If you're planning to add built-in bookshelves to a room, you should be ready for a revolutionary transformation in decor and atmosphere. Built-in bookshelves can make your office or living room look homier and can also be very practical if you happen to have an extensive library. If you work in a field like law or medicine where you need to keep a huge collection of reference texts at home, or even if you just love to read, built-in bookshelves can also be much safer than freestanding ones. You can pile all of your heavy tomes onto your built-in shelves without worrying about them toppling over on you or your kids, or even just collapsing. Plus, they make all of your books look more neat and organized, which can positively affect the entire look of your rooms.
Choose a room you want to build your bookshelves in. For some homeowners, displaying all of their books to their guests is a priority. If your books are your trophies, you probably want to build your shelves in your living room. This way when you have people over for dinner parties your guests can all check out what you've been reading. On the other hand, if you have a ton of books because you need to consult them for research for your profession, you probably need your shelves near your workspace where you can just quickly grab them to look things up. In this case, you should build your bookshelves in your office.
Decide how much shelf space you need. You can probably gauge your needs by taking a look at the books you already own. If you really do own hundreds or even thousands of books, though, think twice before you build enough built-in bookshelf space to accommodate all of them. In all likelihood, you do not want to turn your entire living room into an actual library. If you own these books for reference, then it is okay to cover your office walls in built-in bookshelves. If these books are for pleasure reading, though, covering all of your living room walls in built-in shelves is going to make your room dark and dreary.
If you actually don't own that many books, but you love the way built-in bookshelves look, it's okay to build more shelving than you actually need. Use some of your extra shelving space to display things such as small sculptures or framed photographs. In fact, not covering your built-in bookshelves can make them look more like design elements than practical furniture, though obviously they will still serve a very practical function.
Once you establish your needs, you can start thinking about your wants. You should probably choose a hardwood to build your built-in bookshelves in. You definitely want them to be as sturdy as possible, and fiberboard, even though it is much cheaper, might not get the job done. Which hardwood you choose, however will be up to your tastes and budget. You can build pale, birch bookshelves if you want to make your room look lighter. If you want to go for a deeper, richer color, you could go for oak or cherry. You don't have to leave your shelves a natural color at all, though, if you don't want to. If you have a more modern looking home, you might want to paint your built-in bookshelves black or even a bright color.