How to Design and Curate a Home Library
One of the most anticipated new hotels in the Valley is now open. The Global Ambassador, the brainchild of restaurateur Sam Fox, has been a decade in the making. The 141-room Phoenix hotel has plenty of features to dazzle locals and visitors alike, including five new restaurants, a rooftop with expansive views of Camelback Mountain and high design hand-picked by Fox, including original artworks from local artist Michael Carson and curated books thoughtfully placed in rooms and across the property by Maison Plage founder Kelly Croteau.
We caught up with Croteau—who travels the world in search of rare, out of print and new books relating to art, design, travel and photography—about how she assembled these books and how homeowners can bring the same literary elegance to their homes.
Q&A With Book Curator Kelly Croteau
The Global Ambassador’s Elegant Book Collection
Tell us about your approach to curating the books throughout The Global Ambassador.
At first, our goal was to home in on stacks of two to three books based on color and genres that made sense for the hotel. We thought about beauty and durability when creating the collection. We wanted to source unique books that could withstand time and use.
Aesthetic-wise, the approach shifted and evolved into something different than we originally anticipated. We began with the idea to choose books with neutral and green shades, but after noticing the neutrals were not making the statement we’d hoped for, we decided to add more pops of color. Adding in pinks, reds and oranges made more of a mark on each room.
How do details like these intentionally selected books impact the overall experience of a place?
Intentionally selected books add character and bring the space to life. A hotel room can sometimes feel stale and ordinary, but our books bring in elements of home making it more personal. Our collection gives a layer of depth to the space. It’s all in the extra details of a space that contributes to the overall experience.
What types of titles can people expect to find in their rooms and around the property?
We sourced art and interior books that were slightly harder to find, landing somewhere in between traditional and avant-garde. Books highlight artists from Damien Hirst to Francesca Woodman and Marcel Duchamp. We encourage checking out all the books you can, as they’re all very unique and hard to come by.
What are you reading right now?
I typically love reading biographies and memoirs; however, right now I’m currently reading The Creative Act [by Rick Rubin]. I’ve also been flipping through the new Marfa Journal featuring Sofia Coppola.
Choosing the Right Books for Your Home Library
What tips do you have for homeowners who want to be more intentional about curating books in their house?
Start with thinking about the colors and textures within a room and books that would complement that.
When creating a library, think about genres that you already love, along with subjects you want to learn more about. This pairing will give you a collection you can always refer to for inspiration.
You can also consider the people in your household when curating your book collection. If you have a family home, fill your bookshelf with a variety of books that speak to each family member. Coffee table books can be for all ages.
How much does the cover or aesthetic of the book matter compared to the content when you’re curating a stack or library?
I think the cover/aesthetic of the book matters, but it also depends on the placement of the books. For example, books displayed on a side table or coffee table should be more aesthetically inviting than books that will only have their spine visible on a bookshelf.
When it comes to color-themed book stacks, the aesthetic is deeply considered. I stick to a cohesive color scheme while selecting content that ties each title together.
Another tip to change the look of a book is to remove its jacket cover for a cleaner and simpler design.
Where do you go to find rare and unique books?
In general, I seek out estate sales and antique shops.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Even though we have access to so much technology, people mustn’t forget about books. Books are important to the home, office and even places like hotels because they offer a different experience as opposed to technology.
Technology is quick and always changing, whereas books are timeless. In my opinion, looking at photos in books gives you a more engaged feeling versus looking at them on a screen.
Speaking from experience, a home feels more complete when books are around. A good book collection can even get guests excited about coming to visit.