Ashley Judd's bookshelf uses this aesthetically pleasing organization technique – the results are visually stimulating

The actress's bookshelf feels tidy and well-curated – designers say she's created a 'vibrant focal point'

(Image credit: Frazer Harrison via Getty Images)

The art of organizing a bookshelf is one that has spawned many a trend (we're of course talking about bookshelf wealth), and, for some, may have even sparked some debate. There are open shelves and closed cabinets, alphabetized arrangements, and size-dependent ones; with so many options, we love seeing how people have chosen to style their own books.

Take Ashley Judd, for example: the Double Jeopardy and Heat star recently shared a video clip of herself in her study on Instagram, and we couldn't help but admire the built-in, white bookshelf behind her. The airy, open shelves offer a masterclass in bookshelf organization – featuring a rainbow display of tiles, complementing the neutral base and pale pink sofa she is sitting upon.

Decorating with color-coordinating books is a highly popular choice for a good reason: the grouping together of like colors and gradient effect is incredibly effective aesthetically, as designers reassure us.

'Organizing books by color can create a striking visual impact,' says designer Nina Lichtenstein. 'This method adds a playful and artistic element, transforming your books into a vibrant focal point.'

While Judd's shelves are only filled with books, Lichtenstein says that adding other elements into a color-coordinated shelf can maximize impact.

'Enhance your book display with decorative items that reflect your style,' she says. 'Vintage tools, artisanal ceramics, or small potted herbs can add charm and personality.'

Antique bookends can bridge the gap between decorative and practical, adding a touch of vintage flair while keeping books upright in a shelf.

Stacking is another way to maintain visual interest in a bookshelf. Judd has all her books shelved vertically, with their spines out. However, Lichtenstein says that horizontal stacks can actually be excellent storage units.

'To add visual interest, alternate between vertical and horizontal stacks of books,' she says. 'Horizontal stacks can also serve as platforms for decorative items like small plants or vases.'

Blue bookshelf with ladder and sofa area

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Finally, Lichtenstein reinforces the idea that bookshelf styling is ultimately a personal preference; however, regardless of individual taste, she stresses that practicality should not be compromised for strictly aesthetic value.

'Whether you opt for open shelving, floating shelves, or a built-in bookcase, the key is to balance style with functionality,' she says.

This means ensuring shelves are physically sound and books are easily accessible.

Below, find some rainbow bookshelf-friendly pieces to help brighten up and tidy any living space or study.

Color-coordinating is a designer-approved way to make a statement in our living spaces. However, for an alternative we can also organize by genre. We can keep it simple ( by breaking them up into fiction and non-fiction, for example). Alternatively, it can work to separate things into general categories: action, mystery, romance, fantasy, and so on – the choice is ours.

Hannah Ziegler
News Editor

Hannah is Homes & Gardens’ News Editor, with a focus on celebrity style and entertainment content. She got her start in media as a digital editorial assistant at ELLE Canada, and has since written about lifestyle and culture for publications such as Nylon and i-D.

Her love of film is rivalled only by one with a great soundtrack, and she hopes to someday decorate a Nancy Meyers-worthy kitchen.