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Publication Date: 2015-07-20


Stylish Ideas for Arranging and Organizing Bookcases

Showcase your personal style with organized arrangements of books, collectibles, and art.

Interior Design: Tim Clarke

Style-Defining Bookcases

You’ve come a long way from the days when you stored textbooks and music on metal shelving units from the hardware store. Today your beautiful home deserves bookcases that showcase your personal style with their organized arrangements of books, collectibles, and pieces of art. Browse some of our favorite designer rooms for inspiration.

Interior Design: Michael del Piero

Rest the Eye

Idea: As you’re organizing a bookcase, leave some empty space for the eye to rest.

This example: The bookcase’s original dark finish was lightened with a taupe-gray paint that blends with the white walls. As a result, the burnished brown leather of vintage volumes glows against the neutral background. Changing the orientation of books from shelf to shelf makes the display more interesting, as does the addition of artwork within and on top of the unit.

Interior Design: Frank Ponterio

Change Directions

Idea: Add interest to your arrangement by stacking books horizontally as well as vertically.

This example: Creating a library as comfortable as it is handsome, the designer paired warm wood bookcases (original to the house) with contemporary club chairs and an Egyptian Oushak rug. Grouping books by color and alternating the directions of the stacks adds interest to the display. Uppermost shelves on the right and left include objets d’art arranged to follow the ornate contours of the openings.

Photography: Tim Clarke

Stagger Accent Pieces

Idea: Vary the placement of art objects and collectibles to create a visual rhythm.

This example: Colorful book jackets pop against the warm glow of stained wood used for the bookcase as well as the furniture. The alternating locations of framed artwork and polished wood objects keep the eye moving from shelf to shelf.

Interior Design: Michael del Piero

Keep it Simple

Idea: Create a clean look by choosing a tone-on-tone scheme for bookcase contents. Add interest by mixing up shapes.

This example: This designer created a reading room with a European ambience rather than the handsome look of a traditional library. She placed hundreds of beautiful old books and artifacts at eye level within the taupe-painted bookcase, taking care to keep the contents’ proportions in keeping with the height of the shelves. An antique wood paddle hangs above the bookcase, calling attention to the display’s warm patinas.

Add Height for Interest

Idea: Increase visual appeal by stacking books horizontally to create pedestals for other objects.

This example: Within this bookcase, sleek shelves showcase books, seaforms, and architectural salvage against a neutral background. On the bottom shelf, a stack of books props up a large antique gear whose job it is to keep books vertical.

Click here for more stylish ideas to arrange and organize bookcases.


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