Save Your Bookshelves With These Organizations Tips

Monica Gray - January 24, 2024

Do you feel frustrated with your bookshelf and feel lost trying to figure out how to change it? We’re here to help bring you new ideas and a stellar checklist to spice up your home and the life of your bookshelves! Anouk, who is a reviewer on BookTok, a sub-community of readers and people who love books on TikTok, wrote, “If my bookshelf is looking like a total mess, I feel like a mess, but a well-organized bookshelf radiates calmness, and I feel calmer.”

If your home feels disorganized, your bookshelf is probably a good place to start. Emily Aki, another reviewer, wrote, “When things in my life get chaotic, that can be reflected in my living space. When I’m ready for a reset, I’ll often start by cleaning up my bookshelves.” There are tons of different styles and creative ways you can display your books, art, and tiny trinkets on your bookshelves. It’s time to get organized! By the time you’re finished, you’ll feel like you have an entirely new space.


Rainbow Pattern

If you’re a colorful person, then organizing your books on your bookshelf in a zigzag or straight pattern will create a unique, dynamic visual effect. You can organize your books by the color of their cover. For the best and most visually pleasing look, organize them in the color of the rainbow, which is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Organizing books on a bookshelf in color order is a visually striking and aesthetically pleasing way to create a vibrant display.

It’s also easier to locate certain books. If you remember the color of the book’s cover, you can easily find it. You can use it as the focal point in your living room or bedroom. You’ll have a rainbow of literary treasures in your home. There’s nothing wrong with that! (Book Bub).

Actually Writing

Go For Innovative Shapes

You can have fun with this one! Organize the books on your bookshelf by shapes, symbols, or letters. This is where you can use your imagination, and organize the books in spirals, waves, or geometric patterns. It easily adds a fun element of surprise to your living room.

According to the Writing blog, “Because books come in different sizes. You can also make cool patterns or shapes along your shelves. Such as making a wave-like pattern: by starting with the tallest books and then moving down towards the shorter books. Then after a really short book work your way back up toward taller books and repeat the pattern again and again. Till your bookshelf looks like a sea of books. Or pointy mountains of books.” This is a great option if you’re someone who has a ton of books at home (Actually Writing).

Style By Emily Henderson

Use Storage Boxes

If you have a huge library full of books in your home, it can look and feel overwhelming. A good way to break up all those books is to use storage boxes. This is simple, all you have to do is use a mixture of shelving and concealed boxes to store toys and books of varying sizes and colors. It’ll take care of the mess and keep the chaos at bay.

In her blog Style Emily Henderson, writes, “Pick a color palette. You will want to begin by picking a color palette for your storage items and sticking with it. Nothing will make your bookcase feel more cluttered and unorganized than a bunch of mismatched boxes and bins. Start from the bottom and work your way up. To ground your bookcase you will want to place your largest storage boxes and bins at the bottom, so that it doesn’t feel too top heavy, and you can keep the top half filled with smaller and lighter accessories and storage needs.” With this simple hack, you’ll have an organized bookshelf in no time (Style by Emily Henderson).


Stack Them As A Tower

It’s easy to go minimalist when organizing your books as a tower. If you have a home library, you can create a tall, freestanding book tower and pair it with a stylish armchair or ottoman where you can easily read. To give it that extra appeal, stack the books in alternating directions on the right and left side shelves. The spines will face out, and the pages will face in.

The users of Reddit loved this design, and wrote, “This is such a cool design! I’m going to have to get some for myself for tight spaces that would fit a tower of books.” Towers have little platforms every few books to prevent them all from toppling over. The beauty of this minimalist approach extends beyond aesthetics; it also maximizes space utilization, making it ideal for tight spaces. The added platforms strategically interspersed within the tower not only enhance stability but also contribute to a visually appealing and functional design that garnered admiration from the Reddit community (Reddit).


