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81 Bookcases – That’s a LOT of books


Styling out bookcases might be one of our favorite “jobs” over here at EHD and we are definitely no stranger to filling them up with beautiful things. We’ve taught you how to style them in a few easy steps, what not to do with them, how to style 1 bookcase 4 ways and even showed you how I built mine. But, being the best bookcase stylist in the world won’t get you very far if you don’t have a good bookcase to get you started. So, today we have pulled together some of our favorites in three different sizes: small/accent, wide, and tall. And we have got some tips and tricks to styling each to get you started.

Emily Henderson_Shelves_Tall_WIde_Accent_Organization_Bookcase_2

Let’s start with small or accent bookcases. These work great in kids rooms, playrooms, a reading nook, or if you are looking to add a little bit of storage to somewhere that doesn’t have the room for a larger bookcase. Because of their small size, you can get a little more adventurous with color, carving, style or details. A few rules with these guys – as they are smaller you will want to visually break it up on the shelves with some decorative items so that your eye has some room to move around visually. Or, if you need them to house a lot of books then try breaking up the repetition by stacking books both horizontally and vertically.

Emily Henderson_Bookcases_Shelving_Organization_Accent_Roundup

1. Teal Bookcase | 2. Azure Bookcase | 3. Cube Unit Bookcase | 4. Montego 2 Shelf Bookcase | 5. Sadler Shelf Table | 6. Vintage Steel 2 Bin Bookcase | 7. Windham Shelf Bookcase | 8. Millsboro Bookcase | 9. Brass Periodical Shelf | 10. Knox Bookcase | 11. Kallax White Bookshelf | 12. Alto Bookcase | 13. Toscana Bookcase | 14. Darley 4 Cube Bookcase | 15. Sift Gunmetal Tower | 16. Mr Brown Fontana Bookshelf | 17. Ariel Bookcase | 18. PS 17 Shelf | 19. Deal Circular Bookshelf | 20. Jamese Bookcase | 21. Dover Bookcase | 22. Gold and White Accent Shelf | 23. Hiya Bookshelf | 24. Green Carved Wood Bookshelf | 25. Anderson Bookcase | 26. Metalwork Bookcase

I love #2 and we used it in our tween bedroom makeover. We have #5 coming up in a living room reveal soon and the proportions are great. #11 is always a good option for price and scale and #3 is so much fun for a kids room to help them stay organized.

Emily Henderson_Shelves_Tall_WIde_Accent_Organization_Bookcase_1

Moving onto Tall and Narrow bookcases. These are great contenders for a living room, dining room, or even bedroom if you have a little bit more room and need some storage. Because of their size and shape these can be a little bit intimidating when you go to style them out, but placing some large scale items on the shelves amongst the books will help you fill in the space without it feeling too heavy or too cluttered. You will also want to steer clear of anything too bitsy or tinket sized as it can start looking unorganized and busy. If you do have smaller items that you want to display then try and keep them in collections so that they visually don’t get lost. I am talking to you miniature shoe hoarders of America.

I do have a bone to pick with shelf-makers of America (like the one above) – we need more sides/support on our shelves so we don’t have to use quite so many bookends to keep the books erect. Even some simple crosses would do the job and keep those kids books from sliding off and onto the floor.

Emily Henderson_Shelves_Tall_WIde_Accent_Organization_Bookcase_3

Or if reading is not your thing then you can scrap the books altogether and throw some pretty objects up there like we did for Sylvia’s makeover. Either way – here are some big and tall ones:

Emily Henderson_Bookcases_Shelving_Organization_Tall_Roundup

1. Easmor Leaning Bookcase | 2. Onni Baookcase | 3. Stairway Wall Mounted Bookcase | 4. Parsons Tower | 5. Englewood Bookcase | 6. Gracie Bookcase | 7. Gabby Keaton Etagere | 8. Emerson Bookshelf | 9. Acrylic Leaning Bookshelf | 10. Berlin Cube Unit Bookcase | 11. Cabot Bookshelf | 12. Sauder Boutique Etagere Bookcase | 13. Columbia Etagere Bookcase | 14. Lattice Etagere | 15. Industrial Modular Bookcase | 16. Gold Etagere | 17. Wood and Metal Bookcase | 18. Levi Off White Bookcase | 19. Gentility Vallecito Bookcase | 20. Vittsjo Bookcase | 21. Parkway Bookcase | 22. Dublin Stackable Shelving Unit | 23. Thoroughly Modern Bookcase | 24. Darley Bookcase | 25. Dimond Vanguard Bookshelf | 26. Havenhurst Etagere | 27. White Campaign Bookcase

If luxe and glam is your style then #26 would be very happy in your home, or if you want things a little more simple and streamlined then #4 is such a good option. We used it in Charlie’s nursery and it was a great place to house all his toys and books (if you have bookends). I also really love #24 from Target which we used in the above picture for Sylvia’s living room makeover.

