Is there anything quite as charming as a beautifully-assembled book stack? This timeless decor accent checks off all the boxes—it's versatile, it's a conversation-starter, it's always evolving, and most importantly: you most likely already own all the ingredients to whipping up your own Insta-worthy stack.
That said, there are a few components to consider before you start tossing your literature around. Composition, subject matter, and location are all examples of elements to consider when culling a great book stack, which is why we tapped three experts to share their secrets. Ahead, eleven useful tips to employ before arranging your very own at-home stack.
Consider Subject Matter
First and foremost, your books should reflect your personal taste and interests. “A good book stack starts and ends with good subject matter,” Rose Crosby, founder of Lauren Kirloskar, tells MyDomaine. “Of course, the cover and general aesthetic of the book play a role, but ultimately, if you have an interesting diversification of topics (art, architecture, music, interior design, history, travel, etc.), the rest follow suit.”
Go From Largest to Smallest
It may sound obvious, but stacking your books from biggest to smallest is usually the best way to go. “For a well-rounded, sophisticated look you want to go from biggest to smallest, and try to incorporate varied topics and colors,” Kirloskar advises. “At least one book in there should offer a pop of color or stand out.”
Place In Eye-Catching Locations
“My favorite places for books stacks are the ones that always catch your eye and make you stop to appreciate them,” Kirkloskar says. “For me, this is my dresser, a sideboard in the living room, and of course, the staple coffee table stack.”
Add in Small Trinkets
Once you’ve culled your best books into one stack, add a trinket or two and consider it the literary cherry on top. “The best accompaniments to a book stack are small memorable items,” Kirloskar says. “I picked up four coordinating blue ceramics while in China last year that offer a depth to the books surrounding it. I've also got a small silver airplane that I put on top of a stack."
Kelly Croteau, creative director at Maison Plage, agrees. “I love to add vintage ashtrays, especially ones from hotels, Gucci or Hermès accessories, candle sticks, flower arrangements, or trinket boxes,” she shares.
Organize by Color
A playful approach to making your book stack really pop is coordinating by color. “If you have a selection of neutral-themed books in whites, creams, beiges, blacks, and grays, this is our go-to color palette for a sophisticated look,” Tracey Sawyer, founder of Sawyer & Company, says. “Alternatively, you can keep it eclectic with bright colors thrown in to suit a more bohemian space.”
Stack It Low
You can place a book stack just about anywhere, but Sawyer suggests stacking them lower. “Keeping books on a long, low shelf keeps heaviness towards the floor, while wall art and lighter shelving draws the eye up and keeps the space feeling organized and clean,” she notes.
Polish Off With Travel Treasures
The best part of a truly great book stack is its ability to mirror your interests in one perfectly-packaged vignette. “Incorporating small sculptures or souvenirs collected during travels is a great way to make your book stack feel like it's truly yours,” Sawyer says. “It accomplishes storytelling in a multitude of ways in a small, designated area.”
Think Outside the Coffee Table
The first thing that comes to mind when you think book stack is probably a coffee table, but there are so many other spots in your home to host your literary collections.
“I have books in every room, however, my favorites are fireplaces—stacked in front or inside if you don't use it—bedside tables, at the end of the bed on a bench, floor to ceiling shelves of books, and in offices, where they are great for inspiration,” Croteau says. “Underneath side tables and stacked on the side of sofas, too."
Don’t Be Too Precious With It
You don’t want your book stacks to feel cluttered, but Croteau also recommends not overthinking it. “Effortlessness and simplicity, nothing too put together,” she says. “I love a stack with an accent piece on top, something romantic and dreamy yet minimalistic.”
Vary the Color Hues
If you’re testing out the all-one-color stack, Croteau recommends mixing it up a bit. “When creating a stack or set that is based around color, I don't choose the exact same hue,” she says. “I choose different shades of the same color.”
Ditch the Book Jackets
A current trend in book stacks is opting for a more textural feel. “It depends on the look you are going for, but right now it is all about monochromatic clothbound books, taking off the book jackets, and seeing how the bindings look together when they are stacked,” Croteau shares.