Alphabetical by Author

If you have a lot of time on your hands and want to organize your home especially, you can organize books alphabetically based on the author’s last name. This is a fun Sunday afternoon project that’ll get you thinking. If you have a lot of books, you can designate one shelf for each letter.

If you usually remember an author by their first name, then you can organize each book by the author’s first name. The Order Expert suggests, ” Do you recall book titles better by author’s first name? If so, consider this technique a try. Be warned, you must focus on the author’s first name, and not the last name (old habits die hard!).” This might be a little harder, but if you use an author’s first name, then this is a great way to keep yourself organized (The Order Expert).

Click and Love

Layer Your Books In Odd Numbers

It’s all about balance, which is why layering your books is such a great way to draw in the eye. You can use potted plants, artwork, and meaningful knick-knacks. To make your space seem more unique and sophisticated, use art to layer it across your bookshelf. To add a bit of personality, use unique memorabilia, photographs, and other pieces to add texture, color, and a warm, inviting look.

According to the blog Click and Love, “An easy way to layer is by adding larger framed art or pictures to the back wall of your shelves. This adds depth and is a great way to add a splash of color or pattern. You can also layer your framed pieces by staggering different size frames on top of one another. Stacking books horizontally is a great base for layering. Once you have stacked a few books on top of one another you can begin to add different accessories on top of your books… Try to work in groups of 3 or any odd number. Odd numbers catch the eye!” The more space you have, the more you can add (Click and Love).


Take a Minimalist Approach

You can easily style your floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in a minimalist style using spare stacks of photography and art, colored in white, red, and black shades. According to Enjoy Travel Life, the minimalist approach “means treating your bookcase more as a vehicle for displaying a few well-curated artworks and objects.

Of course, you can still use it to house, you know, books, but consider a smaller number of carefully chosen volumes when it comes to modern bookshelf decor. Try placing large and bulkier items on the bottom shelves so that it draws the eye up, up, up! This will help create balance and direct attention to your more delicate and striking items on the top.” The more balanced your bookshelf is, the more attractive it will look (Enjoy Travel Life).

Bless This Nest Blog

Add A Few Spotlights Above Your Bookshelves

What’s the point of having a display of beloved books, if you can’t show them off? If you have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, add some pendants to put the spotlight on your books. That way, you can see just how many books you have and what they say.

Blogger from Bless This Nest added spotlights to the top of her shelves and loves how much it changed the look of her bookshelves. She wrote, “We drilled them in and luckily we had electricity already attached to the bookshelf. I still can’t get over how they look now. Just the small addition to the top made such a huge impact. Isn’t it SO MUCH BETTER?” A little bit can go a long way! (Bless This Nest Blog).


Randomly Stack Your Books

For a cozy and laid-back ambiance, consider creating small, artfully disordered stacks of books throughout your living space. This approach is particularly appealing for individuals who appreciate a more relaxed and informal home organization style. The absence of a specific order in these book stacks adds a touch of spontaneity, giving your home a warm and inviting character.

These casually arranged book stacks seamlessly integrate with other pieces of furniture, fostering an atmosphere of comfort and ease. Unlike more elaborate and formal decorations that might alter the overall ambiance, these easygoing stacks contribute to a homey and welcoming feel. Picture a living room where small stacks of books serve not just as literary treasures but also as elements that enhance the comfort and charm of the space. Embrace the allure of a relaxed aesthetic that effortlessly complements the unique character of your home. (Quora).


Use Leaning Shelves

By using a casual mix of books with plants, art, objects, and family photos, in unison with narrow-leaning bookshelves, you’ll have a more effortless, eclectic feel. You can sort these books vertically and horizontally for a not overly styled or overly visually stimulating feel.

If you have exposed brick, then using a leaning shelf is a great way to add a ton of visual appeal. According to Homedit, “A wide bookshelf unit casually leaning against an empty wall is just what a space like this needs to feel complete. The exposed brick and the metal and wood elements set the perfect décor for such a piece.” The best part of a leaning shelf is that it’s easy to change its location whenever you want to spruce up the space (Homedit).

