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My now online favorite for all time “bit of me in here” piece (Books!)

Books, glorious books. Bookmark This: 12 Beautifully Novel Ways to Organize Your Books reprinted from with permission from Stephanie Booth.  A word of caution – I do not agree with putting books on staircases – not safe. And intensely creative though it is, the idea of putting my books spine-in on a shelf gives me nightmares!

No matter how convenient it is to download a book on your tablet, there’s nothing like the sensory pleasures of an old-school hardback: The smell of the paper. The feel of turning the page. The cover art that evokes the story.

That said, books do take up space—and depending on how much you read, potentially a lot of space. And unless you live in the Library of Congress, you may have reached a point where you’re at a loss for how to organize them all.

Before you give up and go digital forever, take heart: There are some clever ways to show off your favorite tomes and make them the protagonist of your home decor.

1. Lean into the library look

Modern rendering design
Modern rendering designCloset Factory

If you’re a book lover, there’s no sense hiding it—embrace your bibliophile tendencies and design your home around your books. The more it feels like a library, the more you might feel like you’re in your own happy place, where a new world is only a page turn away.

“Few things are more lovely than a solid wall of library shelves filled with books and a few décor items,” says Darla DeMorrow, owner of HeartWork Organizing, in Wayne, PA. “A sliding ladder, of course, is the icing on the cake.”

Put your books in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name, or according to genres. You can even get creative: Mary Shelley next to E.L. James? One could say that both did create monsters.

2. Create a ‘reading rainbow’

Eclectic family room design
Eclectic family room designHudson Interior Design

Are you a visual person? Let go of logic and disregard titles. Instead, “organize books by color of their binding to create a rainbow effect on the shelving,” suggests Amy Trager, a certified professional organizer in Chicago.

Of course, this could mean shushing your inner librarian in order to put Shakespeare next to Sherlock Holmes. It’s not for everyone, but it’s certainly pleasing to the eye.

3. Sprinkle them into the decor of every room

Contemporary kitchen design
Contemporary kitchen designArdent Architects

Your books don’t all have to go in one place. Divvy them up in different spots around your home. Try grouping three or four at a time, vertically or horizontally—whichever feels right.

“Some books you’ll never read again, but you want them on your shelf because they’re a good memory,” acknowledges Helene Segura, a productivity consultant based in San Antonio.

4. Ditch the shelves

Shabby-Chic Style family room design
Shabby-Chic Style family room designCorynne Pless

Books—especially rare and old hardbacks—look good anywhere. Try giving them a different display treatment by taking them off the shelf and nesting them in a handsome basket instead.

Pro tip: “If they’re filed with their spines showing, they’ll be easier to grab,” Segura notes.

Or build your own cubby system as an alternative to traditional bookcases.

“I’ve seen people use everything from egg crates to cinder blocks to build shelving for books,” says Lauren Williams, a certified professional organizer and owner of Casual Uncluttering in Woodinville, WA.

5. Play them up with accessories

Shabby-Chic Style living room design
Shabby-Chic Style living room designJennifer Grey Interiors Design & Color Specialist

“I honestly think it’s the accessories around book storage that make the biggest difference,” Williams says.

Think: a genuine library step stool, a Mason jar filled with bookmarks, a piece of art you’ve collected alongside a book about the artist. Consider your books a work of art—and your guests will too.

6. Mix the genres

Transitional living room design
Transitional living room designCrowell + Co. Interiors

What we read undoubtedly gives insight into who we are. And chances are, we’re into more than Victorian romances or true crime thrillers. To inspire discussion, don’t be afraid to mix genres—even if it feels out of place.

“I personally enjoy mixing rows of vintage books and modern books on my shelves, partially because I enjoy a lot of obscure, long-out-of-print writers,” Williams says.

7. Show some spine—with your organizing, that is

Eclectic living room design
Eclectic living room designJordan Parnass Digital Architecture

We automatically tuck books vertically onto a shelf, but there’s no law that says you have to.

“Stand some books up and stack some sideways on the same shelf so you can read the titles horizontally,” says Eileen Roth, author of “Organizing for Dummies.”

For some visual interest, pick one book to stand out in front of all the rest.

You can also organize your books by the height of their bindings to create an undulating, or wave, look, Trager suggests.

8. Let them be elevating…

Vintage chair shabby-chic-style-living-room

While you might not want to use your books to, say, hold up a claw-foot tub, they are capable of smaller chores. For instance, DeMorrow says, a stack of books can charmingly elevate a too-short lamp to exactly the right height.

9. … or backward

Scandinavian dining room design
Scandinavian dining room designIncreation

Purists may want to skip this idea, but we’ll throw it out there anyway.

“There’s a very popular trend of turning books the ‘wrong’ way on a shelf, so the spines are in,” DeMorrow says. “Which makes it impossible to find a book you want, but does a lot to calm a color scheme.”

10. Use your books as art

Scandinavian bedroom design
Scandinavian bedroom designPhotographer Idha Lindhag

You can hang artwork on the outside of the shelves, partly obscuring your books for a layered look, DeMorrow says. You can also face your books outward on the shelves, treating the covers like individual works of art.

11. Put them on the stairs (yes, really)

Contemporary staircase design
Contemporary staircase designLeslie Goodwin Photography

“If your staircase is wider than normal, that’s a great spot for books!” DeMorrow says. “Just store them safely so you can be called a collector and not a hoarder.”

12. Defy gravity

Industrial living room design
Industrial living room designPaul Craig Photography

Want something a little edgier than the traditional bookcase? Think custom shelves that twist, turn, and generally defy gravity. Reading never looked so good.

Stephanie Booth’s stories have appeared in magazines such as Real Simple, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Psychology Today.

About Lauren Williams

Lauren Williams, Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Virtual Professional Organizer®

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