Oprah Winfrey's shelves follow one single color scheme despite being filled with books – and her key to uniformity is simple

The simple yet impactful storage solution has a place in every minimalist book lover's home – and designers say it's surprisingly easy to follow

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For many book lovers, arranging (and showcasing) their many titles upon open shelves is a joy. However, the thought of varying tones is not loved by anyone. For minimalists, there is a fine line between exhibiting books while maintaining a simple, pared-back color scheme – but a glimpse into Oprah Winfrey's home may offer a solution.

When organizing a bookshelf with minimalism in mind, we're taking cues from the talk show host whose shelves uphold an all-white color scheme – despite being filled with books.

Aside from a few exceptions (including some darker-hued bookspines that create a contrast against the white backdrop), Oprah has kept her bookshelves free of any vibrant color. It's an aesthetic that's bound to cause controversy among book lovers – but whether we love or loathe it – there's no denying that it's an incredibly smart and chic way to uphold a minimalist palette while still showcasing her love for reading. And the best part is that we can experiment on the same scale – or borrow elements of its style – depending on what we want from our room.

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Samantha Wilson, an interior designer and founder of Collection Noir explains how this method of storing books is more than practical. It's also decorative, and it turns conventional items into art. It appears Oprah has chosen books that all tap into the same white color scheme – but we can do so with books with already have.

'You can go minimalist by flipping the books so the spines are hidden, revealing a wall of white and neutral tones,' she instructs. However, as mentioned, we can, too, use Oprah's shelves as a reminder that bookshelves can be primarily decorative – and use them as a springboard to other aesthetic storage techniques.

Another way to turn our bookshelves into art is through thoughtful book and ornament placement.

'If your shelving is more for display, then you want to layer stacks of books across with other pieces such as ceramics, photographs, prints, and plants. Always position things in odd numbers of threes or fives and start by layering the books on various shelves,' Wilson comments.

'Next, drop in any trays and larger ornamental pieces such as vases and plants. Step back and assess and ensure the overall look is balanced, and remove any items that make your shelving feel too cluttered. Less is always more.'

A large cloud sofa with a larg olive tree, round wooden coffee table, and full styled bookshelf

(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

Shop H&G's bookshelf edit

Whether we go for modular living room shelving (like Oprah's), or more compact options, these picks are ready to be styled however we please.


Another way to add interest (without overwhelming a minimalist living room) includes choosing various sized books (and, once again, arranging their covers and spines strategically among other curated accessories).

'Choose books of different sizes to add dimension and opt for complementary covers and layer these with other ornaments such as a vase or potted plants for an effortlessly chic look,' Wilson explains. 'Remember, the purpose of your shelf is to display and not just to store, so keep the smaller items to a minimum to avoid cluttering.'

Whether we follow a look as sleek as Oprah's or borrow elements of her minimalism is up to us. In the meantime, we'll keep admiring the sheer uniformity of her inspiring shelves.


Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.