If you're a book lover, bookcases are essential pieces for your space. But even if you're not a big reader, a bookcase can be a fantastic addition to any room. The additional shelf space can help you display ornaments and photos, store your dishes and glassware, or house your media collection.
What types of bookcases and bookshelves are available?
A standard bookcase consists of a single standing unit with a backing and shelves. This is a good option for children's rooms and small spaces.
Ladder or leaning shelves look like steps propped up against the wall. This offers a rustic look and can create an open, airy feel in your room. It can also double as a desk if you place a deeper shelf at table height.
Étagère’s provide a bit more structure and are similar to a standard bookcase, but it has an open back. This feature makes the piece less imposing in décor schemes with light colors and contemporary pieces.
Consider a library wall if you have a large book collection. Although many wall libraries are built-in units, you can also achieve the look with several modular pieces. Some of these pieces may resemble low dressers with shelving on top, which gives you more concealed storage in drawers or behind doors.
To choose the right size bookcase for your wall, measure the height and width of the wall, taking existing furniture into account. Bookcase units can be anywhere from three to eight feet tall and come in a variety of widths. Pairing several narrow bookcases or ladder bookshelves together or opting for modular pieces can give you more flexibility.
Depth can also play a role in your choice. A depth of 12 inches tends to be common on standard bookcases, which can hold everything from hardbound books to mass-market paperbacks to some coffee table books. You can also choose ladder or scaffold shelves with smaller depths that primarily hold smaller hardbound and paperback books if you don't want to overwhelm a smaller or minimalist space.
How many shelves should my bookcase have?
The right number of shelves depends on your storage needs and your own personal preference. A bookcase can have as few as two shelves and as many as six. A couple of sparsely decorated shelves can look chic in an open contemporary space, whereas a large piece with five or six shelves is an excellent choice for an extensive library. For more flexibility, look for a piece with adjustable shelves.
What bookcase materials can I choose to help create a certain style?
Wood is a durable option that works well in a variety of spaces. It can complement mid-century and rustic pieces equally well.
Glass shelves help create the illusion of more space and can offer a modern feel to your room.
Metal has a contemporary look to it, and since it is very sturdy, it's a good choice for storing lots of heavy books. Once you've chosen a unit, don't be afraid to get creative with styling options.
Present books and other media in groups and add decorative objects and picture frames to give your bookcase a personal touch.
When you're adding a bookcase into your home, think beyond shelving. Integrating drawers can add storage options for smaller items such as remotes, cables, and other accessories. Cabinets and doors can transform a shelf into a hutch for dishes and glassware or keep toys and games organized.