House Digest

Fill In With Decor Objects

If you have bookshelves but most of your books live on your devices, you can use those bookshelves to your advantage. Instead of filling them with books, fill them with decorative objects, small pieces of art, and small sculptures, as we’ve mentioned before. The only difference is to use art decor instead of books.

If it’s built into the wall, you can also fill in your bookshelf with a fresh coat of paint. This is a fun way to experiment with color that’s not permanent. Using wallpaper is another way to freshen up your bookshelf. According to House Digest, “refreshing a bookshelf and is more cost-effective and less time-consuming than repainting the entire piece. Additionally, using wallpaper allows you to get creative with textures and styles and create a more dynamic piece than just painting alone. Ever wanted to see what your bookshelf would look like with a geometric or art-deco-inspired design? Now’s your chance!” Who said you had to use only books on your bookshelf? (House Digest).


Sort By Publication Date

Embark on an enjoyable weekend project by sorting your books based on their publication date, either arranging them from the oldest to the newest or vice versa. This not only adds a dynamic element to your book organization but also provides a unique opportunity to deepen your connection with your collection. Exploring the evolution of literary styles and trends as reflected in the publication dates can be a fascinating journey through your personal library.

If the chronological approach doesn’t resonate with you, consider an alternative method by organizing your books according to the month you intend to read them. Kickstart the year with a selection of books you plan to read in January, creating a personalized reading schedule for the rest of the months. This method not only adds an element of anticipation but also ensures that your reading goals align with the changing seasons and moods throughout the year. Whichever approach you choose, turning your book organization into a thoughtful and intentional process can make it a rewarding and engaging experience. (The Order Expert).

TLC Interiors

Go High and Wide

Create a sense of dynamism with a high and wide bookshelf, that reaches from the floor to the ceiling. The collection is stacked with alternating styles, from a mix of both vertical and horizontal. This breaks up the effect of stacked shelves and keeps the eye moving across the bookshelf.

According to TLC Interiors, “Naturally, the horizontal books will be stacked largest at the bottom and smallest at the top. You kind of want the stack to resemble a pyramid or wedding cake. You can have dedicated sections for the horizontal stack, but you can also butt them up against a vertical run of books at the end of a shelf too.” (TLC Interiors).

Dream Green DIY

Stack According to Weight

Enhance the visual appeal of your bookshelf by incorporating books of varying weights and sizes. Create a balanced composition by strategically arranging different items on each shelf. For instance, designate one row for spacious storage bins, another for neatly stacked magazines, a separate row for an assortment of books, and another for decorative objects. Complete the ensemble with a top row dedicated to lightweight paperbacks. Designer Nikki Klugh wrote, “You want to feel like it’s well-rounded.” If it’s not well-rounded, your space might look off or simply cluttered

This thoughtfully curated arrangement not only adds aesthetic diversity but also contributes to a less cluttered and more open look. Interior designer Nikki Klugh emphasizes the importance of achieving a well-rounded feel. A carefully balanced combination of storage bins, magazines, books, and decorative items creates a harmonious and visually pleasing display. The result is a bookshelf that not only serves its functional purpose but also enhances the overall ambiance of your space. Avoiding an overly cluttered appearance ensures that your space maintains a sense of balance and sophistication. (Oprah Daily)


Keep The Shelves Low

Opting for low-to-the-ground shelving is a practical choice that ensures easy accessibility to your books. This design concept is particularly beneficial for households with children, making the bookshelves reachable for readers of all ages. By placing grown-up books on higher shelves and kids’ books on lower shelves, you create a user-friendly and inclusive reading space.

