5 steps to displaying the perfect bookshelf

gold lamp and laptop on desk in front of bookcase

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted August 06, 2021

Whether you have 10 books or 100, we’ve got the tips and tricks to making your literary collection become a standout feature in your home. 

A book collection can be what takes a simple house and turns it into a home. These days, your books can also serve as a focal piece in your home, intersected with other homewares, art, plants or personal keepsakes so that your most prized literary possessions are also on show.

Whether your collection is big or small, below are some simple design tips that can make storing and searching for your books less of a chore and more of a fun, creative process to make a home library for you to enjoy.  

How to style your bookshelf  


Curate your collection of books

Take stock of your current book collection and decide what you really want to keep for your bookshelf display and what you wish to donate. Some people adore the look of 100s of books adorning their walls, others are more minimalist and prefer a few simple favourite titles to do the talking. Either way, make sure your book collection reflects the taste you and your household want in your home.

If you plan to pass on books you no longer need, consider finding a local charity, library or organisation to pass on your literary treasures to those excited to turn the pages for the first time. 

books on a bookshelf next to two small plants

If your collection is smaller, you may wish to organise by height or type for more cohesion in your bookshelf design and style.


Pick the right location for your book collection

Next, decide if all your books will be stored together and if you already have adequate storage. For example, you may want some fashion books on the coffee table and kids’ books in their rooms, or alternatively, you may have inbuilt shelving and wish to create a central home library for everyone.

Note that books these days don’t need to be relegated to a single ‘bookshelf.’ These may be inbuilt in your home, or you can find new and creative ways of promoting your literary prowess, such as floating shelves, on mantels or windowsills, on ladders, under benches – your house is your canvas! The trick is to make them look neat, organised and well-curated – which we get to in the next step.

Either way, make sure you know where you wish to store your collection(s) and that you have all adequate materials prepared before starting.  

Organise your bookshelf

There are many ways you can go about organising your collection in your chosen space. Some creative ways to make your bookshelves pop whilst looking organised and cohesive (as opposed to a messy junkyard sale that makes it stressful to find a single novel) include organising your books by:

  • Colour, such as reds and yellows together
  • Look and feel, e.g. large books together
  • Height, and having ‘like’ books of the same height together
  • Type, such as magazines together, novels together
  • Genre, such as a crime section and autobiography section
  • Alphabetically by title or author
  • Putting together categories you might not have thought of like ‘favourites’ or ‘haven’t read yet’

You may wish to do this by what is most aesthetically pleasing and/or based on the best way for you to find certain books easily. Either way, the aim is for it to look sharp, clean and purposeful in your design. 

colour coordinated bookcases

Organising books by colour in this raunbow formation is a fun way to brighten up your home and find what you are looking for by colour.


Add in your books to your bookshelf

The fun begins! Now that you have your space and your books are organised, it’s time to add them in. Whether you’ve gone for colour, genre, alphabetical, size or stacks of favourites, you can still have fun with layout.

You may wish play around with different heights – for example, a horizontal ‘stack’ next to a range of vertical books to make your display more visually appealing. It will also help you to find certain books when they are separated like this into different sections. This will help create a bookshelf that is nice to look at while still functional should the inspiration to read hit.

Note: For childrens’ books, makes sure they can be easily reached – you may want to consider facing these outwards so your kids can easily find what they are searching for.

Add accessories to your bookshelf design 

For your final act, it’s time to turn your book display into a feature. If room allows, consider adding in bookends, statues, artworks, vases, plants and other tchotchkes to add visual appeal and break up your sections for easier navigation.

Great work! Your book collection is ready. But don’t just leave it as a focal point – take out a book and have a read.

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