Shea McGee just declared 'library tables' in for 2024 – here's how to create your own relaxing reading space in an instant

The library table is a clever book display method that'll help you channel bookshelf wealth in an instant. This is what designers think of the literary look

Three rooms with coffee tables covered in stacks of books
(Image credit: Future)

It might not sound like the most controversial topic, but how and where people display their book collections has caused quite the stir as of late. The 'bookshelf wealth' trend had the interior design world going back and forth about book storage, and literature lovers had some notes.

Interior designer Shea McGee just took to Instagram to share her 'library table,' a clever new way to decorate with books. Perfect for adding a home library to a compact space or creating an eye-catching centerpiece, the library table strikes a balance between book storage and decorative accent. Here's what to know about the library table trend, and what interior designers think about the innovative storage solution.

What to know about library tables

Shea just showed off the library table she's styled in her own home, and it exudes a collected and eclectic modern charm. Layered with short stacks of monochrome design books, faux potted plants, and candles and bowls from McGee & Co., the circular dining table is full of design inspiration. 

Though the final product only fits about a dozen books, the table as a whole is a sophisticated and welcoming statement piece. The library table look works beautifully on a full-sized dining table like this one, but also blends on a low-to-the-ground coffee or console table.

Shea McGee
Shea McGee

Interior designer, Shea McGee founded her iconic design firm, Studio McGee, with her husband Syd in 2014. They later launched their e-commerce brand, McGee & Co, and starred in their very own Netflix show, Dream Home Makeover.

A living room with a coffee table stacked with books

(Image credit: Future)

'I absolutely love a full library table – I think that a home library or home study is a place where the homeowner can really show personality in things that interest them and display items that are meaningful and have been collected over time from travels, interests and family,' says Julia Baum, interior designer and founder of Julia Baum Interiors.

Julia adds that a library table can be less formal and 'more lived-in' than your average coffee table, expressing your personality in a more authentic light. The stacks of books and choices of accessories don't have to be carefully curated or manicured – they just have to reflect your personal taste.

A headshot of designer Julia Baum.
Julia Baum

Julia Baum is the Founder of Julia Baum Interiors, a bespoke interior design studio based in New York City.

A living room with a coffee table stacked with books

(Image credit: Future)

Although their first and most important purpose is always reading, books work wonderfully as a design accessory in any room of the house. Kathy Kuo, interior designer and CEO of Kathy Kuo Home, says she loves using books to spruce up a space.

'Stacks of books are a great way to add subtle pops of color, dimension and personality to a room, so I think the idea of a styled library table is really fun and visually interesting. As with any styled vignette – be it a styled library table, a coffee table tray moment or a classic #Shelfie – the concept works best when it's dynamic and able to change easily with the seasons and with your own personal preferences,' she says.

To keep your library table fresh (and ensure you're always reading), Kathy suggests switching out the books regularly. She notes that fresh flowers, eye-catching vases, and seasonal decor items can level up a library table year-round as well.

kathy kuo home
Kathy Kuo

Kathy Kuo is a celebrated interior designer and international guru within the home and lifestyle space. She has 20+ years of experience in the design industry.

A living room with a coffee table stacked with books

(Image credit: Future)

'Library tables are making a major comeback in design because they have a sophisticated, collected furniture-style feel where you can artfully display your favorite books and decor,' says Nicole Cullum, interior designer and founder of Color Caravan.

Perfect for a small space where a bookshelf just won't fit, the library table is compact and versatile, switching from book storage to dining area in an instant. This storage solution allows you to explore your personal style, showing it off to your guests in an aesthetically pleasing and conversation-starting way. Nicole adds that 'the key to achieving a refined, composed look' is to avoid overcrowding your library table.

'Depending on the length of your library table, place one to three stacks of books grouped together or along the length of your table. Make sure your largest book is on the bottom, and stack one or two slightly smaller books on top to create a tiered effect. Leave plenty of space between your stacks and artfully compliment your books with framed photos, vases, candles, and small sculptures or ceramics,' she says.

A headshot of designer Nicole Cullum
Nicole Cullum

Nicole Cullum is an interior designer and professional organizer in Taos, New Mexico. Nicole is the Founder of Color Caravan, a charming hand-painted line of wallpaper, textiles, and pillows.

Emily Frank, interior designer and founder of Frank & Co., says that library tables offer smart, functional alternatives for hard-to-reach bookshelves.

'Bookshelves are wonderful for city dwellers that required storage out in the open living areas, so long as they’re able to access it. But often those higher to reach spots, are seldom efficiently utilized and become clutter containers,' says Emily.

Instead, she suggests a tiered coffee table for the perfect library table setup: 'We love tiered coffee and accent tables for accessing items at different usage heights. Candles, lamps and coasters on top tiers, magazines, books, reading glass etc. hidden below.'

Headshot of Emily Frank.
Emily Frank

Emily Frank is the founder of Frank & Co., a bespoke interior design studio based in the Midwest United States.

If the all-out bookshelf wealth trend isn't for you, it might be time to carve out space for a library table in your home decor. A pared back version of the viral aesthetic, library tables are sleek and stylish storage solutions we can get behind.

Abby Wilson
Interior Design News Editor

I am an Interior Design News Editor at Homes & Gardens. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.