Bookshelf styling ideas: from reading nooks to full-scale home libraries

If you've got books coming out your ears or you just fancy showcasing some special editions, bookshelf styling should be top of your decor list! Here are our favourite ways to make the most of your book collection and give your pals shelf-envy...

Published: May 16, 2022 at 12:00 pm
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There's something very heartening about stepping into a home and seeing shelves filled with colourful, well-thumbed books. Books and bookcases are a great way to showcase one's personality, make a house feel more homely, particularly if you're renting, and they are interior style statements in their own right.


From simple stacking hacks to full-out, floor to ceiling shelving, there is a bookcase style to suit any reader (and interior lover!). Get inspired with our round-up of the best bookcase styling ideas below...

West Elm Marble Coffee Table, John Lewis & Partners

Bookshelf styling ideas

Minimalist bookshelf

Leaning bookshelf, Urban Outfitters

If you love a clean, pared-back look at home, then stacks of books lining your walls might set you on edge. An easy way to showcase your book collection, while also keeping things fresh and neat, is to go for a minimal bookcase with large, open shelves that will keep your books far enough apart to not look too busy.

You could also use your bookshelf as a display point for other home accessories such as candles, vases, prints and houseplants as shown above. They'll help break up the space and will tie in with your books more effortlessly.

Bookcase Judd, from £63.75, Tehe Books

An even easier hack for minimal book displays is to reverse the book spines, as shown above, to create a more cohesive and calmer look. You'll just need to remember which book you put where!

Maximalist bookshelf

Thura bookcase, £234.95, SKLUM

If you're on the other end of the spectrum and love nothing more than a riot of colour and pattern, then a more maximalist bookshelf may be the thing for you.

Stack your books at alternate angles, lying horizontally as well as vertical, to create interest (and to make the most of the space), and pop plenty of other home accessories on your shelves such as family photos, lights and flowers. This look is ultra homely, so the more books and trinkets the better!

Colour-coded bookshelf

Ebru white oak effect painted four-shelf bookcase, £148, B&Q

An instant way of turning your bookshelf into a style statement in your interior is to organise your book covers by colour. It's amazing how much of a difference this simple hack has on a room, and if you're a visual person and remember book covers more than book titles, it can help you find your books faster.

Floor to ceiling bookshelf

BILLY bookcases, from £60, IKEA

If you have an impressive book collection that you'd like to keep in one place, custom-built or tall bookcases placed together (like these Billy bookcases from IKEA), is a great way to go.

Opting for neutral-coloured shelving units that blend in easily with the rest of your room will ensure your walls of books blend in seamlessly rather than stand out starkly.

Low bookshelf

Low bookcase, Tylko

Low bookshelves are great for those of us with dinky homes; they have the advantage of providing extra surface space for other homewares such as lights, plants and other bits and bobs.

Open plan long and low bookcase, 2Modern

And you could even use a low bookshelf as a room divider in an open-plan home, or how about a TV stand? You could also pop cushions on top of one and use it as an extra seat!

Freestanding books

Pex shelving unit, £134.95, SKLUM

For an effortless look that requires no bookshelves or shelving units at all, try stacking your favourite reads on a bench or even straight on the floor. This look would work well in pared-back industrial schemes as well as homely cottagecore aesthetics.

To keep your book piles from looking messy, stack them according to size (to make the display more uniform) and prop up a print or place a decorative item on top.

If you like the less is more look but want a bit more order (and easier access) you could try this clever 'hidden' shelf stand from SKLUM for your book collection instead!

Reading nook

A beautiful collection of books isn't complete without a cosy and inviting spot to read them all. A comfy armchair and footstool is great but have you thought about making your very own reading nook?

Installing a window seat (or low bookshelf!) with deep comfy cushions on top and filling a neighbouring wall with books is one easy way of making one. Or, for an easier hack, install bookshelves in a disused corner and plonk a plush armchair and floor lamp amongst them.

See more reading corner ideas here!

Home library

If a reading nook doesn't cut the mustard, and your book collection is hefty, you might want to splash out on a larger scale home library. A study, guest bedroom, hallway and landing can all make great places for an at-home library. If there's space for ceiling to floor bookshelves, it'll work, it's just important you can access all your books safely (a stylish ladder may be required!)


Looking for more styling ideas? Check out our tips for styling a coffee table!


Katie is a Staff Writer for HomeStyle magazine and She previously worked on Gardens Illustrated magazine and has written for various other lifestyle magazines and brands. She particularly enjoys writing about indie and sustainable homeware brands, interior styles through the ages, houseplants and decor hacks for small spaces. She is also responsible for HomeStyle's buyer's guides, so you'll often find her testing out the latest homeware gadgets and kitchen appliances.


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