Read all about it! Our 10 book storage ideas will lift your library

From bespoke to bijoux, try these clever ways to display your books throughout your home.

If you’re an avid bookworm, having somewhere to house your collection of stories is a must. Whether it’s a basic bookcase, a lavish library or a simple series of shelves, well-considered book storage ideas can hold just as many memories as your favourite photographs.

In the words of Henry Ward Beecher: “books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.” So, with that advice in mind, sit back, relax and browse our library of book storage ideas.

grey built in storage unit with bookshelvesCredit: Sharps

1. Build out your alcoves

Make the most of existing architectural features

living room with built in storage in alcoves flanking a fireplaceCredit: Sharps
Use your alcoves for beautifully bespoke book storage

If your traditional fireplace is flanked with alcoves, call in the professionals to build a matching set of bookcases. Adding cupboards at the base will also provide added storage space.

 “Integrating shelving into the space you have available helps to create a dedicated zone to display your prized possessions,” says Rachal Hutcheson, national retail manager at Sharps.

“Whether it’s an impressive collection of books or a series of treasured photos, organisation is key for a calm environment, and fitted storage and bespoke shelving is a great way to make the most of awkward spaces, such as sloped ceilings or a chimney breast.

“It’s all about unlocking potential in your home,” she adds, “and maximising every space.”

Make your storage blend in

Painting the units in the same colour as the walls will ensure they feel part of the room, but to avoid it becoming bland, create visual interest by placing some books vertically and others horizontally.

2. Build a brightly coloured floor-to-ceiling bookcase

Make a statement with sunshine-yellow shelving

floor to ceiling yellow bookshelves in room with orange carpetCredit: Carpetright
Sunshine yellow brings a boost to your book collection

Prefer pops of colour to muted tones? Paint your bookcase shelves to match your bright disposition and liking for dopamine decor. For maximum impact and storage space, build up to the ceiling and add a ladder and rail for access.

To ensure symmetry, have larger sections on the lowest level for weightier volumes but keep the rest of the shelves at the same height. It will prevent the overall look from becoming too busy and, instead, allow you to embrace a rainbow-coloured approach to your book display.

3. Collect crates

Boxes of books make for a beautiful bibliothèque

crates containing books stacked up to side of fireplaceCredit: Garden Trading
Think outside of the box for your book storage ideas

Although we love a beautifully bookcase, we’re also fans of a more whimsical approach to book storage, which is why we love this crate idea.

Ripe for an upcycling weekend DIY project, place your crates atop one another to provide pleasing symmetrical lines and create natural dividers for you to section your books into topic, subject or author.

It would also be easy to remove a box of books from the top and take it somewhere else to enjoy – although we’d happily pull up a seat here and lose ourselves in a fictional fantasy any day of the week.

How to choose the right book storage

Knowing what style of storage will work best can be tricky if you’re faced with a book collection that spans many decades.

We asked Jonathan Clark, creative director for Shelved, to share his advice on picking the best book storage to suit your needs.

“Choosing book storage will depend on various factors, such as available space, aesthetic preferences and the total number of books you are looking to display.”

  • For a first step, declutter your collection and donate or gift any books you no longer reach for – this will create more room for decorative pieces to display among the books on the shelves.
  • For those seeking organisation, decide on a systematic approach and arrange by genre, author or colour.
  • One is to block by colour (although you’ll need a good memory to remember which book is which), alternatively group together by size, or if they are from a series with matching book jackets use this as your theme.
  • Get creative and lay the books in different directions. This can be done by alternating between horizontal and vertical orientations, adding visual interest to the shelf.
  • If you find you still have too many books to display, consider opting for a shelving unit with integrated cupboards, which can be used as an overflow to stop your shelves from looking untidy.

And finally, he says when space is limited, “consider choosing a unit that serves a second purpose. A shelving unit with an integrated desk can make the perfect addition to any corner, allowing you to transform your spare room into an office when you don’t have guests. 

4. Build a bespoke cabinet

Use dark green and golds for a luxurious library

green bespoke storage unit with shelves and cupboardsCredit: Neville Johnson
Create a luxurious library with green and gold

For a bookcase that tells a story of sophistication and glamour, dedicate a wall or alcove to a floor-to-ceiling storage solution to display books and beautiful treasures.

Tap into the season’s trend for nature-inspired palettes and choose a dark green such as this pigment rich shade from Neville Johnson. Add accessories made from metallics, books covered in dark, earthy tones and a ladder to reach the top.

How to style your library

Senior designer at Neville Johnson Simon Tcherniak reveals how he creates  the perfect living room book storage.

“Books can look great in a living room,” says Tcherniak. “They add interest and colour, convey personality and take dominance away from the television. But an untidy collection can make the whole room feel cluttered and chaotic.

“The first thing to do is to curate your collection,” he advises. “Make sure you choose the best and the most beautiful of all your books – the rest can go to spaces such as the landing  or the study.

“Your living room book collection should give you joy and inspire you to choose a book and settle down in a comfy chair,” says Tcherniak. We couldn’t agree more.

