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at home with emily beale


Hi, friends! We’re excited to share a little twist to the At Home with Becky series for a little while. We have SO many exciting things in the works right now and I need to keep my attention in all those places while it’s a little extra crazy around here … in the best possible way, of course! So instead of putting our popular At Home series on pause altogether, I’ve invited some friends to share a piece of their home with you – my awesome readers and customers. I’m really pleased to be able to shake things up with a little variety, then I’ll be back at it, sharing glimpses from my own home again before you know it!

First up … Emily Beale! In her own words … and behind her own camera …


I’m a big believer in William Morris’ words:

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

I think books are both useful and beautiful! I love books. Who doesn’t? Reading them is more like spending time with old friends and opening the pages means coming home.

When I came home from work at the start of the summer holidays after a long project of cataloguing school books, I realised I had really neglected my own “old friends.” My bookcases were looking very tired and I felt sad seeing them crammed to the brim with books that all needed a little more love. So with the help of my boys, we took William Morris’ words more to heart. “Useful and beautiful” became our mantra. Along the way, we discovered seven ideas for making the most of a home library and thought we’d share them with you.


Seasonality – treat your books like clothes & good food. We find that some books taste best at certain times of the year and that you need to take a break from other books for a while so they stay fresh. So we decided to organise our books seasonally. This allows us to have out on display the books we want to read most during the coming season, which makes visiting our little library so much more exciting since it changes every so often, just like the seasons!


Beware of overcrowding. We’ve discovered that our shelves look best two-thirds full. The sense of space makes them feel more organised and less cluttered. Not overfilling also means we can find things quickly and helps us to be drawn to books we may not have picked up in a while.


Make space for treasures. Not overcrowding our shelves with books means we have room to display our treasures – rocks from the beach in summer, conkers collected in the autumn. These treasures all add to the uniqueness of our home and we love seeing our favourite things together in the same space.


Have a clear strategy for grouping books together. We found that there are many different ways to group books – by size, by height, by theme, by author or even by colour (only for the very creatively brave). We chose to group our books by themes – classic reads, books of faith, creative reads, informative reads, historic reads. And no bookshelf would be complete without the cookery section! Then within each theme, we organised them by size and, to a lesser extent, by author. This allows us to quickly find a book when we are feeling hungry for perhaps a thriller or a little bit of history.


Show the covers of your books. Did you know that showing the front cover of a book makes it more enticing? This is especially true for children’s books. The boys have space in their own rooms for books to be on show, and we love that our new family library now has space for book covers to be shown. Framed book covers also make great book ends!


Create a space to enjoy your books. We simply added a comfy chair to our library area so that once we’ve found the perfect book, we can take a seat and enjoy it, even for just a few moments! This has also resulted in our family spending a little more time exploring the library. We’ve found that good lighting and comfort are also important aspects of the psychology of a home library that really works.


A word on loaning your books — The first thing I want to do when I find something I love is share it! However, I have learned that, sadly, others do not treat loaned items with quite the same respect as they were given. Because I still feel passionately about loaning books, we have developed a system of keeping track of our books whilst also offering a gentle reminder that the book a person has in his hands or shelf does not belong to him and needs to be returned. We now keep a simple record book of each item on loan and insert a small bookmark reminding friends and family that the book belongs to the home library of the Beale family!

We hope that the organisation of our own home library has inspired you. We love our books and feel that they add so much to the story of our home and family. We think William Morris would be proud! Say it with me: “Useful and beautiful!”


A B O U T   E M I L Y

Emily Beale Photography - Profile PIcture Website Becky Higgins


I’m an English wife and mumma of three boys. One is a teenager already! How did that happen?! I split my time between them and the most amazing job — teaching children to read!

In my spare time, I work as a professional photographer and now blogger. “Life & Pictures” (a.k.a Emily Beale Photography) is where I document everything. It’s all about family, fun, food, faith, and photography but not forgetting books and crafts (though they don’t start with an “f/ph”).

Our life is full and busy and great. I love it that way!

And blogging about it means that unforgettable family moments are no longer forgotten. They do not pass by undocumented; they are captured and recorded here. I especially love that I get to share them, too!

Connect with Emily  ::  Website | Blog | Instagram


14 Responses

  1. Emily says:

    I just wanted to say a huge thank you for asking me to be apart of the ‘At Home with Friends’ series! Books are such a huge part of cultivating a good life! x

  2. Brenda says:

    a great post. thanks for sharing.

  3. maria cary says:

    I love this post. Very similar to my own organisational skills in our home office/library. Thamks for sharing

  4. Pamela says:

    We have the same set of Narnia books at our house. My DD read them all this summer. Great stories! Love your library. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Lisamarie says:

    Thank you for the creative tips for book display and lending. Unpacking many loved books from our move may be easier now. A delightful result of teaching children to read and having worked in libraries and classrooms is having an abundance of books. Many books are like old friends or say something about my goals.

  6. Rhonda Steed says:

    We love books around our house too!! We need more book shelves so we can do the 2/3 full thing ;)

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