If You’re Not Storing Your Books This Way, You’re Missing Out

published Jan 5, 2020
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We’ve always been crazy about built-in shelving, both because of its storage capabilities but also its inherent elegance and sophistication. Built-ins certainly add architectural charm to a space, and they definitely can make a home look and feel more unique, especially when you stock the shelves with things that speak to you. But lately, we’ve been particularly obsessed with doorway bookcases, which are exactly what they sound like—built-in shelves that frame a door leading to another part of the house. And bonus points to any doorway bookcase that makes use of the dead space above the door frame, because we’re all about using every inch of house to its full potential. Take a look at these nine stunning homes featuring doorway bookcases and consider this the best new way to show off your book collection and other miscellaneous items.

Light Against Dark

Christina Samatas and Renee DiSanto of Park & Oak Interior Design incorporated a doorway bookcase in one of their client projects. The white shelving is the perfect contrast to the moody, dark dining room behind it, and this solution gives the homeowners plenty of room to display favorite titles, knickknacks, and even artwork. If you don’t think you have the space or budget for a full wall of built-ins, a doorway bookcase can be a great compromise or way to get the look for a little less. It’s also a smart idea to consider base cabinets flanking your doorway—a little bit of closed storage is always a good idea for quick cleanups or if you have small children and need to keep certain things out of reach.

Credit: Abby Cook

Colorful and Cozy

This Toronto house tour also features a doorway bookcase, which happens to be bursting with color. It’s filled to the brim with all sorts of volumes and objects, which are somewhat organized by spine color, making the space appear extra lively and cozy without seeming cluttered. Pro-tip: Keep the books you read and reference most often on the lower shelves, so they’re easier to retrieve.

Custom Creation

John and Sherry Petersik of Young House Love designed the above built-ins themselves, and I absolutely love how they turned out. They decided to display books by color and made sure that the shelves they built were tall enough to accommodate even the largest pieces in their collection. The highest “cubbies,” which sit right above the doorway, are much longer and narrower than the rest of the shelves. But the Petersiks still managed to make them useful, placing a few decorative horns, boxes, and just a few small stacks of books there.

Blue-and-White Beauty

Blogger Kelly Rae Roberts added a doorway bookshelf to her space with the help of her father. She kept the look light and airy by leaving the shelf “backs” the same color blue as her walls, and the end result creates a gorgeous contrast—not to mention a home for all kinds of decorative objects, including an eye-catching collection of globes. In addition to better utilizing the dead wall space, she also thinks that the doorway bookcase actually makes the room look bigger, and I have to say I agree. Those horizontal shelves must be creating some kind of an optical illusion.

Credit: Cathy Pyle

Multimedia Storage

The built-in bookshelves in this UK home hold a little bit of everything—books, CDs, picture frames, and more. And despite the variety, the overall look is soothing as opposed to overly busy, and I think that has something to do with uniformity of what is stored on each shelf, both in terms of size, and, to a certain extent, spine color. The door leads the way into the living room, which is quiet and simply furnished. This contrast also helps to create visual balance, which is something to keep in mind if you decide to go the doorway bookcase route in your home and have a lot to store.

Small But Mighty Setup

This Brooklyn Heights apartment features books stored all throughout the space, even super high up, as seen here. This setup is proof that doorway bookshelves can make sense in even the smallest of homes—this place is just 450 square feet.

A Growing Collection

This stylish Brooklyn penthouse certainly isn’t lacking storage space, as illustrated by the built-ins pictured here. In fact, there’s still plenty of room for renter Ben to continue to grow his book collection. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough stuff to fully style out your doorway bookcases right now. You can always grow into them.

Credit: Cathy Pyle

Cubby Perfection

Who wouldn’t want to get creative in a space like this loft in southern England? Cubby-like shelves are perfect for grouping books by size or genre and would be equally useful for holding small bins or storage baskets full of art or crafting supplies.

Neat in Notting Hill

Built-ins in this Notting Hill home feature a combination of books, art, and other treasures. The space is shared by two sisters—but there’s plenty of shelf space for each woman to display her belongings! If you have a shared space, feel free to give each person a side or group of shelves.

So what do you think? Are doorway bookcases not the best new way to store books?