A Pinterest user shared their experience with a purpose-made bookcase, highlighting its ideal characteristics. The length allows for ample storage, while the low height prevents it from dominating the space. The narrow design ensures a reasonable pathway, making it easy to navigate around. This thoughtful approach to shelving not only enhances accessibility but also contributes to a well-organized and aesthetically pleasing environment (Pinterest).

Library Journal


Transform your bookshelf into a personalized library by organizing books according to genres such as fiction, non-fiction, mystery, and fantasy. This systematic approach not only adds order to your collection but also allows for easy navigation when you’re in the mood for a specific genre. Each section becomes a curated space that reflects your literary preferences and interests.

Alternatively, consider arranging books based on personal preference, organizing them from your favorites to your least favorites. This method, whether you’ve read all the books or not, ensures that your most cherished titles are prominently displayed and easily accessible. This intuitive system enables you to quickly locate your favorite books without the need for extensive searching, creating a more user-friendly and enjoyable reading environment within your home (The Order Expert).

Love to Know

Store Them Behind the Glass

By adding a tall, free-standing glass front shelf along the back of your home library, you’ll not only keep your books protected from dust but also keep them on display. You can add a few household objects around the shelves to keep it organized and keep it feeling both light and airy.

This is a more casual way to store books, while also keeping your home looking sophisticated According to Love to Know, “When placed inside a glass cabinet or glass doors built onto the shelving systems, the issues created by sharp angles created by the shelves are remedied.” Your books, and style, are protected (Love to Know).


Stack Books Horizontally

After seeing books stacked vertically forever, it’s only natural to want to keep them stored that way. But you might want to switch it up and start stacking them horizontally. This is a methodical, intentional way to keep your space organized and prevent it from looking cluttered. You can also easily grab whichever book you want without having to worry, especially if you’re only stacking a few on each other.

This is especially true with folio books. According to Biblio, “Large folio books, for example, are best stored horizontally on their side. Since folio books tend to be larger and the text blocks can be quite heavy, the weight of the text block can cause it to separate from the spine if they are stored in the upright position.” To protect your books, store them upright (Biblio).

The Home Depot

Hang a Single Shelf

Maximize your long desktop workspace by incorporating a lengthy single-open bookshelf above it, creating a centralized and organized storage solution for your books. This design not only optimizes vertical space but also keeps your reading materials conveniently within reach while you work.

For an added touch of charm and homeliness, consider embellishing the bookshelf with decorative elements. Place a vibrant plant at one end to introduce a touch of nature and freshness to your workspace. Additionally, add a stack of wooden boxes at the opposite end to serve both as a decorative feature and a practical solution for keeping the shelf tidy. This combination of books, greenery, and wooden accents not only enhances the visual appeal but also creates a warm and inviting atmosphere in your workspace, making it a delightful and functional corner for both work and leisure. (Reddit).

Stevie Storck

Focus on Placing Objects In The Middle

By using clean, white shelves, leave space on the sides so your display has room to breathe. This will create an evenly placed look that captures a minimalist style. According to Stevie Storck, “It makes good sense to place larger, heavier and/or more densely spaced objects on the lower shelves and smaller, lighter items with more negative space near the top. The “breakpoint” between the two should fall around waist height. If your shelves go the whole way down to the floor, keeping visual weight in mind is especially important.”

It’s all about visuals when it comes to bookshelves, and shelves in general. You can also distribute weighted items evenly. Marissa Hagmeyer from the NEAT Method wrote, “Organize in plain sight by placing bins and baskets on lower shelves to categorize items like toys, files, technology, and crafts.” Placing heavier objects on the bottom will prevent you from hurting yourself when reaching for heavier items (Stevie Storck).


Try L-Shaped Shelving

L-shaped shelving proves to be a versatile solution, offering a range of functionalities from art display to efficient book storage. Utilize the horizontal segment for showcasing artwork or decorative items, creating an eye-catching feature. Meanwhile, the vertical section can serve as a practical book storage solution, with the flexibility to organize both horizontally and vertically stacked books. Additionally, consider incorporating low cubby shelves for books in progress, maintaining a tidy and accessible arrangement.

