste Bookcase in Melbourne, Australia. The owners of a warehouse conversion home in the area wanted to divide one big room into two smaller rooms, and they wanted to do it with the least environmental impact possible.

The UnWaste bookcase

Photo by TM Photo, courtesy of Ben Milbourne and Leyla Acaroglu

Local architect Ben Milbourne, furniture designer David Waterworth and eco-designer Leyla Acaroglu teamed up to create their UnWaste Bookcase system, which earned its moniker by using recycling discarded plywood taken from a landfill. Their design allows the homeowners to rotate individual sections of three floor-to-ceiling bookshelves a full 360 degrees, changing the functionality and airflow of the room at will. Some of the shelves feature the remnants of posters, graffiti and mismatched paint, but they still manage to look polished and neat.

Casa Kiké

Photo by Christian Richters, courtesy of Gianni Botsford Architects

The bright and open library at Casa Kiké in Cahuita, Costa Rica is one bibliophile's unique retreat. It was designed by architect Gianni Botsford, of the London-based firm Gianni Botsford Architects, for his father Keith Botsford, who is a writer. The home consists of two pavilions, one for daytime and one for sleeping, both of which are made of local timber and sit on top of a concrete pad foundation. Steel sheeting covers a large part of the exterior, further blending the property into the tree-lined surroundings.

Casa Kiké

Photo by Christian Richters, courtesy of Gianni Botsford Architects

Jay Walker's home library

Photo by © Andrew Moore

Jay Walker, chairman of Walker Digital, inventor, entrepreneur and original Priceline Negotiator, has what is undoubtedly one of the most extravagant private libraries in the world. Aptly called The Library of the History of Human Imagination, the 3,600 square-foot facility is part of Walker's home in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Built in 2002, the multi-tiered, multi-media, nerdy wonderland is open to visitors (often schoolchildren) by invitation.

Jay Walker's home library

Photo by © Andrew Moore

Walker's library features rare scientific and cultural artifacts, including the first atlas, dated 1699, to show the sun as the center of the universe; one of the famous chandeliers from the 2002 James Bond movie "Die Another Day"; a 1943 napkin on which Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote plans for World War II; and an original 1957 Russian Sputnik satellite.

Thessaloniki sunken bookcase

Photo courtesy of .27 Architects

When this apartment in Thessaloniki, Greece, was renovated in 2009, local firm .27 Architects designed all new custom furniture for the space, much of it built-in. Due to financial and practical considerations, it wasn't possible for the company to add or remove any walls of the unit, according to ArchDaily, so instead designers looked to the floor for inspiration. One result was this wooden sunken living room bookcase, which is built into the floor rather than standing alone as a separate piece of furniture.

Thessaloniki sunken bookcase

Photo courtesy of .27 Architects

While the idea of walking on book spines may be enough to make dedicated readers cringe, the design did seemingly fulfill the designers' goal of creating "a living floor that could be used in diverse and unpredictable ways," according to a statement.

Vermont literary oasis

Photo by Susan Teare, courtesy of Don Welch and builder Dan Clar

This modest home library has everything a reader might want: beautiful and ample built-in shelving, a library-style ladder for grabbing hard-to-reach books, desk, window reading nook, and even a view of the peaceful Lake Champlain and Adirondack Mountains in Colchester, Vermont.

Vermont literary oasis

Photo by Susan Teare, courtesy of Don Welch and builder Dan Clar

The couple who owns the property commissioned their literary getaway from Don Welch, its original architect. He removed the room's fourth wall and added lightly colored cherry and maple built-in furnishings that brighten the space and emphasize the importance of the books on the shelves.

A House for 5,200 Books

Photo by ©Lukas Wassmann, courtesy of ILAI

The "House for 5,200 Books" in Zurich, Switzerland, is exactly what it sounds like. Also known as "The House H47°18,'" this stunning property is both practical and poetic, providing plenty of storage for its owners' antique science book collection and a bright, deliberate place for them to call home. It was designed by the local Ilai firm, which created the space with the "concepts of coexistence, division and reunion in mind," according to architect Iela Herrling.

A House for 5,200 Books

Photo by © Lukas Wassmann, courtesy of ILAI

The home's library tower has two levels connected by a spiral staircase and a book ladder, green-painted concrete walls, modern bookshelves made of brushed aluminum and a low-set window with a view of the garden.