A Curated Bookshelf is a Key Part of the Characterful 'Bookshelf Wealth' Trend — Here's How to Perfect One

You'll need a curated bookshelf if you want to embrace the 'bookshelf wealth' trend designers love now. Here's how our Style Editor has perfected the look

white bookshelf with books and decorative objects
(Image credit: Future)

If you're an avid consumer of internet then chances are you've seen a curated bookshelf or two, collectively part of the growing 'bookshelf wealth' trend. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with actual 'wealth,' per se; rather, it's a design aesthetic linked to the look of a well-curated, cozy, and visibly lived-in home. While the style starts with a bountiful bookshelf likely overflowing with beloved, bent, and worn-in copies of one's favorite novels and memoirs, it extends beyond the at-home library, as well. 

A home that has fully embraced the bookshelf wealth interior design trend is likely 'demodernized' in that it retains some of its original construction and vintage elements; is no stranger to mixed and matched patterns and wallpaper; and proudly displays framed wall art in a purposely haphazard and non-linear manner. 

Bookshelf wealth 'combines literature, art, personal knickknacks, and relics to provide evidence of personal and educational background' and a sophisticated personal taste, said Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight. 'This type of trend turns a booker’s place into a fusion of a library and a gallery.'


♬ original sound - House of Hive Design Co

In a viral TikTok video that seems to be one of the first to call out the trend, Kailee Blalock from luxury interior design studio House of Hive Design Co. describes bookshelf wealth as a 'whole home vibe.' In addition to a highly curated bookshelf, 'art is of the utmost importance, but it's not displayed traditionally,' she said, while things like stained glass windows and traditional wood molding are often preserved. There is also a 'major emphasis on cozy seating areas,' particularly those below windows, as well as library ladders, task lighting, and displays that emphasize lots and lots of collected items. 

Of course, if you're just starting your home design journey, this stylish trend presents one glaring problem: you don't have enough books or haven't collected enough items to really pull it off. At least that's what you think. Today, we're here to show you how to achieve the bookshelf wealth aesthetic with ease, including everything you need to shop to get the look. Remember, it's not just about the books; you can get this look with a new couch, a change in wallpaper, or even some added lighting. 

Ready, set, let's shop.

The 'bookshelf wealth' edit

How can I curate a good book collection?

There are two ways to approach the curation of a strong book collection, said Anna Popov of Interiors By Popov. 'The first is the good, old-fashioned way; buy what you like to read,' she continued. Disregard its size, color, or cover imagery and 'just buy the albums, anthologies, travel, art, photography, design, fiction or non-fiction that you want to read and subsequently keep because it means something to you.'As a result, you'll curate a 'book collection that brings you emotional satisfaction' because you've assigned value to 'these books and their contents.'

The second way is more modern and a result of the shift away from print books. 'Listening to books, or reading them on a device or online, means not everyone will have an authentic book collection any more,' Anna explained. In this case, 'the books we display are chosen as beautiful art objects,' but they can still hold 'true value' so long as they're selected per your 'interests, travels, and experiences.'

'This allows you to build a thoughtful collection where each item has sentimental value and is deserving of a place on your shelf,' she went on.

How should I style my bookshelf to incorporate bookshelf wealth?

'When styling a bookshelf I like to play with height and color ... by incorporating art, propping it up on a shelf on its own or on top of a stack of books,' said Samantha Tannehill of Tannehill Interiors. This draws the eye to different areas of the shelf. Moreover, it's fun to 'find treasures on a bookshelf and not just see a bunch of books lined up,' she continued. 'Instead of a bookend use a rock from the sea you picked up on holiday. Or a vase your great-grandmother gave you.. the more levels created the more visually appealing and fun!'

Artem also suggests 'covering plain looking book covers with decorative paper or fabric' if you're looking for 'an inexpensive but attractive change.' Otherwise, 'put in the work to find thrift shops for those inexpensive yet truly cool items.' And you needn't stress about splurging too much overall: 'One outstanding item is enough to 'lift up' a whole look,' Artem explained, 'making inequality between the costly components and budget items acceptable.'

Style Editor

Brigid Kennedy is a Style Editor at Livingetc.com, where she is responsible for obsessively combing the internet for the best and most stylish deals on home decor and more. She was previously a story editor at TheWeek.com, where she covered both U.S. politics and culture. She describes her design style as colorful and clean, and in her free time enjoys reading, watching movies, and curating impossibly niche playlists on Spotify. She lives in New York.