Amelia Baker, founder of the Country House Library
As a lifelong bibliophile, I couldn’t think of a better job than one surrounded by books. Being an only child and the latchkey kid of two very busy parents, books were always my mainstay when looking for something to do, or as my parents put it, ‘staying out of trouble’. I began by reading everything in the house, and moved on to a progressively more dog-eared library card that soon took me on my very own literary journey, one that included Bleak House, The Hobbit, Robinson Crusoe, Little Women, The Mill on The Floss, Emma, and bizarrely one very boring summer - the History of Western Philosophy by Bertram Russell, which I would actually recommend to anyone, even if they were twelve at the time.
But this was nothing compared to when I eventually discovered the loft. Picking my way across the beams, and trying not to fall through the ceiling, I discovered another set of shelves, this time filled with a treasure trove of proper, hand-me-down, vintage books. And so my expedition into all things vintage began, first with Brideshead Revisited, and then on to the not so age-appropriate, but beautifully written, Lolita, which if I’m honest, raised more questions than it answered.
Thanks to my first encounter with the complete collection of PG Wodehouse, the books that have always stayed with me were those set in the British country house, with all the japes and scrapes that apparently could be had within, and the wonderful library they always seemed to contain. By combining the two, I came up with the idea for the Country House Library, recruiting fine arts graduate Sean to help me with all things creative, and launching a growing community that have come together to shamelessly revel in what we love best - beautiful, classic, evocative, rare, vintage and obscure books.
As well as loving books, I’ve always loved the way they look; whether it’s the simple but striking Penguin Classic, or the handmade covers and incredible illustrations you often find on a vintage novel, the craftsmanship and artistry are just fantastic.
That’s why I love using them in creative projects, including my own paper collage art, and for decorating rooms – and I’m obviously not alone. #Shelfie has already had more than 27 million posts and counting on Instagram, which proves that life really is better with a book.
Books bring any room alive, filling them with your own personality. A couple of my personal favourites are, ‘I Know why the Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelo, and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll – take from that what you will. Place them alongside trinkets, plants, and memories, use them for a splash of complementary colour, as a focal point, or a way of wowing guests - no room has ever been made worse by the presence of a book, and most are made infinitely better - even larger spaces and offices.
Click hereto see some of the spaces we’ve transformed, or if you need help with anything creative, or just want to share your own shelfie, please do get in touch!
But it’s not just about Ami and Sean - Country House Library is an entire community of people who can’t get enough of reading, discussing and looking at books, and we want to include YOU!