10 Creative Ways to Store Books (That Aren’t Bookshelves)

As a book lover and self-declared book collector, I am constantly reimagining and rotating my collection to display different titles based on color and design. Over the years, my book collection has transformed into more than just a library. Rather, it has become a source of interior design inspiration and an outlet for creative energy. When it comes to styling books in your home decor, the possibilities are endless (no, you don’t need to be limited by a bookshelf). If you’re like me and want to give your book storage a refresh, try some of these unconventional methods to store books and elevate your home decor.



1. Stack books on your bar cart

A bar cart is a versatile piece of decor that can be used in almost any room to hold favorite trinkets and glassware as well as a few bottles of your favorite wines or liquors. But just because bar carts are intended for barware does not mean you cannot mix and match with some of your favorite books. Fill up the bottom shelf of a cart with stacks of books, a house plant, and maybe a small lamp to create your own portable library.



2. Mix books with pictures

I love displaying my favorite titles front and center on my bookshelf like the pieces of art that they are rather than sorted and tucked away like storage. To bring functionality back to the bookcase and free up some prime real estate on its shelves, shift the more aesthetically pleasing book covers onto a picture ledge or wall shelf along with some framed prints to create a stunning gallery of mixed media art. You’ll free up much-needed surface area on your shelves and create a new and interesting focal point.



3. Display your books on (or below) a windowsill

There’s virtually nothing better than a great reading nook—except a reading nook next to a window with plenty of natural light. Why not preemptively pull some of your favorite titles off the shelf and display them in a spot where they belong, right next to your ideal reading nook? The natural focal point that the window creates will not only place your favorite books on display, but it’ll also keep them close at hand when you’re ready for an impromptu reading session. 



4. Use a hutch or buffet for book storage on display

Think of a hutch as a more functional and aesthetic bookshelf. You can use it as a media console below a TV or behind a couch or put it in your dining room table for an impromptu buffet table when guests are over. Arranging a mix of coffee table books and some of your favorite novels behind the glass casing of a dining room hutch is a lovely way to create some aesthetic intrigue, tie rooms together, and add a little more interest than the usual internet cables or kitchenware that are typically found in media consoles and hutches.



5. Take advantage of storage spots that are hard to reach

We all have those high shelves or spaces in our homes that often sit empty. If you have untapped storage space above kitchen cabinets or at the top of tall a shelving unit, these areas are perfect for storing items you don’t need to access every day. If you’re like me and, on a whim, you’ve acquired one or two awkwardly sized coffee table books, use them to create visual intrigue in a space that is otherwise empty or bland.



6. Display books on the mantel

Mantels are a fantastic way to display decorations, vases, candles, plants, clocks, etc. If you have a decorative keepsake, your best bet for displaying it prominently in your home is to place it on a mantel. Books on a mantel might not seem that revolutionary, but if you happen to have a fireplace and a ton of beautiful books you’d like to display, why not put them on the focal point of the entire home? Sprinkle in some decorative items to make your stacks of books look like intentional decor instead of temporary storage.



7. Store books in the fireplace

No, this is not a creepy call to action or a hint that you have too many books. If you find yourself living in a home with a defunct fireplace, you might have a brilliant opportunity to display your books. Especially if your mantel is already taken up by a TV, decorative mirror, large painting, or decor accents, I raise an alternative: the hearth. Defunct fireplaces (or fireplaces that are never used) often contain elegant candelabras or stacks of logs, but it can be used more creatively (and functionally). Arrange the books in intentional, opposing stacks and include one or two decor items. 



8. Stack them vertically

There is something romantic about a stack of books. Similarly to adding books to empty space above, stacks of books can create visual intrigue on the floor too. Stack your favorite books below a windowsill or along a baseboard to introduce an unexpected design element to your living room, office, hall, or entryway. Face the spines of your favorite books out to create colorful chaos or turn all of the spines in to create more visually cohesive stacks. You’ll immediately feel the creative energy of your room shift and your favorite books will be closer to grab when inspiration strikes.



9. Use a decorative ladder

Ladders are a fun and interesting way to incorporate something visually unexpected into a room. They create height, and their frames are often inconspicuous enough to not detract from the decor items you’re putting on display. Placing books on a ladder will allow you to incorporate color and texture in your room and put a unique spin on storage so they’re on display but also organized.


Source: Kelley Burnett’s Home | photography by Elizabeth Cara


10. Stack underneath a bench

Like a fireplace, benches are useful spots for intentional clutter because they can bring uniformity to items with a lot of variation. In the case of books, that variation can be height, thickness, color, or texture. If you have a bench you’re currently using in a hallway or at the foot of your bed, consider using the space below it to arrange either stacks of books at various heights or a horizontal display of interesting books spines. This unexpected spot will create visual appeal and effectively tuck your books away at the same time.


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