Successful book storage is a conundrum that should be solved efficiently and practically, yet it is one that often alludes even the most stylish of us.
Books can bring culture and intelligence to any room; as Cicero said, ‘A room without books is like a body without a soul.’ Not only that, but a quick glance at both the selection of titles and the way that they are organised is often very revealing of the interests and character of the owner.
One formal way of arranging books is the classic library approach, that is by genre – fiction, non-fiction, history, art and so on. It’s probably one of the most popular ways to organise books in a domestic setting, explains Philip Blackwell, founder, Ultimate Library, ultimatelibrary.co.uk. Here are a few other ways to indulge your bookish ways.
See our decorating section for more inspirational ideas and advice
Some books are works of art in themselves. Don't hide these gems away; instead, show them off by displaying the front, rather than just the spine.
Get the look The shelves of this gently sloped bespoke design by interior designer Jo Berryman, joberryman.com, have a narrow lip to ensure that as much of each front cover as possible is on view.
If a book collection is likely to grow over the years, it's important to maximise any potential space in the house.
Get the look Turner Pocock, turnerpocock.co.uk, designed these fitted shelves and painted them in the same bronze paint as the skirting boards for a sleek finish. This is the Hicks' Hexagon wallpaper, £82 a roll, at Designer Wallpapers, designerwallpapers.co.uk.
Create a studios look for your home office by lining opposite walls with bookcases – these are by Jesse, jesse.it. Keep the look clean with a glass-topped table in between and use a library ladder to access the top shelves.
Get the look The Library Ladder Company, thelibraryladdercompany. co.uk, make them bespoke.
Make a departure from the usual full-to-bursting bookshelves by spacing books out and leaning them at different angles for a more contemporary look. Keeping the box shapes regular also creates a modern finish.
Get the look For similar shelves, try the modular Billy bookcase, £114, Ikea, ikea.com. The Conran Shop, conranshop.co.uk, has the Le Corbusier chaise longue by Cassina in a choice of finishes, from £3,042.
A library should exude personality and character, and none does it better than this quirky and intriguing display. Use colour to showcase your style, and when all else fails, throw in a few curios and mismatched fabric. After all, this is very much your space to play with, so go big and bold.
Rethink the way your books are displayed. Instead of piling up art books on a coffee table, create an artful display by choosing volumes and hanging them by their spines in colours of the rainbow.
Get the look The Booken is designed by Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay, £379, Lema, femamobifi.com.
Every approach will be driven by the shelf height, of course. Books are beautiful, tactile objects so where space allows, organise by height with sections of upright books broken up by groups lying down with objects mixed in.
Arranging them in chronological order – that is, the order in which you bought them rather than the date that they were written – is another great way of mapping a life in books.
With a mezzanine, think about carrying a set of shelves through both levels for a statement impact. Cochrane Design can devise a similar scheme of elegant shelves, which stand either side of cabinet doors, which can double-up as storage.
Those looking for a more stylised result, which will have a greater impact on the overall look and feel of the room, will arrange books in blocks of colour. Some will go for one accent – we've seen entire walls in Penguin paperbacks, for example – others will want a kaleidoscope effect with different pops of colour.