When it comes to planning and designing your home or decorating a new room, thinking about storage may not seem like the most amazing aspect. When thinking about how to store books in your home, you may be tempted to buy a bookcase, put it in a corner, and use it to store your favorite books.
However, organizing and displaying your books doesn’t have to be uninspiring. There are ways to make caring for your books fun and interesting, whether that’s by incorporating colors, adding decor, or getting creative with storage solutions.
Here, we spoke to a range of experts—from bookstore owner to interior design enthusiast—to find the most exciting and inspiring ways to store your books at home…
Work with the space you have
Whether you store your books in your living room, bedroom, or somewhere else—and regardless of whether you have a small or large space to work with—don’t be afraid to embrace all the space you have. “You don’t feel obligated to keep all your books in one area,” says Sarah Unsworth, a part-time elementary school teacher, interior design enthusiast and content creator who is currently renovating a second-class Victorian apartment. ‘In our house, we have a distinct library wall, yet we still have books in other rooms. All of my cookbooks are in the kitchen on an open shelf as a functional and decorative way to display them and I put my children’s books on picture shelves so they can look at the covers rather than the spines .”
Megan Warrington, owner of Denny’s Books, an independent bookstore in Thames Ditton, Surrey, agrees. “In addition to keeping my books on my bookshelves, I have piles of them around my bedroom and in other places in my house that they wouldn’t traditionally be found,” she says. “It adds personality and grabs people’s attention when they come over – it’s the start of a conversation.”
Try different storage solutions
When you think of book storage, your mind will likely automatically conjure up images of bookshelves and bookcases. However, there is no reason why you should not be inspired by your own storage solutions. “There are so many great ways you can store your books, so get creative,” encourages Megan Warrington. Frame the entryway with books, use wall space if you have high ceilings and don’t be afraid to think outside the box—you can even make coffee tables out of books! If you don’t have room to display all your books, rolling carts are a great storage solution for the books you read often I have one from IKEA that I use in my house.”
If you’re going to choose a traditional way to store your books, think about how you can add a touch that fits your personality. Color, for example, is a great way to do this. “In our home, our bookshelves are a standout piece,” Sarah Unsworth says. “When designing our book storage, I started with a cooler color for the shelves themselves, and chose to paint them blue from Farrow & Ball. I then added hot colors to the knobs and placed decorative items on the shelves in contrasting shades – like using a combination of blue/green and hot colors like Pink and orange really make for an elegant look.”
As a best tip, when organizing large books such as coffee table books, be sure to think about storing them in a way that keeps them in top condition. Kate Grimwade, director of production at The Folio Society, explains: “Large, very heavy books benefit from horizontal storage. Otherwise, no matter how good the book is, the pull of gravity over time can create pressure on the spine.”
Color code for your group
Once you’ve chosen where to store your books, it’s time to think about how you’ll organize them.
Color coding has become a very popular way of ordering books over the past few years – everywhere from social media to in-house magazines provide bright, rainbow-colored inspiration. Color coding is the method chosen by Natasha Poliszczuk, a writer and book editor currently working on a home renovation project. “I organize by color and then by size within color,” she explains. “It is very pleasing to the eye and imposes a sense of calm organization on my many, many books.”
Of course, Natasha finds people asking “How do you find the book you want?” Given that it chose to organize by color rather than type or alphabetical order. her answer? “I have a particularly good memory for book jackets/spine colors, so it never proved to be a problem. When I was younger and dreamed of being a librarian, I stuck to the system of organizing by author name, but that works for now.”
Sort by genre
The color-coding result of your bookshelves is sure to be stunning, as evidenced by Natasha’s bookshelves and the bookcases of countless interior enthusiasts. However, if you’re not sure about sorting by color but want to see if it could work for you, try making it more manageable by sorting by type first and then by color within this. “In order to organize my seven bookshelves, I had to divide them into main sections first,” Sarah Unsworth says. “Then I color-code within each genre, making my books easier to find.”
Of course, color coding is not for everyone. To find your books easily, alphabetical order certainly looks the most attractive. However, organizing by type can be a great way to keep your book storage looking aesthetic while still being functional, such as good housekeeping Assistant Digital Editor Bethan-Rose Jenkins found out. Working with a large cube-shaped bookcase, she decided to group her books into the following types:
- public imagination
- rum coms
- Feminist readings
- Plays and poetry
- cooking art
The result of organizing in this way worked out well for Bethan, who found this practical and striking. “I can easily find all the books I need this way, and it creates a tidy and fun look,” she says. “Plus, for anyone who is concerned about their bookshelf looking unattractive if organized by genre, this isn’t the case. What I’ve found is that different genres tend to follow similar color palettes for covers, so there’s a natural element to coordinating on each shelf.”
“For example, the feminist reading cube is red and pink while fiction books tend to be so
Blue/green or yellow/orange. Additionally, resumes are generally in black and white with red, and children’s books are more primary colors and pastel rom-coms. On the other hand, classics tend to have black spines or be designed in muted colors such as olive green.
“The result is a bookcase that’s tidy and easy to move around while still looking like a statement piece.”
Add a character
Your books have the ability to tell people a lot about you, convey your interests, hobbies, and passions. So, the way you organize and display them should reflect this as well.
Adding decorative elements to your shelves or storage units can add character and depth to your book collection. “The bookcase should be an ever-evolving pleasure,” says Natasha Poliszczuk. “If the book had a particularly cool cover, I’d flip it over to face outward, library-style. I also add the ends of the notebooks (I have a great pair of Art Deco-style pulls and some artichoke-shaped notebooks I found at Homebase) and display fresh flowers on my shelves.”
Megan Warrington agrees that facing the books outside can be a great way to display her favorite readings, choosing to do so in her home and library. She’s also chosen a pair of Typo dinosaur themed notebook ends, which make her smile and add her personality. “Adding sentimental value to your bookshelves will make them even more special,” she says. “For example, I keep my photos and even have a piece of wine from a meaningful wedding I attended years ago.”
In general, when you display your books, you should tell your guests as much about you as the titles on your shelves show your interests. “No matter how you arrange your book storage, keep it unique and livable,” says Bethan Rose Jenkins. “Books are meant to be lifted off the shelves and read or passed through. If you add candles, remove them from your bookcase occasionally and light them and the plants should be mobile year-round depending on the best light conditions. Avoid creating something too innovative You also want to enjoy using your space by making it as fun, functional and private as possible.”