9 Ways to Squeeze in a Bookshelf
Think you have nowhere to fit all your books? These clever design ideas may make you think again
The area beneath an average staircase has great potential for storage and more, but it takes good design to maximise the available space.
Here, architecture and design practice De Rosee Sa reimagined the understairs area and not only created closed storage and a utility room, but carved out enough space at the end of the run for a capacious shelving unit to hold books and treasures.
More: How to Make the Most of the Space Under the Stairs for Storage
There will usually be sufficient wall space above a bed for at least one bookshelf. The design will depend on your needs and style preferences.
Here, Norton Ellis Architects has built a box-style shelf with dividers, but you could equally go for a lone shelf (remember to ensure your tallest books will fit when positioning it).
Whether or not your shelf is floating will depend on the structure of the wall and what’s at either end of the shelf. Get a professional on the job, who will be able to advise on how best to make the shelf secure enough to take the books’ weight.
In this design, the under-shelf downlights are a nice additional touch.
The wall space around staircases is frequently an untapped resource for storage. In this clever shelving by Katherine Richards, the designer has taken advantage of the full height of a tall, slim space.
As it’s a narrow unit, books are reachable from the landing (high up ones might require a stool). A handy spotlight illuminates not only the stairs, but also the books.
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If you’re having doors replaced or added as part of a renovation, you could ask your architect to see if there’s a way the door itself can contain shelving. In this slick example by London Design Collaborative, deep shelves fill the door’s full height. This also turns the door into a delightful secret entrance.
A corridor that comes to an end with a wall is a gift when you’re looking for a spot to stash more reading matter. This neat example was designed bespoke by Zulufish, who commissioned HUX London to make it.
Painted to coordinate with the walls and woodwork, the shelving melts into the wall, making the colourful spines the stars.
In a small kitchen/living area, it can be a design challenge to mark the dividing line between different functions and give each ‘room’ its own mood. You’re also likely to be short of space in a multifunctional space.
Here, a neat trick by Cassidy Hughes Interior Design solves both issues cleverly. The side of a tall kitchen cabinet doubles up as one of two surfaces on which corner shelving for books has been mounted. As well as providing decent shelf space, it also demarcates the ‘living’ side of the room nicely.
While some of us love looking at books, rows of tomes may not be what you want filling walls if you’ve limited space to curate artworks.
So, if you’d rather your books took a (visual) back seat, take a tip from architect Chris Dyson, whose secret library sits above this elegant fireplace. Scroll down to see the generous storage concealed behind the door…
The location of this large expanse of shelving in a Victorian hallway is clever. Rather than slot something busy at the front door end, DHV Architects inserted these giant shelves towards the back end of the hall, where the space is wider. Here, the busy display has space to breathe and doesn’t feel imposing.
Note, too, how, in natural wood, the shelves’ contents are ‘quieter’ than they are in the shelving elsewhere in this selection that’s painted to match walls. Both options work, but it’s worth noting so you can fully consider the effect you want to create.
A row of books up high, as already seen in the bedroom earlier, can make a tidy decorative feature as well as providing out-of-the-way storage. Here, an open shelving unit/room divider extends out at ceiling height to house a room’s-width full of books.
You may also have seen images on Houzz where designers have made use of a horizontal structural beam – painting it and using the exposed cavity as a bookshelf.
What could work in your space?
Have you found a clever way to squeeze bookshelves into your home? Share your tips in the Comments.