Home library ideas – 20 striking bookcase ideas worth stealing

20 home library ideas to inspire a reading room transformation – from shocking neon colour and modern design ideas to traditional wood panelling and built-in lighting

home library ideas
(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

We've pulled together 20 stunning home library ideas to help inspire a book storage revamp – whether you're lucky enough to actually have a dedicated library room or are just looking to transform your hallway or living room bookcases.

We've found modern ideas aplenty, like raw plywood structures for an urban look, square shelving for a structured, grid-like display, flashes of bold neon colour and design classics like the LEMA Booken bookcase. 

Take shelving up to the ceiling to accentuate ceiling height, then add a modern ladder for a fresh take on it. Among our favourite design ideas is a bookcase on wheels (scroll to #10) which is used to conceal – and reveal – a hidden, wall-mounted TV. Clever. Or why not use a freestanding bookcase to separate an open-plan into two different zones? After all, broken-plan is the new open-plan.

1. Colour blocking

Take your wall colour onto the shelves for a thoroughly modern look. Colour blocking not only injects oodles of colour and interest to a space, but it also helps to create a more cohesive scheme.

We love the choice of green in this rustic farmhouse, pictured below.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Amanda Kirkpatrick)

For a more indulgent, enveloping and cocooning effect, take the colour all the way around the room and even the ceiling.

home library ideas

Get the look: This is a vintage Hans J Wegner Papa Bear chair and ottoman – find similar at Pamono. The Grasshopper floor lamp is by Greta Grossman. The bar cart is Florin from Consort Design.

(Image credit: Future)

The same effect was created in the snug below, but with a vibrant purple shade.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Matthew Williams)

Or, for something more calming, simply use the same technique but with a matte grey paint.

home library ideas

(Image credit: James Merrell)

2. Contrast shelving

Make your bookcases or shelving stand out by giving them a contrast colour to the rest of the walls.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Paul Craig)

The bookcase below is enveloped in a rich blue while leaving the walls white – thus turning a plain bookcase into a design feature, and transforming the whole room from bland to bold.

home library ideas


(Image credit: Future)

You can tone it done a little by choosing a more muted palette – for example choosing white shelving for a grey living room, and grey shelving for a white living room.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

home library ideas


(Image credit: Future)

Finally, you could add further contrast by framing built-in shelving, making it look more like a piece of furniture embedded within the wall.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Alexander James)

3. Raw and natural

Building shelving from plain plywood has a surprisingly fresh and modern effect when done right. The built-in bookcase below was left as it was, unvarnished and unpainted, and it creates a raw and natural look.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Similarly the snug below features a raw wood shelving structure. It's a modern look for a home library.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

home library ideas

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

4. Go full height

If your space has tall ceilings, make the most of them and accentuate them by taking shelving right to the top. Tall wall space that was previously wasted can now become a feature – a space to display treasured books and ornaments.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves below highlight the house’s voluminous height and adds drama.

home library ideas

Get the look For bespoke shelving in this style, try Richard Baker Furniture. This is a B&B Italia day bed. The vintage coffee table was brought back from Paris. Istdibs.com is a good source of similar pieces. For a rug like this, check out the range at Deirdre Dyson.

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Even for a more modestly proportioned room this trick can still work well. The bookcase below reaches right to the ceiling and was designed to accentuate and exaggerate the height of the room.

home library ideas

Get the look: The bookshelves are painted in Livid intelligent matt emulsion by Little Greene. The painting is by Arrigo Wittler.

(Image credit: Future)

5. Add a modern ladder

Modern ladders have become a bit of a trend over the past few years, as the boxy shapes can add structure, definition and minimalist, clean lines to a room – not to mention offer access to added storage.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

The floor to ceiling shelves below house a collection of objets, accessible via this smart, purpose-built ladder.

home library ideas

Get the look: Paper decorations, Pipii. Cards, National Portrait Gallery and Hello Geronimo. Neo Geo obelisks, Jonathan Adler.

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

Adding a double height ladder can lend a fresh, contemporary aesthetic even in more traditional rooms.

home library ideas

Get the look: For unusual wood ladders, try Lassco. The vintage clock face is from Patricia Harvey at Alfies Antique Market. The 18th-century easel is believed to have belonged to the painter Whistler. Visit Green & Stone for an antique piece like this. Beside the easel is a Smoke chair by Maarten Baas for Moooi. The vintage glass chandelier in the background is from Maison Artefact.

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

6. Grid-like squares

The built-in bookcase below is divided into perfect squares, arranging books into an organised, grid-like structure.

home library ideas

Get the look The bookcase was made bespoke by Rick Baker. The reclaimed chevron oak flooring is from Solid Floor. The rug is by The Rug Company. Ros sourced the coffee table from an antiques shop. Talisman stocks similar. The Salute sofa from sofa.com is a good match.

(Image credit: James Merrell)

7. Wrap around

Shelving wraps around the 'Man Cave' below, providing extra space for books – even right above the door. 

The shelving is painted oak. Sliding doors transform it from an extension of the living area into a cosy, intimate library.

home library ideas

Get the look: Shelving painted in Down Pipe Estate Eggshell, Farrow & Ball. Noelle sofa, Pinch. Peas rug, Hay at Nest.co.uk. Noelle sofa Pinch. Cushion Kirsten Hecktermann.

