If you think you have a lot of books, you should see Ashley Spivey‘s collection. You may know her from her time on ABC’s The Bachelor in 2011, but these days she lives with her husband, Steve, and their dog, Jackson, in New York City’s downtown area. A nanny and a lifelong book-lover, she spends much of her time running Spivey’s Book Club (#spiveysđź“šclub), an online group that has nearly 15,000 members from all over the world. When it started gaining traction – first on Twitter and then Instagram before finally finding a home on Facebook – she really didn’t have the set-up for the 10-15 books that publishers would send her a week. “I was just stacking books wherever I could find space,” she says. “My dream was to have a library in my apartment, a space for all my books, and that’s really hard to have in New York.”

She worked with Angie Leslie from the West Elm Broadway Design Crew to carve out a dark and moody library in the entryway of their two-bedroom apartment. It’s a bold look and a stark contrast to the light-filled living room just around the corner. “Despite having this great view in the living area, I actually love having dark spaces, so that’s why I love that our office and library is really dark. It’s nice to be able to go from the brightest spot in the whole world to this cozy space.”

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“Ashley showed me an image of a dark library from Pinterest, so that’s what I wanted to create here,” Angie says. “They’re busy people, so I wanted the space to feel calming, the library to be more serious and thoughtful, and then the living room to be a getaway.”

Tour the full space below!

Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt

Library, Office & Entryway

The library/office is the first thing you see as you walk into the apartment. “New York apartments in doorman buildings can be very cookie-cutter, so to turn the entryway into a library just makes it feel like a totally different room,” Steve says. The striking Digital Terrazzo Wallpaper helped them achieve dark and tranquil library feel while still having lively energy. “We were scared of color a little bit because we didn’t know what to do, but when I saw that wallpaper I was like, that’s perfect,” Ashley says. “It doesn’t feel like too much even though there’s a lot going on.” Pink accents from the Roar + Rabbit Pleated Swivel Chair and the office chairs tie everything together. “I wanted a space where I could drink my coffee and read my book and it’s nice that I have such a comfy spot,” Ashley says. “With the drink table, now I never have to leave.”

Angie paired the Industrial Storage Desk with three bookshelves from the same collection to create the library. “I kind of underestimated how many books she had,” she says. “The main thing for them was that this is the library, so it wasn’t a bad thing to have too many books. I think it’s important for people to live the way they are. At my house, I want everything clean, so I turn my books the other way so you can’t see the spine, but for Ashley, she wanted to see the books, so it was okay to have books stacked to the ceiling.”

Her best design tip for styling a bookshelf with a lot of books? Add some variation and leave space for accents. “You’ll see some books are stacked up, and on the next shelf they might be in a row, so just keep doing patterns. Leave spaces for a plant or a decorative item to try to break up all that book. If you bring a plant in, it’s always going to make it better.”

Living Room

Angie calls this space the “light at the end of the tunnel.” Before the makeover, Ashley and Steve had lots of hand-me-down furniture. “We used to have all dark furniture in here,” Ashley says. “It’s as if I was trying to bring in my vision for the library into this space, but it’s impossible for this space to feel dark because there’s so much light.” They replaced the old sofa with the Andes Sectional in Twill Stone, and breaking it up with an Italian-style ottoman helps the light from the sweeping windows come in even more. Since the space is large, Angie “scaled up” some pieces to fill the space properly with two Wood-Frame Coffee Tables and (believe it or not!) two Cozy Plush Rugs in Frost Gray next to each other. “They already had a 9’x12′ rug, but we added a 6’x9′ rug so that it didn’t cut off just before the chairs.” (These exact ones are sold out, but you can get a similar look with the Highline Leather Chair.)

Dining Room

“I’ve been saying for two years that we need to get a designer because we don’t know what we’re doing,” Ashley says. “I get overwhelmed with options, so it was great working with the Design Crew because Angie brought the vision, but I could be like yes, I like that, or no, I don’t like that.”

“Ashley has great taste, she wasn’t afraid to tell me if she didn’t like something,” Angie says. “I originally wanted to get the Modern Farmhouse Dining Table in a lighter color, and she said let’s do Dark Mineral instead. And I actually really like it.”

Angie Leslie, West Elm Broadway Design Crew

Ready to make over your own space?
Book a free West Elm Design Crew appointment today!

Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt

Follow @ashleyspivey and @westelmbroadway for more!

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