Top tips for creating a super-cool bookcase

2/02/2016 07:09:00 am HELEN STILES 0 Comments


I'm feeling a little bit guilty this morning as it's been a while since I last posted, but January has just flown by. I can't quite believe we're in February already and one twelfth of the year has gone! For the past few weeks I've been visiting trade shows, seeking out cool new designers, working on the spring/summer collections for Hide & Seek and planning, planning, planning! Added to which, I've recently taken on 2 new interior design clients and signed up for my first show stand (you'll be able to meet Hide & Seek in person at the Country Living Fair in Islington in March). So the year has certainly started with a bang and I am feeling super motivated for what's to come!

Which brings me on to today's post...bookcases. I've been browsing and researching bookcases and libraries for some lovely new clients who have a pretty considerable collection of books to store in their new home. It's a lovely problem to have, as books really help to make a home feel cosier, plus they add character, colour and interest. The minimalists out there might shudder at the thought of all that visual clutter, but done well, bookcases can look amazing.

So I thought I'd share a few inspirational images and tips for creating home libraries and bookshelves that really do look stunning. First up is the Barbican apartment above, designed by Maria Speak from Retrouvius (who really can do no wrong in my book). Pardon the pun!

If you're a minimalist at heart then this is the way to go – organise your books by height and colour for less visual clutter. It's a fairly buttoned-up look, but this stops short of being uptight thanks to the bright and textural boucherouite rugs (not to mention that beautiful reclaimed parquet on the wall).


Or if you're feeling a littler freer, then go for a more laid-back display. This relaxed bookcase works brilliantly in what is probably one of my favourite libraries of all time. The secret here is that the overall colour palette is fairly neutral. The decorative accessories on those shelves add interest, but they are all in natural and wood tones, echoing the lovely table and neutral rug. It looks collected rather than decorated and stylish without trying too hard. Beware this look is harder to achieve than it looks!



My third tip is to always take book shelving up to the ceiling. If you have nice coving, then take it up to the bottom. Anything that stops too short of the ceiling can look stubby and cheap. Or go one step further and take your shelving up and over windows and doors. Not only does this give you more storage space, but it looks beautifully architectural and grand. The bookcase in the image above is actually at one end of a kitchen – and I love the way the built-in shelves have created a nook for that squishy sofa and reading light.



My fourth tip is don't be afraid to decorate your shelves with things other than books! (I don't mean shove your keys, unopened mail and general clutter on there), but choose a few items to help mix things up. Hanging a picture or two on the front of your bookcase looks cool and irreverent (it's completely normal in the States by the way, but I know makes some of us Brits feel a little uncomfortable!) The sculptural pieces also stand out really nicely against the black background and turn this into a glamorous, collected statement.


If your book collection includes some beautiful coffee-table tomes, then why not display them facing forwards? Simple shelves like these are available from ikea and turn this alcove into an art display. Again, the colour palette is restrained here to black and white, but I could see this working equally well with a really colourful collection.

My final tip for creating a super-cool bookcase is lighting. This could be an entire post on its own as there are so many options, but some of my favourites would be: LED strips hidden under shelves; contemporary picture lights mounted at the top of each section; swing arm wall lights attached to the uprights...or even just a beautiful table lamp or two nestled amongst the books. It really pays to sort out your electrics before you install your shelving so that sockets and wiring are where you need them and you don't end up with unsightly wires. Whatever you choose, a well-lit bookcase looks way cooler than an unlit one.

Happy Tuesday!

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