5. Seek out compact shelving

Tight on space? Smaller book storage solutions do exist

white cylindrical revolving bookcaseCredit: Amazon
Choose a revolving library

A smaller home shouldn’t be a barrier to collecting books, which is why we love this simple storage cylinder. With neatly arched in-built bookends, divider sections and a rotating base, it’s small enough to be tucked away in any room, but big enough to store a sizeable collection of your favourite reads.

Featured product

Nisorpa 5-Tier Rotating Bookshelf

RRP: £179.98

Nisorpa 5-Tier Rotating Bookshelf

6. Add a mini bookshelf to your desk

Keep reference books close to hand

desktop book shelfCredit: Cotswold Company
Add a desktop bookcase for easy access

Instead of creating a messy pile of books on your desk, use a mini bookshelf storage solution. As well as providing you with a home for books, it will provide a convenient space for files, and the chance to add a touch of greenery to brighten up your workspace.

If you’re commissioning a new desk, have one built to match. Alternatively, the Cotswold Company sells the shelf above in a lovely shade of inky blue, which may work with your existing scheme.

The benefit of purchasing one specifically designed for desks is that it has been designed with work in mind, so will give you large enough spaces for items such as box files which are naturally much bigger than fictional novels.

Featured product

Chalford Inky Blue Desk Top Bookcase

RRP: £229

Chalford Inky Blue Desk Top Bookcase

How to size a bookcase

Tcherniak suggests you use the following approach to make sure your bespoke book shelving fits the bill: “Make sure the depth of the shelves is based on the depth of the largest book, to ensure that no spines overhang the front, while also ensuring that the bookcase doesn’t take up more of the room than is necessary.

“Shelf heights can be correctly calculated to avoid big gaps above the books. If your collection is likely to change over the years, adjustable shelving might be worth considering.”

7. Create an entertainment zone

A mixed-media unit can house it all

Keep all your entertainment togetherCredit: Cotswold Company
Keep all your entertainment together

If you do most of your reading in the living room, but it’s where you also watch TV, mix and match your entertainment options with a large storage unit designed to house everything you need.

With space for a TV, cupboards for board games, books on shelves and treasured family photos, the different-sized openings make it easy to house your literary collections, favourite objets d’art and memories in one convenient location.

Featured product

Chester Dove Grey TV and Media Storage Unit

RRP: £1,750

Chester Dove Grey TV and Media Storage Unit

8. Make it modular

Choose contemporary shelving and a strong colour scheme

black modular storage unit against red wallCredit: Shelved
Create a feature with a modular bookcase system

For a more dramatic look for your book storage, pack a powerful punch with a black shelving unit that combines open shelving with cupboards.

Add drama with a bold red or orange colour scheme and curate books as if they were artwork, layering a mix of items until you have a gallery-style wall to feast your eyes on.

Buy choosing a modular design that can be updated in the future, you can grow your storage in line with your book collection. Good examples of modular ranges that have been available for years include Ikea’s Ivar and Eket ranges, or systems by Tylko and String Furniture.

Featured product

Heslerton system, Shelved

RRP: £1,654.75

Heslerton system, Shelved

9. Keep your culinary cookbooks within reach

It’s a recipe for success

green island unit in kitchen with integrated bookshelfCredit: Wood Works Brighton
Cook up a storm with recipes close by

If you’re searching for a last-minute supper idea or planning a weekend celebration, take a leaf out of this kitchen designer’s handbook and create a shelf for books in a central island unit.

Instead of having to search shelves in a different room, or head behind closed doors for your go-to dish, you can simply reach for your recipe while popping on your coffee machine for your morning brew.

Keep a stylish cookbook stand in one of the kitchen cupboards so that when it comes to prepping and creating your dish, you can move the book around the kitchen and then store it safely back away once you’re done.

We love how the book shelving and colour scheme in this design carries through into the living room, where books are showcased against a wall painted the same green as the kitchen island.

Colour matching and books – it doesn’t get much better for a homes and interiors writer!

Featured product

Oak Wood Foldable Cookbook Stand, John Lewis

RRP: £32

Oak Wood Foldable Cookbook Stand, John Lewis

10. Hang your books

No room for shelving? Use a wall-mounted system

Hang your books when space is limitedCredit: Wayfair
Hang your books when space is limited

While this stylish hanging solution would work in any room, we think it would be a great one for the bathroom if you’re partial to a long soak in the bath with your latest blockbuster close to hand.

Although we’d perhaps avoid popping it in a guest loo, or you may find your visitors disappearing for slightly longer than expected.

Featured product

Hans Book Rack Wall Hook, Wayfair

RRP: £314.99

Hans Book Rack Wall Hook, Wayfair
Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her


Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

Away from work, Sarah fills her Pinterest boards with more ideas, dreams of where to travel, takes photographs and loves being by the sea. She has two sons and if she absorbed everything they said would also be a football expert. The fact is she is often more interested in the colour and design of the kit – but don’t tell them that.

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