Emily Henderson_Shelves_Tall_WIde_Accent_Organization_Bookcase_4

Last but not least we have our wide bookcase category. These ones work great for entry areas, behind a couch, if you want to display a large piece of art above them (or a TV to watch Corinne’s next move on the Bachelor – anyone else enjoying her antics as much as we are?), or if you have a large wall to fill up. The rules for styling these is similar to styling a vertical shelf although with these you will want to keep most of your books standing vertically so that you don’t have too much horizontal going on what with the horizontal books and the horizontal bookcase. If you are placing it in an entry area then throw a large circular mirror above it or an over scale piece of art and you instantly have a functional and beautiful place to house your books and throw your keys.

Emily Henderson_Bookcases_Shelving_Organization_Wide_Roundup

1. Prudence Bookcase | 2. Mobi Shelf | 3. Brooklyn Short Bookcase | 4. Wellesley Short Bookcase | 5. Musetta Asymmetrical Bookcase | 6. Carter Shelf | 7. Compartment Bookcase | 8. Fulton Street White Bookcase | 9. Graham Java Low Bookcase | 10. Dovetail Carson Wall Unit | 11. Orion Black Metal Small Shelf | 12. Eastgate Etagere Bookcase | 13. Wrightwood Bookcase | 14. Dovetail Davies Sofa Table | 15. Rikard Bookcase | 16. French Short Storage Cubby | 17. Blue and Natural Bookshelf | 18. Emerson Bookshelf | 19. Noir Burlap Shelf | 20. Darcy Skye Console Bookcase | 21. FJÄLKINGE Bookcase | 22. Mini Library | 23. Lacquer Storage Bookcase | 24. Mount Bonnell Bookcase | 25. Concord Bookcase | 26. Lathom Bookcase | 27. Haven Low Bookcase

#22 will always be one of our favorites for a nursery area (like we used in the Spanish California styled nursery above or in the Neutral California Nursery), #5 is a fun and modern version to keep things feeling light, #18 is great if you need both open and closed storage areas, and if you are needing to display some larger items then #12 is a really good contender and very similar to what we used in this living room.

Are there any that you have tried and love that we missed from the roundup? We would love to hear of some of your recommendations below or if you have tried any of these before that you can speak honestly about. Happy styling folks, and let us know what roundup you would love us to pull together next.


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42 thoughts on “81 Bookcases – That’s a LOT of books

  1. I’m going to have to go to Ikea for what I want because I can’t seem to find it elsewhere (although I’d prefer something sturdier). I want white book cases with doors that are half opaque and half glass, so I can display a few sentimental things but lessen the visual chaos as much as possible. Are doors just not in fashion anymore?

    1. I meant to add that #9 in the first group reminds me of a library cart, which makes me want to find a place for it in my home.

    2. If you find what you are looking for, please let us know. I have been looking for the exact same thing. Bookcases with glass doors since I am weirdly anti open shelving (They are just dust magnets). Ikea seems to be the only option at an affordable price point, though I too would prefer something sturdier. If you are interested in all-glass door cabinets, Restoration Hardware has some jaw dropping options at similarly jaw dropping prices.

  2. Maybe it is my language barrier here as I am not a native speaker, but I have never seen an actual book case on this blog. I appreciate the kids shelves as bookcases, but all the ‘bookcases for adults’ to me are just shelves (as they rarely have even a dozen books in them). The only time I saw book shelves was when you explained how not to style bookshelves, where your solution just seems to be to take out the books.

    Why can they not be called shelves when that’s what they are? (Since 90% of the things in them are NOT books).

    I guess I am just always disappointed since I am a person who actually owns (and reads) the few hundred books in my shelves and I would love to get some inspiration, but I guess I have to keep to pinterest for this topic.

    1. I have to agree with you. In my native language there’s also a distinction between a cabinet or piece of furniture with shelves and a bookcase which is more of a library bookcase. And I agree about books. Most of the time kids and adults accumulate books, textbooks, important journals or magazines. Many of them are not pretty hard-cover coffee table books. They can be large and thin or small and thick. How does one style something that resembles a library more so than a collectors cabinet.
      Also many of these shelves, although pretty, could not contain a collection of books because they don’t have enough sides to hold books properly. When I read “81 bookcases” I actually thought I’d see many bookcases filled with books like in a library

      1. My native language is American English, and a bookshelf to me is shelves with a back on it so the books don’t push thru and end up to floor. Most of these are what I would call display shelves or etegers (is that spelled right?). Anyway, these are pretty but I would not use them for my collection of books.

    2. If you want to see how to stye a bookcase with books, you actually have to look at residential libraries to know how this might look good.

    3. From my perspective, when I hear “shelves” I think built-in or integrated shelving (regardless of what is placed on them) and when I hear bookshelf I think of a piece of stand-alone furniture (again regardless of what you them display on them). And I think this post and most similar design posts are talking about the use of them in rooms when they aren’t intended to display hundreds of books, but rather as a place to display a selection of books and personal items as decoration.

