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There’s perhaps no other single piece of furniture that better marries utility and design than a bookshelf. Not only are they quintessentially functional, offering a smart and streamlined storage option for books and more, but bookshelves can also easily be turned into aesthetically-pleasing design pieces.
Style one with books, photos, accessories and you instantly have a way to anchor or even divide a room, all while displaying your favorite items and showcasing your design sensibility. Not to mention that there’s no shortage of options out there, no matter whether you want a grand, mid-century modern wall unit that defines a room or a streamlined industrial shelf that fits in the corner of a small home office.
Admittedly, that sheer amount of options can be overwhelming, so we did the hard work for you, rounding up 12 of the best bookshelves that fit every want and need.
Best Overall: Blu Dot Browser Tall Bookcase
This option manages to be classic, but with a twist. The specs: Five shelves, coming in at nearly 7 feet tall and slightly over 3 feet wide, though with only a 17-inch depth to keep the shape from being too bulky and a wall-mount feature to help maximize space. To keep the style interesting, however, aluminum shelves are paired with wooden uprights, available in either a white/white oak or black/walnut pairing. Plus, it’s part of a shelving system that allows you to easily add on as many more shelves as you’d like.
Best For a Small Space: VASAGLE Bookcase 2-Tier Retro Bookshelf
Small spaces require maximum storage, which is why we appreciate that this two-tier shelf also houses a storage cabinet on the bottom. Despite its small size—it’s barely 4 feet tall—it can still hold up to 110 pounds. Available in either a dark walnut or lighter, burnished brown finish, it also has canted legs for a charming, retro effect.
Best Room Divider: CB2 Hi Gloss Bookcase Room Divider
Whether it’s a small studio apartment or an open concept living space that could use some definition, an open bookcase offers the perfect solution. Not only does it give you extra storage, but it also separates certain areas while still maintaining an open feel and not blocking out light. Try lining up two or three of these to do exactly that; the slanted shelves make for added visual interest whether or not they're stacked with books. Available in either a white hi-gloss or teak finish, this piece also works with a variety of design styles.
Best Ladder: All Modern Harrell Ladder Bookcase
We love this aesthetic for an office, particularly if space is tight. The ladder shape maximizes space, and this particular pick has the added benefit of not only four open shelves, but four drawers on the bottom as well for items you don't want on display. Plus, the dark espresso finish is surprisingly versatile.
Best Traditional: Crate and Barrel Kendall Cocoa Bookcase
Traditional and timeless, this handcrafted bookcase features four slim legs on the base and a touch of streamlined molding at the top. Made of solid maple and maple veneer, naturally occurring knots and a warm brown finish further enhance the classic aesthetic. However, it also comes in soft white and warm gray shades for those who prefer slightly lighter, more modern tones.
Best Mid-Century: All Modern Woodcrest Etagre
Four open shelves and boomerang side posts, coupled with a walnut finish, make for a spot-on mid-century vibe. Still, there’s also a touch of whimsy to the design that would make it a sophisticated addition to any kid’s room or even a nursery. And at 5.5 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide, the bookshelf iteself if pretty compact and can be easily incorporated into any space.
Best Low Profile: World Market Walnut Brown Wood Ashlyn Bookshelf
Sure, you could use this short shelf as a bookcase, but its dimensions (60 inches wide and 28 inches tall) also mean it doubles perfectly as a console or media stand. Each of the four shelf compartments is also a different size, offering both plenty of storage options, as well as a unique way to display any of your favorite coffee table books, mementos, or fake plants.
Best Budget Buy: Giantex 7-Tier Bookshelf
If you haven’t yet done some furniture shopping on Amazon, we suggest doing so, ASAP. A treasure trove of great finds, it’s also a great place to seek out wallet-friendly pieces. Case in point: This tall and narrow, seven-tier shelf, available in either white or black. While the shelves themselves are fairly small, for those looking for a slim bookshelf to fit in a corner to just to hold a few odds and ends, this can’t be beat. Not to mention that it's a total steal at the price.
Best Shelving Unit: Design Within 2 Bay Royal System Shelving
The Royal System is a wall-mounted shelving unit first designed in Denmark in 1948, which remained part of the country’s most successful furniture collection for three decades. Now it’s only available at DWR, and this two-shelf, three-drawer combo is a streamlined midcentury design that works equally well in bedrooms, kitchens, entryways—you name it.
Best Industrial: Room and Board Foshay Bookcases
Not only is the steel used to make this shelf incredibly durable, it’s also made from 99 percent recycled raw materials, a boon for those looking to make more sustainable furniture choices. Streamlined and sleek, the lacquered finish prevents the industrial design from coming across as cold or harsh, as does the mix of different sized separated shelves. Also nice: There are five sizes of this bookcase available, so you'll find the perfect fit for your space.
Best From IKEA: Ikea Billy Oxberg Bookcase With Glass Doors
Fun fact: It’s estimated that one of Ikea’s Billy bookcases is sold every five seconds somewhere in the world. The original design launched in 1979 and has spawned many variations, though we’re partial to this simple white option. Five adjustable shelves can be arranged according to your specific needs, while the glass door cabinets not only keep dust at bay. And, in true Ikea fashion, the wallet-friendly price can’t be beat.
Best Geometric: Foundry Select Brie Display Shelf
Shelves of varying heights with plenty of corners and drops add a fun twist on the standard, linear bookcase. Ideal for displaying your favorite keepsakes, it’s also open on both sides and could easily double as a room divider, as well. Mixed materials—namely metal and a wood-toned veneer—complement the geometric shape perfectly, and would work well with either more rustic or industrial décor.