Depending on the height and placement of the L-shaped shelf, leverage the opportunity to infuse creative decor. Top shelves can support heavier items and a mix of vertical and horizontal book stacks, contributing to both functionality and visual interest. Enhance the overall aesthetic by introducing plants, adding a touch of greenery that not only complements the design but also creates a refreshing and inviting atmosphere. This thoughtful combination of form and function transforms L-shaped shelving into a dynamic and visually pleasing element within your living space. (Etsy).

Style By Emily Henderson

Create Gaps in Open Shelving with a Japandi Style

Take a unique approach to open shelving by incorporating intentional gaps, introducing variety and visual intrigue. This design choice allows for the integration of long, medium, and short open shelves, creating open spaces that serve as ideal spots for showcasing items like plants and art pieces. The result is a more captivating and dynamic visual display that breaks away from traditional shelving arrangements.

As highlighted by Style by Emily Henderson, a free-standing open bookshelf can deliver the same impactful visual appeal as a wall-mounted one. This approach is particularly effective in a Japandi-style home, characterized by the fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian decor elements. Embrace the unexpected with open shelving gaps, transforming your storage solution into a visually compelling and artistically curated feature that adds character to your living space. (Style By Emily Henderson).


Go Old School

Why keep it modern, when you can go old school? Use wrap-around bookshelves in your home. You can add stacks around the base and a library ladder to give it that library feel. You’ll be able to reach for the top shelves easily. Spruce it up with vintage leather armchairs and multiple seating arrangements for a cozy, inviting feeling. The whole family will be able to use this space.

You could even get more creative and use an actual ladder as a bookshelf. Once the ladder is securely fastened on the wall, you can add books and other trinkets for this farmhouse, old-school style bookshelf (Decorated Life).

The Spruce

Get Playful

Inject creativity into your bookshelf design by organizing decor in a playful pattern or opting for a uniquely shaped bookshelf. Consider choosing a bookshelf with a distinctive design, such as one shaped like a tree, especially when decorating a kid’s room. This whimsical choice not only adds a unique touch but also provides a canvas for adorning the tree-shaped bookshelf with cute and quirky decor items.

The enclosed nooks in a tree-shaped bookshelf offer an excellent opportunity for organizing learning books and infusing an element of fun into the reading experience for children. The imaginative design, coupled with carefully chosen decor, transforms the bookshelf into more than just a storage unit – it becomes a focal point that encourages a love for reading and sparks creativity in a child-friendly environment (The Spruce).

My Domaine

Incorporate A Few Floating Bookshelves

If a built-in bookshelf feels like too much in your home, consider utilizing floating bookshelves. Typically, they’re less stuffy and a bit sleeker, especially if you’re working with a smaller space. They’re also better for those of you with a tighter budget and less to work with. If you have exposed brick, floating bookshelves work well since you can still see the brick and aren’t completely covering it up.

Designer Sarah Jeffreys said, “We wanted to create the feeling of light, floating, and minimal shelves that almost disappear in front of the exposed brick walls. Metal angles are bolted into the brick walls to carry the weight of the shelves with books on them. Bespoke wood shelves are then slid onto the metal angles so no metal is visible and one is left curious how the shelves and heavy books are supported.” You can decorate them with horizontal books and tiny trinkets (My Domaine).


Organize By Series

TikTok influencer Bosworth recommends organizing your books by series, and also by color. She says, “I organize those by color, which is tricky because ROYGBIV [the colors in the rainbow] isn’t always as straightforward when it comes to book covers. I try my hardest to color coordinate, but I am forever moving books around.”

If you’re someone who’s constantly picking books up and putting them back down, maybe give this organization hack a try. She also says, “Put your favorite reads where you can most easily see them. Having my favorites at eye level makes me feel happy, increases my motivation to read, and can spark a great conversation when someone else notices them. Talking about your favorite book with someone else is the best thing ever!” That’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon! (RD).


