Faux Books Are the Storage Solution Your Living Room Bookshelf Is Missing

published May 22, 2024
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Credit: Minette Hand

There’s nothing like a well-appointed living room bookshelf. And by that, I don’t mean one that’s full of artfully arranged trendy objects, the latest New York Times best sellers, or bookshelf sconces (though lighting never hurts!). I mean a shelf that holds special pieces and books that put your personality on display and bring you joy — you know, what they’re calling “bookshelf wealth” these days. Bonus points for any items that are as useful as they are beautiful. And that’s where faux book boxes come in for me. At their best, they’re a cute (and sometimes inexpensive) way to fill space on a shelf and conceal little odds and ends — things like remotes, chargers, maybe even a spare set of house keys — that otherwise might get lost in a drawer.

Maybe you’ve seen these decorative accents before at a paper goods store or stumbled upon them at a gift shop. Meant to pass for real books — some more convincingly than others — they’re essentially storage boxes printed with spines, covers, and, in many cases, even trompe-l’oeil pages. They’re not a new phenomenon; I vaguely remember my mother having a set on the desk in our kitchen in my childhood home, and they probably existed long before then. And I’ll be the first to admit that they’re a little gimmicky, which will probably make them perfect fodder for TikTok (if they’re not already). 

But what I like about faux book boxes, though, is that they’re a wonderful way to stash a few things — maybe papers or ephemera you’re holding onto for safekeeping — hidden in plain sight. And then they blend right into your books without anyone really knowing, unless they look a little closer or you clue them in. 

And you know what? The designs of faux book boxes have come a long way. Generic floral motifs and textbook-like tomes still exist, sure, but at stores like HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx, you can find ones that look like your favorite artist’s biography — emblazoned with reproduction artwork and for less than $10 at that. Target has had them in its Dollar Spot section. Brands like Puebco make tiny vintage-look volumes complete with fake library call number labels. But the company whose faux book boxes have most recently caught my eye? Home furnishings brand OKA, whose latest collection with celebrated fashion designer Adam Lippes features a set of three faux books, as shown above.

A bestseller for OKA, these book boxes come in many patterns, but I love the sweet ticking stripe of the Everett that’s exclusive to the Adam Lippes collaboration. I could imagine a stack of these on a corner of a desk or mixed into a colorful bookcase in a vintage-inspired living room. You could even set them on a nightstand without drawers for a stylish, one-and-done solution to neaten all the stuff that tends to accumulate bedside.

Credit: OKA

At $65 for a set of three, they’re not exactly cheap, but they’re sizable and sturdy, even the smallest of them. I actually think one would make a lovely way to wrap a special gift for one of your most bookish friends. But you’d have to break up the set, and again, you can probably find a cheaper version at a big box if you want to try that particular idea out.  

I’m not advocating you replace all of your real books with faux ones. That’d be ridiculous! All I’m saying is a few faux book boxes can be nice in a shelfie mix, especially if you’re trying to fill your shelves without making them seem visually overrun with bitsy stuff.