(Image credit: Future)

Architects Stiff + Trevillion designed the built-in storage below, which also wraps around the room to create a distinct separation from the library and the rest of the living spaces.

home library ideas

Get the look The built-in shelving, created by Manning Bespoke, is made of oak veneer backed by bronze mirrors. The wood flooring is from Parquet Flooring. The Anemone Cocoa rug is by Marni at The Rug Company.

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

The atmospheric den below doubles up as a cinema room and library. The bookcase wraps around the room, cocooning it.

Luxe paneling and flashes of red keep this room feeling grown-up. 

home library ideas

Get the look: The sofa is from BPA International. This is the E1027 side table by Eileen Gray for Aram Designs at Aram Store. The patterned cushions are by By Nord at Houseology. The linen cushion covers are from The Linen Works. This is a Windowpane throw by Raft Furniture.

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

8. Unusual display

While this is not strictly a home library, book storage has been cleverly squeezed into this home office space, turning a book collection into an interesting feature.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

9. Create something unexpected

This playful house in Petworth features concrete walls and ceilings, blush pink curtains and modern design ideas. Here, wall-to-wall shelving and an XL window create a striking feature. It's a very funky home library.

home library ideas

(Image credit: uniquehomestays.com)

10. Conceal and reveal

Two bookcases were put on wheels in this New York apartment, so they could slide 'open and closed', to reveal or conceal the wall-mounted TV hidden behind it.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Matthew Williams)

home library ideas

(Image credit: Matthew Williams)

11. Give corridors a new purpose

Corridors can be relatively boring spaces – why not incorporate display shelving that's both practical and will make a stunning design feature? We love the way the shelving below stretches across the ceiling too.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

This corridor below also highlights how you can use functional bookshelves to add a design element to this often forgotten about space.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

12. Add interest to a landing 

Similarly, landings often don't get much attention, but this concrete villa in a Taiwan jungle proves that even simple plywood structures can be enough to add an interesting display to these in-between spaces.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Vipp)

home library ideas

(Image credit: Vipp)

This landing below sits in a family home, and the space leads through to the kids' bedrooms. The built-in bookcase houses the childrens' books, so they can grab a book from this shared library and share the books between them. (See more toy storage ideas)

home library ideas

(Image credit: Ben Gebo)

These bookshelves below stretch right up to the ceiling, making the most of otherwise dead space in between rooms.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

13. Neon flash

A powerful shock of incandescent yellow around the architrave instantly saves this home library and adjoining living room from feeling ‘too polite’. 

home library ideas

Get the look: Bookcase painted in Bone China Blue, Little Greene. Vintage chandelier, George Smith – try Vinterior. Zero-In table, Barber & Osgerby for Established & Sons. Vintage armchair, Les Couilles du Chien; upholstered in Pueblos linen-mix, Pierre Frey. Early 20th- century Chinese rug, Talisman.

(Image credit: James Merrell)

14. Wood panelled

Alice Temperley's Edwardian house in Somerset features this stunning wood panelled library. She preserved the home's original wood panelling, as the house used to be home to Lord Beaverbrook who often hosted Winston Churchill in this home library. But Temperley added her own touch by painting the ceiling, giving it a fresh take.

home library ideas

Get the look: Try Lassco for vintage furniture and lighting. Retrouvius stock vintage panels.

(Image credit: Future)

15. Modular

For rental homes, a modular bookcase is a stylish piece of furniture you can invest in – and take with you when you move. It can be adjusted to fit each space perfectly, and can be switched up to display different sized objets.

home library ideas

Get the look: The modular shelving is by Nils Holger Moormann. The LC4 Chaise Longue is by Le Corbusier. The sofa and ottoman are Flexform.

(Image credit: Future)

16. Built-in lighting

Built-in lighting is a chic and elegant way to illuminate your book collection.

home library ideas

Get the look: Art is Gustav Rembrandt etchings. Sofa is the Noel sofa by Pinch, upholstered in Pierre Frey velvet, from The Future Perfect. Rug is a custom mohair pile rug by MND. The coffee table is custom by Gachot; leather inset top with lacquer base.

(Image credit: Design by Gachot)

17. Choose minimalist design

For a more minimalist approach, we adore the LEMA Booken bookcase – a design classic.

Your most treasured reads move out of the background to become a design feature in their own right, banding together on a series of oak bookmarks to work not only as a nifty, hanging library, but a stylish side table and shelf for resting your cup of tea on.

While a horizontal rather than vertical library takes a bit of getting used to, soon you won’t want anything else – just think, no more neck ache craning to find the right book and, thanks to the built-in bookmarks, no more losing your place or resorting to the sinful practice of thumbing-down pages.

home library ideas

(Image credit: Future)

18. Incorporate objects to add visual interest

Break up rows and rows of books by stacking some horizontally, and adding in other objects too to create pockets of space – for example a vase, photo frame or ornament. 

home library ideas

(Image credit: Mark Selen)

19. Corner nook

Bespoke shelving makes a feature of the unusual angles at play in this study.

home library ideas

Get the look: The shelving is by Darma. Orchid sells tall Chinese urns.

(Image credit: Future)

20. Use a freestanding bookcase to break up a room

Designer Tara Bernerd used this central, concrete and wood bookcase to not only house her treasured possessions (and her TV), but also as a way to cleverly break up the open-plan living area into two separate areas.

home library ideas

(Image credit: James Merrell)

home library ideas

(Image credit: James Merrell)

home library ideas

(Image credit: James Merrell)