Build Your Own Library with Custom Bookshelves

5 ideas to house your collection of books—whether 20 or 200

If you live with a book lover, you know that one book can quickly multiply into ten. It’s the kind of proliferation that seems to grow overnight, filling shelves, tabletops, and chairs until every surface—including the floor, with towering stacks of hardcovers and paperbacks—is covered in books. But you don’t have to get rid of your treasure trove to reclaim your space (thank goodness!). Instead, think storage—from built-ins and open shelving to custom designs. For everyone who’s ever tripped over an errant book that found its way onto the rug, these shelving ideas from Sweeten homeowners will come as a welcome relief.

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Building bookcases around their fireplace was a must-have for Cat and Jordan to store their generous collection of books. Looking to design a clean, modern home that was sparsely decorated, the couple turned to skim coating for smooth walls and kept artwork to a minimum. The varied spines of the books bring an added bonus of color and vibrancy to the space.

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With too many books and nowhere to store them, this Brooklyn couple relied on their contractor to come up with a solution that wouldn’t add visual clutter to their Scandinavian-inspired home. By taking a few inches from the kitchen, the contractor enlarged the nearby hallway. The adjustment was just enough to fit custom shelving along the length of the hall, creating plenty of storage for their books while making the bare space feel bright and lively.

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The existing storage in Christine’s apartment was no match for her considerable library, so the books found their way into every nook and cranny. To build a space suitable to accommodate them, she transformed the wall behind her bed, installing a floor-to-ceiling built-in. With the new location of the shelving and twin wall sconces, reading in bed has never been more enjoyable.

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Floor space can be scarce in a studio or one bedroom, a fact of life that Casey and Kumar had accepted. Rather than building their bookshelves from the ground up, the couple placed them over the sofa in their living room, taking advantage of the full expanse of the wall to fit as many shelves as possible. The storage keeps their collection organized and within reach, making it easy to grab a book and settle in for a good read.

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In the process of connecting their dining and living rooms, Jessica and David discovered the molding throughout their home was beginning to fall apart. While repairing the trim along the windows, their contractor realized that the space beneath the ledge would be the perfect location for built-in shelves. The new shelving neatly fits two rows of books, creating a sunny spot to display the couple’s favorite reading material.

Our cost guide on custom built-ins will bring you one step closer to the library of your dreams.

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