Size-Based Organization

To create a visually interesting arrangement, organize books by size. This can be smallest to largest, or largest to smallest. You can also switch it up and do multiple variations of size on the bookshelf.

To make it even more visually appealing, organize your books by color in addition to size. According to Extra Space, “Grouping books by size can be used to draw attention to things like larger books, special editions, or even artwork on your shelves. It’s also great for people who tend to think visually.” If you think visually, then this is a fun project to bring into your living space (Extra Storage).


Inverted Stacks

Arrange books upside down for a quirky, artistic display. Who said your books have to face upright, anyway? This is a fun weekend project, and all it involves is a little bit of tape.

According to Instructables, “It’s a satisfying optical trick and doesn’t damage any of the books. You can take books in and out of it whenever you want.” It’ll be a conversation starter, for sure! The books are easy to remove and replace, with minimal effort (Instructables).


Remove Book Bindings

Go for a full-on library feel by removing the book bindings on your books and giving your space a natural texture and feel. The natural binding mind is more visually appealing than a vibrant, brightly colored cover.

Designer Caroline Aycock says, “The natural color and texture of the book give your shelves a true library feel. I never purchase a coffee table book without peeking under the glossy cover to see the natural binding first.” To remove the binding, cut the cover off with a knife, and cut the sewn thread bindings (My Domaine).


Separate Fiction and Nonfiction

One way to organize your bookshelf is to separate the fiction and nonfiction books. Not only will this make your bookshelf more functional, but it’s a fun way to keep things organized.

This Reddit user suggests, “I am a function-over-aesthetic person, though I try my best to make things look neat. I separate fiction and non-fiction. Within non-fiction I separate school textbooks from the past and others. Then within them, I separate them by subject. Within each of the separations above, I try to put them by size. That way I can go to the book I have in mind easily, instead of, you know, recalling the color of the book or the exact title of the book which I’m bad at.” You’ll know exactly where your books are and where you need to find them (Reddit).


Separate Your Hardcovers And Paperbacks

If you find yourself blessed with enough books to fill an entire bookshelf, consider organizing it with a touch of fun by separating hardcovers and paperbacks. This simple yet effective approach not only adds a systematic organization to your collection but also contributes to a visually pleasing arrangement.

By creating distinct sections for hardcovers and paperbacks, you not only maintain order but also make the process of finding specific books much more efficient and enjoyable. This thoughtful organization enhances both the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your bookshelf, turning it into a visually harmonious and easily navigable space. (Clutter).

The Spruce

Monochrome Spines

For a visually striking and cohesive aesthetic, consider organizing your bookshelf spines in monochrome, especially if you have a substantial collection in one color. Opting for a monochromatic approach, such as going all-black on white shelving, can create a balanced and moody look, particularly when integrating darker colors. This method not only aligns with the overall aesthetic of your room but also contributes to a sleek and harmonious visual appeal.

The monochrome arrangement becomes a great complement to colored accents in your room, especially if bold, bright colors are present. By aligning the bookshelf color scheme with the room’s aesthetic, you achieve a seamless integration of your book collection into the overall design, creating a cohesive and stylish ambiance that enhances the visual impact of your space (The Spruce).


Organize By Collection And Subject

If organizing any of the above ways is too frustrating, try doing what TikTok blogger Rosier does. She said, ” For example, I have a whole shelf dedicated to Sarah J. Maas, another to Colleen Hoover, one to mythology retellings, and then, of course, a shelf where I display my title, Silver Valley.”

Then, she takes it to another level. She writes, “But then I like to make it aesthetic—some books are stacked horizontal, some parallel, others cover out, all the while peppered with an array of candles and merch. It’s kind of like mini shrines! I can look at my bookshelves for hours and swoon over them.” If you love your books, it’s always a good idea to put them in a space you love (RD).