22 Ways to Arrange Your Bookshelves

With these great bookcase ideas—from painted backgrounds to labeled boxes and baskets—give your space a quick and simple upgrade.

Picture frames on shelves
Photo: Sang An

Find inspiration for your shelves and bookcases in these great photos.

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Use empty picture frames to create visually striking geometric patterns against a wall.

Picture frames on shelves
Sang An
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A cleverly arranged bookcase can be as pretty as a window view.

Home office in living room
James Baigrie
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Borrow a trick from interior designers: Inside a bookcase, use paint that's a couple of shades deeper than the room color.

Monica Buck
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For maximum pop, try arranging the shelves with solid-colored items, like white ironwork or a vibrant vase.

Bookcase, table, and chair
Monica Buck
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Imagine living room shelves as a display space for your favorite books, photographs, and family heirlooms.

Living room
Chip Cordelli
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Give bathroom shelves an organized look by grouping together like-colored towels.

Beauty products and towels on shelves
Jonny Valiant
07 of 22

Use labeled boxes to house odds and ends without a home.

Colorful shoe boxes for storage on a bookcase
Antonis Achilleos
08 of 22

Shelve items by type―pots on one level, books on another―for a systematic look to your kitchen.

Cookbooks on a shelf with pots
Justin Bernhaut
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A simple arrangement of classics has the order and stateliness of a library.

Books and vases in a bookcase
Sarah Maingot
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Style a bookcase with unexpected items, like an eye-catching antique or a porcelain statue.

Monica Buck
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Ordinary items collected in glass jars make an arresting still life.

Shells and rocks stored in labeled jars on shelves
David Prince
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Organizing a colorful collection of found objects makes an offbeat (and inexpensive) alternative to wall art.

Hall makeover
Mark Lund
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Even just a few striking objects can create a visually interesting display.

Clocks used as bookends
Aya Brackett
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There's no rule saying that everything has to match. Though these letters vary in look, they work together because they are alike in essence.

Shelves decorated with letters
Lucas Allen
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Want to make a bold statement? Let paint do the talking for you.

Repainted shelves
Mark Lund
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Open shelves and steel hardware give a room contemporary flair.

Coffee table and couch
Hallie Burton
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Whitewashed shelves and conch-shell book stoppers feel as restful and airy as the seaside.

Shells in a vase on a bookshelf
William Meppem
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Hang a chalkboard inside sliding doors for extra playtime fun (or to log your children's TV time).

Media center
David Land
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Use a furry friend to keep your child's favorite reads in place.

Stuffed animal as a bookend
Kathryn Barnard
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Use inexpensive baskets to provide catchall space for sundries.

Organized shelving
James Baigrie
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Divvy up cubbies among your kids and allow them to arrange their belongings as they see fit―so long as it's neat!

Toys and books stored in cubbies
David Prince
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A smart cleaning strategy for drop-in visitors: panels that prettily disguise what's on the shelves.

Decorated bookcase
Hallie Burton
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