These 20 Book Storage Ideas Prove You Can Have a Small Space and be a Bibliophile

updated Jan 23, 2024
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Finding space for all of your belongings is no easy feat, especially for bookworms. If you’re a big-time reader, you probably have a pretty impressive book collection that you’re not willing to give up. But with these perfect book storage ideas, you can continue growing your mini library even if your living space is teeny tiny.

Ahead, you’ll find inspiration from renters and homeowners who’ve found unique storage methods, whether that’s DIYing their own shelves or repurposing unused spaces and decorative accents to keep their collection displayed.

How to Store Books Properly

While you might be approaching your book storage and organization from a style-first perspective, you could be overlooking the best way to preserve and take care of your collection. Small details like the temperature and climate of your space, and pests such as silverfish, can make books deteriorate faster. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when storing books:

  • Books do best in room temperature (70 F) with low humidity.
  • Do not place books in direct sunlight.
  • Dusting and wiping them down with a cloth every now and then will prevent a buildup of dust and the likelihood of bugs feasting on them.

Once you’ve got the maintenance part of your personal library down, you can start organizing your heart out. For the least amount of stress and clutter, everything from books to board games needs a designated spot in your home.

Credit: Erin Derby

1. Spice up the bedroom.

If you like to read in the bedroom, why should your books be all the way out in the living room? A smallish bookcase like this one in a Brooklyn apartment is ideal by the bed, as it allows you to choose a before-bedtime book just as you curl up for the night.

2. Rise above.

Most people don’t need a dedicated kitchen shelf for their cookbooks, especially if they only need to occasionally reference the contents. Rather than trying to put them out of sight, use them to give a boost to your other decor, such as potted plants (like this Seattle rental does) — but make sure the containers are leakproof first.

Credit: Katie Currid

3. Go on a roll.

Bookshelves tend to be heavy, making them difficult to move out of the way when you need more space to play. This cool rolling cart in a Kansas City abode is the perfect solution for storing books (or toys) that can be moved around as needed.

4. Rethink coffee table books.

Coffee table books are wonderful for keeping visitors entertained and engaged, but they can present a challenge in a small place where you can’t fit a massive coffee table, which is why we love the idea of storing them in an open slot on a coffee table pushed against the wall, like in this Manhattan apartment. Even without spreading the books on a coffee tabletop, your visitors can see and peruse your books.

5. Put them on display.

Alternatively, rather than use a coffee table to display your best photo books, just put one on display on a bookstand — that’s especially true if the book weighs 100 pounds like this David Hockney art book in this colorful Miami apartment. After that, display a few books above it on some shelves.

Credit: Erin Derby

6. Use books as art.

Books double as wall art in this Brooklyn apartment, where colorful book stacks of varying heights blend seamlessly into an eclectic gallery wall. 

7. Build a library wall.

If you have an extensive collection, you might be inspired by the library wall in this artsy Los Angeles loft. It’s so large, you need a ladder to reach the top shelves (a.k.a. every book lover’s dream). 

Credit: BG Captures

8. Use a window as a shelf.

Strategically placing a floating bookshelf in front of a window maximizes storage space without sacrificing sunlight. Need proof? Just take a look at the office in this Kansas City, Missouri apartment.

9. Put book storage on the mantel.

If you really think about it, your mantel is basically a built-in bookshelf. Consider breaking up the books with decorative accents, like in this Chicago house.

Credit: Heather Shilan

10. Make small stacks.

Is your bookshelf overflowing? Scatter your surplus in small stacks throughout your space to add a cozy touch to every room. Use this charming British Columbian home as inspiration!

11. Incorporate decorative objects.

Bookshelves aren’t just for your favorite reads anymore. Incorporate decorative objects and art alongside your books, as seen in this cozy Indianapolis apartment rental, and you’ll create a stylish mix that uniquely shows off your taste in accessories and literature.

Credit: Liz Calka

12. Implement a color-coded statement wall.

Set down the brush — an accent wall doesn’t have to be painted. The owners of this vibrant Washington DC apartment used a nook in their wall to stack books in a rainbow design. The result is a bold, colorful accent wall that looks more like art than storage.

Credit: Kim Lucian

13. Try shelf-less book stacking.

No shelf? No problem. Organize your books by size and stack them horizontally from the ground up, as seen here in this San Francisco home. Neatly stacked, this book storage idea looks like an intentional, artsy book collection rather than a temporary “I haven’t ordered a bookshelf yet” pile.


14. Use under-staircase book storage.

Weird angles and odd corners often lend themselves to the best book storage ideas. A space like this chic Spanish apartment’s staircase closet makes use of an underused room and is a clever way of sharing a collection of novels.

Credit: Anik Polo

15. Try floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

For extensive book collections, a floor-to-ceiling setup is reminiscent of a library and allows you to keep everything you read under your roof—without it feeling cluttered. Take note from this century-old house in Switzerland and work vertically up your walls to organize your volumes.

16. Use a glass display case.

There’s something so polished about books in display cases, like in this stylish Australian home. The bookcase blends in seamlessly with the rest of the room, making it appear like it’s a permanent part of the space rather than an afterthought. Not to mention, the glass helps protect the books from dust and grime. Consider repurposing a wardrobe for books—it’s an easy way to hack this sort of display idea.

17. Ladder up.

Leaning a ladder against a wall and stacking books on its rungs is a creative way to reuse a vintage find that serves more of a decorative purpose than utility. And because ladders draw the eye upward, as is the case in this rustic, Scandi-inspired Australian studio, this book storage idea actually creates an illusion of extra space.

18. Float on.

Gallery walls don’t have to be limited to framed prints and paintings. This fun Chicago rental is the perfect example of how to use floating shelves and a gallery wall mindset to create a cute, quirky book storage method.

Credit: Submitted by Jessica & Milo

19. Use the fireplace.

While faux and non-functional fireplaces are still nice architectural features, it can be a challenge to figure out what to actually do with them. Take inspiration from this cozy Brooklyn studio, whose residents filled their firebox with books. Consider facing your books spine-inwards, as shown here, for a more minimalist aesthetic and cohesive palette.

20. Try the staircase railing.

There’s no better way to prove your love of books than with a trail of them leading upstairs. The owner of this Melbourne, Australia apartment makes a strong case for showcasing your favorite reads in a fun, unexpected way. This solution is also a great way to make use of an often dead space.