“Bookshelf Wealth” Is the New (Viral!) Way to Style Your Old Books & Trinkets

published Feb 5, 2024
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Credit: Chloe Berk

Whether you’re blessed with built-ins or have a standalone cabinet or open shelving unit, the struggle of styling a shelfie-worthy bookcase is always so real — so much so that everyone from home stagers to professional librarians to interior designers have weighed in. There’s practically an entire subset of bookshelf “rules” (plan a color scheme, don’t overcrowd the shelves, etc.), and often a very fine line between looking curated versus cluttered exists. In fact, nailing that latter objective is actually the key component to a new TikTok trend called “bookshelf wealth,” which is poised to dominate homes in 2024 — and it’s surprisingly attainable. 

San Diego-based luxury interior design firm House of Hive, cofounded by Kailee Blalock and Taylor Troia, broke down this new design-meets-lifestyle movement in a now-viral video shared last month. As Blalock explains in the post, spaces that embody bookshelf wealth “look cozy and lived-in,” first and foremost. That means they’re usually filled with “books that have actually been curated and read,” she adds, rather than pretty hardcovers used just for display purposes (bibliophiles, rejoice!).

This eclectic trend extends beyond just book organization as well; Blalock defines bookshelf wealth as “a whole home vibe.” She mentions even playing into the look with specific art placement and styling: think unconventional displays like stacking pieces on the floor, hanging them in front of bookcase shelves, and curating a mismatched row of frames or canvases on a wall. Blalock also points to cozy seating areas, pattern play, and task lighting as hallmarks of this look. 

Essentially, bookshelf wealth celebrates personalized, homey, and thoughtfully-designed spaces filled with beloved pieces collected over time — especially your favorite literature. It’s slightly reminiscent of the English country style that designers have identified as a 2024 standout, albeit with fewer moody hues. The concept also applies to any room, but if you’re looking for a design jumping off point, consider starting with, well, a bookshelf or a little reading nook! I rounded up a few cabinet and bookcase options for every price point to help inspire your own bookshelf wealth aesthetic.

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This simple, Shaker-inspired white shelf from Amazon could pass as antique. The intentionally unfinished design provides the perfect backdrop for your book collection.

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Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters’ gold Vivian bookshelf lends a slightly more traditional touch, complete with five glass tiers and a delicate arched frame. Hint: Embrace the open shelving for unique art and decor styling opportunities.

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Design Within Reach
was $505.00

Maximize blank wall space with this mountable Design Within Reach shelving unit, which is currently on sale for 20% off. At just 3.3 inches deep, it takes up minimal room and can be aligned both vertically or horizontally.

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Another signature of bookshelf wealth? Embracing existing architectural elements, according to Blalock, including wood molding. If that applies to your space, play up any dark finishes and fake the look of a built-in with this Wayfair three-piece bookcase. It comes in oak, espresso, and cherry wood colorways, all with 15 shelves (the majority of which are adjustable!).

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Crate & Barrel

You’d be surprised how many high-end, modern bookshelf styles Crate & Kids currently carries, like the one-drawer Hampshire style. Depending on your square footage, you can play around with configurations and style a pair side by side, or incorporate the shorter matching shelf.

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If you’re looking for more of a cabinet-style piece, you can’t go wrong with this skinny Target find. The two oval-shaped, fluted doors offer a hint of opaqueness, which puts less pressure on curating whatever’s inside.

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IKEA’s popular BILLY bookcase is an obvious shoe-in for achieving bookshelf wealth, but I also love the brand’s red HEMNES combination. You get the best of both storage and display worlds here, thanks to drawers on the bottom right side and spacious shelving throughout.