      1. I love looking at personal libraries, but I think there is a long way to go from a few hundred to a whole wall though 🙂 I think I still would fit a decent amount of books on those shelves displayed (here or in other posts).

        The title is just confusing: 81 BOOKCASES – THAT’S A LOT OF BOOKS – I just expected books in those shelves.

    4. I know what you mean. I love the way Emily and her crew style shelves and I could spend a ridiculous amount of time looking at those posts, but I often think they should be titled “bookshelves for people without books”.

      1. Ha. My almost wall bookcase would look nicer with less books, but I have to put them somewhere…

  3. Wow- so much good information! Thanks again for breaking down the ‘mysteries’ of how to style and choose shelving and for giving us the ‘art and science’ of what makes styled-shelves look great!!

  4. Since my earlier comment about the amount of books in those ‘bookcases’ did not make it through, I am trying to give more constructive feedback.

    As a book-lover and as a result of that a book-owner I would really love some tipps on styling bookshelves with books in them, but I also know people own different amounts of books.

    So, how about a post on ‘how to style a bookshelf with (10, 50, 100, 300, 500, …) books in them? That would be really helpful!

    1. I can see your earlier comment 🙂

      As someone who really loves books (we have five full floor-to-ceiling shelves), I have to admit I place function over form — ours are organised in the order of [Read | Author by last name], followed by [Unread | Author by last name] and finally [Reference Books | Author by last name]. I have seen people organise books by colour which looks nice but I’d never be able to find anything.

      I apply a few of the standard styling tricks to my full shelves — every here and there I have a small horizontal stack (usually several titles in a series or by the same author) to interrupt the vertical rows, and we’ve scattered some decorative items (art, bookends, pictures) into the shelves as well. But it’s always going to be mostly books!

      I do have one “pretty” shelf which holds all my coffee table books and graphic novels and a larger amount of art and trinkets, but that’ll eventually turn into a mostly-book shelf as I add more books 😀

    2. One of my favorite book storage inspirations is Molly Young, who is a writer and on instagram at @magicmollys. She has hundreds (if not more!) books in her apartment and styles them really beautifully, although she puts some of them on tables/floors instead of shelves. Generally, she’ll make a pile of similarly colored books and then put some kind of complimentary colored object on the top of the pile (or, another book, using a little display rack). I’ve found it pretty easy to apply this style to my own bookshelves, so that I’m filling my bookshelves with maybe 70% of their max capacity (vertical, no objects).. which I think is just about right. Here are a few examples…

    3. I second this!

      I would like to see a post for people with a lot of books, as in a personal library that tries to mimic Belle’s from Beauty and the Beast 🙂

      Personally I try to mix paintings, vases and such between the books. But I need more space for actual reading material. Could you help us bookworms?

    4. Really late to the game here, but would also like to second this request. I suspect that some design styles (like really formal and not eclectic at all) simply do not work with a lot of (ugly) books, and we should try if at all possible to put the bookcase somewhere more hidden. If that’s the case, but there’s no other option but to put it in the living room, maybe you can advise us on which bookcases would be better (i.e., ones with doors, etc). And if open bookcases CAN work in those spaces, how do you style them?

      I personally like mine jam packed–I fill all of the top shelves and put boxes/bins in the bottom shelves, rather than scattering all of the books on all the shelves and leaving open spaces. BUT, I would love to see some other way of doing this. I also like uniformity, so I make sure all the binds start at the same depth and typically don’t break it up with objects. As much as I like decor pieces, I feel like the bookcase starts to look messy when I add them in.

  5. I got mine from Home Decorators Collection, which seems super random, but it has that wood-and-black metal industrialish look and was really inexpensive, though really solidly and well-made and easy to put together: (I know it’s a lot more books than EHD style but hey, I work in publishing. I love artfully styled bookcases but have too many books for that…) I would definitely recommend it!

  6. *sigh* I have a massive, 9 bay, 26′ long (almost floor to ceiling), Teak Cado wall unit which is along the back common wall of the living/dining room. I love it and it’s one of my favourite pieces but I really struggle at styling it. I’ve tried to treat it as two separate spaces (dining and living) but no matter what I do it just looks so busy

    :/ One day I’ll have nicely styled shelves…

  7. I’m desperately looking for bookshelves with glass doors on them. I care less about styling it out (I have way too many books for it) but since it will be in my living room I need it to look nice + not gather dust that I’d have to clean up every day. Any suggestions for that?

  8. I live in Chicago. I bought a couple of tall pine book shelves from a “Naked Furniture” type place that I finished, then 3 more from 57th St that are 7 feet tall, very nicely finished, even better than previous purchase:
    I highly recommend solid wood with solid sides for books as they are very heavy, particle board buckles
    Many of the pretty pieces in the post seemed more for displaying ornaments

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