Beautiful book storage ideas – for an ever-growing collection

Books bring color and character to your home. Store them stylishly with solutions ranging from space-saving bespoke schemes to freestanding, modular and floating shelves

Book storage ideas
(Image credit: Paul Massey)

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 organized is often very revealing of the interests and character of the owner – something we all learnt during pandemic video calls.

See: Small living room storage ideas – to clear clutter in a compact space

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. Here are a few other ways to indulge your bookish ways.

1. Go for a bespoke design

Book storage ideas

Photography/Paul Massey

(Image credit: Future)

Creating your very own library in a living room or home office with a built-in wall-to-wall design works in both classic and contemporary homes alike. By combining open shelving and closed cupboards, you can have a display of books and objets d’art while also hiding away heavier items down below. 

Alcoves are an obvious place to add floor-to-ceiling storage, even if your room is small as bespoke solutions can utilise the full height of the space.

‘Although this may not sound like it will make much of a difference the reality is that a bespoke design will offer, on average, 40% more space,’ says Rachal Hutcheson, national retail manager at Sharps. Finish off with a block colour and let the books provide the detail.

2. Utilize hallways

Book storage ideas

Photography/Paul Massey

(Image credit: Future)

Try thinking outside the box, as shown here in this up-and-over bespoke storage unit. Hallways and landings are perfect places to maximise. These spaces can have a dedicated function, but keep the look understated to ensure a cohesive link between each room.

3. Display beautiful books to show off their covers

Book storage ideas

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

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, have a narrow lip to ensure that as much of each front cover as possible is on view.

4. Build bookshelves into alcoves to max out space

Book storage ideas

(Image credit: Alexander James/ Sean Mayer)

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 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 at Designer Wallpapers.

5. Line study walls with bookshelves for a library look

Book storage ideas

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Create a studio look for your home office by lining opposite walls with bookcases – these are by Jesse. Keep the look clean with a glass-topped table in between and use a library ladder to access the top shelves. 

Get the look 

Bespoke shelves are best for a neat finish but you can achieve this look with ready-made formulas. Bear in mind that this effect is most successful when natural light is maximized – or when you invest in good lighting design if the room is light-starved.

6. Leave books room to breathe

Book storage ideas

(Image credit: James Merrell)

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 

Ssssh! You can create this look with book shelves from Ikea (but don't tell anyone). 

7. Combine displays of curios with book storage ideas

Book storage ideas

(Image credit: Alicia Taylor)

A library should exude personality and character, and none does it better than this quirky and intriguing display. Use color 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.

Get the look

There are no hard and fast rules to creating a well-curated display but leaving gaps for curios at regularly spaced intervals will create a neat finish, while placing larger books and larger curios lower and smaller ones higher can help you achieve balance, and picking a limited color scheme will help the display to feel calm rather than chaotic.

8. Choose a contemporary book storage idea

Book storage ideas

(Image credit: Simon Bevan)

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 of Raw Edges.

9. Use vertical space for book display and storage

Book storage ideas

(Image credit: Ben Anders)

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.

10. Display books in spine colors

book storage ideas

(Image credit: Future)

Those looking for a more stylized result, which will have a greater impact on the overall look and feel of the room, will arrange books in blocks of color. 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 color.

Get the look

It's a lovely way to spend a rainy Sunday...

11. Build book storage into a 'secret door'

Book storage ideas

(Image credit: Future)

If you want a wall of books to show off your ever-expanding collection, but find a doorway in the way, don't let it put you off – turn your door into a storage unit for books so that when closed, you get the library look you want, on the wall you want.

Get the look

You will need a carpenter to strengthen the door frame, heavy-duty hinges and – likely – hidden castors on the bottom of the door/book shelf to take the weight of your tomes.

12. Blend books with your color scheme

Book storage ideas

(Image credit: Studio Ashby/Andrew Martin Interior Designer Review Vol.24)

If you love books, it's likely that you already have enough books to make this work. Otherwise, you can anticipate the pleasure of trawling antiques' markets for books to suit your color scheme.

Get the look

Use book spine colors as your accent shades within the room, limiting yourself to just two or three colors for a restful result. This room by Studio Ashby is featured in the Andrew Martin Interior Designer Review Vol.24

13. Create literary reflections with mirrored shelves

Book storage ideas - stylish bookcases

Versailles ashmolean bookshelves in Antique Bronze, H218 x W89 x D28cm, Oka

(Image credit: Oka)

Create a ‘hall of mirrors’ with these impressive hand-made statement pieces. Six fixed mirrored glass shelves feature an antiqued finish, edged with wood painted antique gold – every inch is mirrored, including the undersides. Line them up and watch light bounce.

What is the best way to store books?

Book storage should be undertaken with care if the books are valuable to you. Packing them in tightly against an external wall without any air for circulation could lead to them becoming damp and mouldy. Equally, storing books above a radiator can cause books to buckle. 

Ideally, put book shelves where temperatures won't fluctuate too much and on interior walls that can maintain a dry atmosphere.