I’ve long been convinced that books are the best form of décor. OK, maybe not the best form of décor. But definitely one of the budget-friendliest and most efficient around. Of course, I haven’t approached this matter unbiasedly. I love a good book, and therefore, I love any reason to buy a good book. And if I can convince myself that a book’s value doesn’t expire the moment I’ve read it, I can justify spending a good portion of my monthly budget further fleshing out my home library. But even knowing how absolutely predisposed I am to believe that book décor is the best décor, I still think I’m right about this.
For starters, a book’s purpose isn’t merely decorative. You don’t buy a book to add a pop of color to a room, to fill in a bare corner, or to otherwise adorn a space that needs adorning. You buy a book because you want to read it. And sure, once you’ve finished it, maybe it can provide that much-needed pop of color, or fill in that bare corner, or adorn that space that needs adorning. But the book had an intellectual raison d’etre before it had a decorative one—you’ve just done the efficient thing and repurposed it. You’ve effectively gotten twice the bang for your buck, which is certainly more than any needless bauble can provide. (Even if that needless bauble happens to be the perfect accent piece for your coffee table.)
This, of course, brings me to my second point: Books are budget-friendly. Even the tiniest home décor items can get surprisingly expensive, and when you’re furnishing a full house, those costs add up. It pays to save where you can—even if you’re only saving $20. And since—as we’ve already established—books had a life before they ever decorated that shelf of yours, you can rest assured knowing you’re not just saving $20—you’re scoring a seriously sweet deal in the process.
Perhaps the most beautiful part of book décor, though, is not its overwhelming efficiency—but instead, its inherent flexibility. Because most book collections are composed of relatively small, relatively uniform parts, they can be remixed any which way. The books lining your window sill could just as easily be turned sideways and stacked on top of your nightstand. Those sleek books on your coffee table could beautifully elevate one of your planters. Those cookbooks you tucked away in a drawer could, instead, line your countertop and add a little texture to your kitchen. You can turn them vertically or horizontally, sort them by color or alphabet, stack them or leave them on their own. Their versatility is immense.
Put simply, book décor is great because it works for just about anyone. Anyone can find a book they want to devour. Anyone can find a home for their latest read. And anyone can work a collection of books into their space—no matter how vast or how tight, no matter how cluttered or how empty, and no matter how vibrant or how neutral. Books are the answer to so many of life’s home décor questions. And the best part? You probably already own everything you need to give it a try.
This textured interior highlights book décor in its most classic iteration: a wall lined with shelves upon shelves of books. The rest of the space is relatively neutral, giving the books a chance to up the vibrancy of the room. And since they’re organized haphazardly (or at least, not sorted by color), your eye dances across the variety, rather than getting distracted by a single focal point.
This up-close shelfie offers a glimpse of a perfectly curated collection of plants, candles, and—of course—books. Here, books don’t serve as the star of the show. Instead, they play a supporting role to the myriad other stunning pieces this decorator owns. (It’s worth noting, though, that many of these pieces aren’t just pretty—they’re also practical.)
Small Space Solution
Got tons of books but no space for a bookshelf? This shelfie offers an excellent solution. Instead of springing for a massive bookcase, opt for a small space-friendly book cart. Fill it with books, or intersperse your reads with other beloved objects. Treat it like you would a bar cart—just keep the emphasis on books, not booze.
There are some books you’ll re-read time and time again, and some books you’ll only reference occasionally. And while you’ll want to keep the former easily accessible, you can bear to get a little more creative with the latter. One easy way to do this? Find a few that look good together, stack them on top of each other, and slide them under a plant, vase, or some other decorative object. They’ll complement your décor without hogging space on your beloved bookshelves.
Nothing delivers home library vibes more efficiently than a genuine bookcase—especially one crafted from hearty wood and attached to a desk. If you love a vintage accent as much as you love a good read, consider splurging on an antique bookcase, and let it live in your living room, your home office, or even your foyer.
If you’ve naturally amassed a bunch of books in the same shade, you’ve been delivered an invitation to do a little color-blocking. Of course, you don’t have to take this invitation up on its offer. But if you love the way a monochromatic corner looks, why not give it a try?
Many strict minimalists have taken to turning books around, so that their spines are hidden. This leaves bookshelves looking subtle, unobtrusive, and of course, as minimalist as possible. While this approach tends to be a decidedly impractical one, this thoughtful decorator has used a freestanding book cart to their advantage. If you want to see what books are lining your shelves, you can simply turn the cart around. Form and function in equal measure? Yes, please.
Messes are rarely a good idea. But for some reason, disorganized bookshelves look absolutely lovely—dreamy, even. That’s not to say you should subject yourself to disarray intentionally. But maybe if you find yourself trending naturally in that direction, don’t fight it.
This thoughtfully assembled book stack is crisp, clean, and colorful—and it’s sure to make an excellent addition to any corner of a home. While aqua and white might not be your palette, you can easily find a collection that fits your aesthetic. Remember: It doesn’t have to be complicated to be cute.
Clean and Simple
Since this home’s color scheme is so restrained, the décor is all about texture: the shiny glass, the lush greenery, the crisp wood. Books fit seamlessly into this aesthetic. Thanks to their sharp lines and pared-down palettes, books a geometric complement to the more organic forms around them without overwhelming the space.
Maximalists will surely appreciate this dynamic corner, which makes the most of rich colors, metallic vases, vibrant plants, and textured stacks of books. If your aesthetic isn’t at all this layered, don’t worry—you can pick and choose elements that you want to integrate into your own space.
Try stacking books in a corner and placing plants on top of them. Or using the rich tones on your walls to bring out the colors in some of your favorite reads.
This bohemian take on the shelfie does color-blocking in a way that doesn’t feel distracting. Whereas pops of red, then orange, then yellow, then green, then blue form full rainbows on bookshelves, these subdued shades work together to create a beautiful, sophisticated whole. Not to mention, plants and books always make for an excellent pair.
When your book is as pretty as this one, don’t overthink things: Put it on full display. Pair it with an equally lovely planter, place it on your coffee table, or make it the focal point of your nightstand. If you love looking at something, make sure it’s featured prominently in your home.
Straight and Narrow
In lieu of bookshelves, you can always create an array of book stacks that run along a single wall in your room. In many ways, these stacks will act like wall art or pieces of furniture: They’ll fill bare spaces in a visually dynamic way.
Sometimes, assembling a beautiful shelfie isn’t a matter of buying a ton of décor—or even buying a ton of books—but instead about repurposing what you do have in a visually interesting way. This decorator has relied on the basics: a plant, two antique reads, and a couple objets d’art. And the result is an absolute masterpiece.
Treat your prettiest books as an opportunity to curate genuinely interesting spaces. Combine them with planters, sculptures, art. And maybe even use them as an excuse to buy that interesting bauble you’ve been eyeing for some time now. You might not have had a place for it, but now you do.
Plenty of Space
If you’ve got space to fill and tons of books to fill it with, do yourself a favor and buy a handful of bookshelves. Odds are, you’ll only amass more books in your lifetime. And if you don’t find somewhere great to put them now, you’ll end up with a mess of a library later.
Since many of us read before bed, our nightstands are a natural home for any and all of our favorite reads. When in doubt, keep a lamp, a few books, and maybe a journal by your bedside, and call it a day. The last thing you need is to look clutter in the face before you’re trying to catch some Zs.
Look at the colors that frequently appear in your book collections, and consider what décor you have that may complement those shades. This decorator, for example, has an array of red tones. And they’ve thoughtfully paired those vibrant books with a plant in an equally rich green.