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24 Living Room Bookshelf Ideas To Inspire You To Grow Your Library

living room with dark blue couch, floating bookshelves on wall behind

Design Stiles

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 love 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.

01 of 24

Place Art Out In Front

bookshelf surrounding artwork

Morse Design

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 the center of the shelves creates a playful, eye-catching effect we love.

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Roll With It

living room with navy blue bookshelf and rolling ladder attached

Fire Finish Interiors

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. It adds a certain charm and works well if you have taller shelves with novels just out of your reach. Pick up a reclaimed piece to add vintage flair to your shelves.

03 of 24

Frame Your Televesion

framed tv with bookshelves

House Nine Interior Design

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 focal point it is.

04 of 24

Try Bold Color Blocking

dark green long horizontal bookshelves

Daniel Triassi

Drop it low. We love the optical illusion of "extending" a few low shelves by color blocking 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.

05 of 24

Add Some Flair With Wallpaper

white bookshelves with wallpaper backing, blue couch

Olga Naiman

One more way to get your wallpaper fix: by dressing up boxy white built-ins a la designer Olga Naiman. Adding fun prints and colors can help showcase your home library with ease. You can choose to add wallpaper to the entire back of the shelving or pick and choose certain ones to create interest and intrigue.

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Cast a Spotlight

dark bookshelves with lights attached above

Sita Montgomery Interiors

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

07 of 24

Make a Bookshelf Border

modern living room with a bookshelf border

In Honor of Design

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. Adding a row of artwork above only adds a creative edge to your artistic display.

08 of 24

Showcase Your Favorite Issues

thin white floating shelves displaying various magazine


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.)

09 of 24

Stack Those Floating Shelves

stacked sets of floating shelves serving as a bookcase

Design Stiles

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. As a bonus, stacking floating shelves creates a stunning illusion that is properly displayed without any furniture blockage.

10 of 24

Keep Things Simple

midcentury modern glass case with books tucked away inside

Allie Wilson Home

If you don't have a ton of space or want to keep things understated, we totally get it. Grabbing a vintage or midcentury modern style shelving unit and dedicating certain portions to your books is an ideal option. You don't have to sacrifice your love of literature due to limited space.

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Create a Colorful Masterpiece

books arranged by color

Our Cliftonwood Home

If you really want your at-home library to shine, you don't just have to focus on the shelving. Try organizing the books together by color. The rainbow trend is eye-catching and creates an artistic masterpiece in its own right.

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Get Playful With Bookends

bookshelf with different knick knacks used as bookends

K Shan Design

Another way to highlight your favorite novels is by using bookends. However, what you use is entirely up to you and a great way to show some personality. Any type of heavy knick-knack, vintage dećor item, or even a houseplant will do the trick.

13 of 24

Frame Things Up

open doorway with bookshelves all the way around

East and Lane

Don't just make a statement with your books—make an entrance. Add bookcases or shelving around the doorway leading into your living room to create a framing effect. If you want to give the impression of a larger space, match the walls and shelves to create a seamless appearance.

14 of 24

Play With Color and Symmetry

ocean blue symmetrical bookcases with brown leather seating

Molly Bruno Interiors

Displaying your collection of books can be done in a variety of ways. Experimenting with color and symmetry is an easy way to ensure your bookcases are tidy and sleek yet don't steal away from what you're truly trying to display. In the living room shown here, the blue bookcases are already a strong focal point. Still, the close attention to detail regarding the shelves and the item placements on each one create a balanced and sophisticated aesthetic.

15 of 24

Try Sleek and Silver

silver shelves that hold various items and books

Dan Rak Design

Rather than going with wooden bor boxed in shelving, go for a metallic modern version instead. The simple, silver shelving blends into the wall with ease and doesn't take up too much space. It's an ideal option if you have wallpaper or a paint color you aren't wanting to cover up with traditional bookcases.

16 of 24

Go Wall to Wall

white bookshelf that takes up entire bed

Domm Dot Com

No need to limit your collection—take up an entire wall if you have to! Turning your book collection into an accent wall is an incredible conversation starter and puts all your books on display, so you're never too far from a great read. You can also keep your couch close by to create a cozy reading space.

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Try Something Minimal

white shelves that have minimal stacked books

Katherine Carter

While there is absolutely no shame in lining up every inch of space with books, sometimes you may prefer a more minimal option. If you have a selection of carefully curated books you want to display, try only placing one or two on each shelf to allow them to shine. You can also opt to lay them horizontally and stack them one on top of the other since you'll have the extra space—the unordinary placement will definitely have people's attention.

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Contrast With Paneling

white bookshelves with black wood panelling behind them

Katie Martinez Design

Not ready to commit to a full-on dark 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. If your shelving is white or a lighter shade, the contrasts will add a bit of drama to your collection.

19 of 24

Make Use of Uneven Space

floating bookshelves built to fit uneven space in wall

Katie Martinez Design

Sometimes we have uneven space or layouts that we simply can't avoid—so make the most of them. Build your bookcase or install your shelves in a way that incorporates the architecture, like the living room shown here did with its shelves custom fit around the slightly raised wall. The dimensional effect was worth the extra effort.

20 of 24

Reverse Your Book Display

skinny and tall bookshelf that extends floor to ceiling

Lindsey Brooke Design

If your goal is to make a unique impression, then look no further. Rather than displaying the spines of your books, turn them around and display the opposite. If your walls and bookcase are a dark color, this works even better due to the contrast of the lighter pages with the furniture. Who doesn't love a bit of mystery, right?

21 of 24

Make Bold Choices

purple bookcase with orange couch and decorative curtain

Mary Patton Design

Who knew built-ins could stand out so much? A bit of on-trend royal purple paint transforms these shelves into something truly special. The bright bookcase paired with the orange couch truly catches your attention and makes for a fun atmosphere to discuss your favorite chapters with others.

22 of 24

Work The Angles

living room with matching bookcases, both with diamond shaped shelves in center

Marie Flanigan Interiors

If you don't want to stick to straight shelving concepts, we totally get it. Adding angular inserts to a standard built-in bookshelf brings an edgy architectural element we love. Plus, it creates opportunities for more playful styling arrangements.

23 of 24

Go Unconventional

hidden bookshelves and desk chairs used as bookshelves

Rikki Snyder

For those who prefer a more eclectic style, don't feel limited by your traditional shelving options. Shelves that are completely concealed by your books give a delightful floating appearance and can work as a place to display other dećor items. Take it a step further and use unorthodox items as a place to showcase your books—we're a big fan of the way this wall used old-school desks.

24 of 24

Keep It Compact

white small bookcases that are in line with fireplace

Rikki Snyder

Dealing with windows and bookcase placement can be tricky but is not impossible to work with. Opting for smaller bookshelves makes a gorgeous impression without blocking any of your natural light. If you happen to have a fireplace like the living room shown here, smaller bookcases can also create a streamlined appearance that looks lovely and cohesive.

Updated by
Lacey Ramburger
lacey ramburger bio
Lacey is an editor with 4 years of experience writing about and researching home décor trends, techniques, and helpful tips.