These Living Room Bookshelf Ideas Will Inspire You To Grow Your Library

Shelfie-lovers, this one's for you.

Updated 10/23/19

 Design: Lou Watkins

While the term "shelfie" may have been kicking around the internet since 2014, as far as we're concerned, this trend has officially reached timeless status. (Who can resist an artful arrangement of books, plants, and knickknacks when placed just-so on a sleek bookshelf?) But the latest inspiration rooms we're loving place a *little* more emphasis on the bookcase's original purpose—that is, storing books.

Whether you're a voracious reader who spends half her monthly budget at the local indie bookstore or just someone who appreciates flipping through a few choice periodicals, there's no denying that a pair of stately bookshelves in the living room lends an elevated, well-appointed air to your space. And with fall in full-swing, we can't think of anything that sounds cozier than curling up in your own personal home library with a cup of coffee and a favorite read.

Luckily, no matter if you're blessed with built-ins or just rocking a few IKEA KALLAXes, these designs will fill you with the shelf-confidence you need to make your living room's bookshelves really stand out. (Just don't be surprised if these stacked shelves inspire you to pick up a little more reading material of your own—don't say we didn't warn you.)

Here are our most inspiring bookshelf design ideas for the living room.

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Out In Front

Rule-breakers, rejoice: this expertly-styled shelf shows there's no reason to stay inside the lines. Popping an oversized piece of art out in front of the shelves creates a playful, eye-catching effect we love.

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Roll With It

Blame it on one-too-many viewings of "Beauty & The Beast" when we were kids, but there's something downright dreamy about a rolling library-style ladder. Pick up a reclaimed piece to add vintage flair to your shelves.

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Don't Resist the Pull

If your built-in bookshelves include lower cabinets, show 'em off. Tactile leather pulls replace standard-issue knobs, bringing a more custom look to the entire unit.

Rejuvenation Beckett Finger Pull
Rejuvenation Beckett Leather Finger Pull $20
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04 of 19

Ship(lap) Shape

Just when we thought we'd seen every shiplap application under the sun, this clever twist comes to steal our hearts. Add a ton of texture in a small space by confining the shiplap to shelf lining—unlike covering full walls with the material, limiting the application to your bookcase helps you avoid overpowering a petite room.

Stikwood Shiplap
Stikwood Hamptons Peel-And-Stick Shiplap $12
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05 of 19

Floating Free

Floating shelves aren't just for the kitchen. Opt for an ultra-airy feel by employing them in a living room—they balance out heavier architectural elements beautifully.

CB2 Floating Shelf
CB2 Calvin High-Gloss Floating Shelf $60
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06 of 19

Dark & Handsome

Who knew built-ins could stand out so much? A bit of on-trend navy paint transforms these shelves into something truly special.

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Creative Contrasts

Not ready to commit to a full-on dark blue bookcase? Opt to paint just the back wall of each shelf to add a bold pop of color that will flatter all your favorite knickknacks.

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Fit To Be Framed

There are two schools of thought when it comes to wall-mounted TVs: one suggests making the TV as unobtrusive as possible through various forms of camouflage...but we're partial to the opposite approach. Frame your TV with shelves and let it be the family focalpoint it is. (Bonus points if you manage to add woven-cane cabinets at the bottom like the ones in this home.)

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Monochrome Moment

Art inspires life inspires art. If you're lucky enough to have a truly showstopping masterpiece at home, play it up—framing it out with wall-mounted bookshelves in a similar hue can amp up the impact of an already awe-inspiring piece.

DWR Royal System Shelving Unit
Royal System Shelving Unit B with Sliding Door Cabinets $3141
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High-Style Tile

Working within a smaller space? Maximize your impact with a unique tile treatment that does double-duty emphasizing your shelves and providing a sleek surface for mixing cocktails when reading hour is over.

Fireclay Tile
Fireclay Tile Fluorite 3 x 9 Tile $28
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Bold Colorblocking

Drop it low. We love the optical illusion of "extending" a few low shelves by colorblocking the wall above with the same paint color. Not only does it add a whimsical touch to standard floating shelves, but it lets you play with proportion too...and add lighting right above your favorite titles.

Shades Of Light Globe Sconce
Shades of Light Modern Milky Globe Bath Sconce $64
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12 of 19

Bookworm's Paradise

Everyone knows that the key to a great bookshelf arrangement is "editing", right? Maybe not. We love how Lou Watkins is rewriting the rules, using an impressive wall of nonstop books as a cool backdrop for her ever-rotating art installations.

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Wonder Wall

One more way to get your wallpaper fix: by dressing up boxy white built-ins a la designer Olga Naiman.

Cole and Son Luxor Wallpaper
Cole & Son Luxor Black and White Wallpaper $125
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Lit From Within

Give your favorite book (and a few hundred of its best friends) the star treatment it deserves with gallery-style light fixtures mounted right on the shelves. Nothing but the best for a literary masterpiece, right?

Serena & Lily Gallery Sconce
Serena & Lily Gallery Sconce $498
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Bookshelf Border

This might be the coolest way to draw your eye upward that we've ever seen. A long and skinny expanse of books positioned at the top third of the room's walls brings a personality-filled accent to this cozy den.

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Issue Resolution

More of a magazine reader? We hear you. This minimal ledge system makes for the perfect place to display all your favorite glossies (and swap them out whenever the latest issues arrive.)

Crate & Barrel Beaumont Ledge
Crate & Barrel Beaumont White Book Ledge $25
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Wood You Rather

We've never seen dark woodgrain paneling look so chic. Take a tip from Alfie + Oz and let it shine through in a whole new light against bright white shelves.

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Stagger It

Take a cue from the grade-school cubbies of yesteryear and opt for a more boxy bookshelf that infuses a little of that childhood whimsy into your space.

Urban Outfitters Modular Shelf System
Urban Outfitters Modular Stacking Storage System $179 $149
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Work The Angles

Adding angular inserts to a standard built-in bookshelf brings an edgy architectural element we love...and creates opportunities for more playful styling arrangements, too.

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