The Big Spring Spruce-Up

8 Creative Ways to Store Books (Even if You're Short on Space)

Plus, how to create artful book stacks like you mean it.

March 15, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

For The Big Spring Spruce-Up, we’re throwing our windows wide open and letting in all that fresh air. Follow along for handy tips and game-changing tricks—cleaning and organizing to-dos, home decorating projects, and more.

I’m most definitely a Book Person. I don’t just mean that I love reading—I love physical books. I could never have an e-reader because, for me, half the fun of reading is turning each page. And yes, I find the smell of old books to be lovely and nostalgic.

However, as I’ve written about before, I live in an apartment with minimal storage space. I try to keep my book acquisition to a minimum by patronizing my local library and borrowing from friends, but every once in a while, I find myself in a bookstore, and naturally, I have to buy something.

So, what’s there to do when you have too many books and not enough space? You have to get crafty! Our fellow Book People on Pinterest have quite a few creative ideas on how to store books when you can’t fit a bookcase in a more traditional way—here are some of our favorites.

At the Foot of the Bed

A bench or cube organizer at the end of your bed is the perfect spot to store all the books in your “to-read” pile. The rustic yet minimal look of this bedroom is quite charming (and we spy an additional stack of books in the corner), but you could use this same idea with any decor style. If you want to take it even further, there are bookcase headboards you can buy, as well.

Along Unused Ledges

Most homes have little ledges here and there, whether it’s on the staircase, above cabinetry, or elsewhere. Many people display little knick knacks on these surfaces, but you can also use them as a makeshift bookshelf. Just be sure you choose books that will fit comfortably on the ledge so no one gets bonked in the head by falling novels.

On High Shelves

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: The upper portion of your walls is probably being neglected. Many people leave this area empty, but it’s the perfect spot to install a long shelf (or two) and line up all your favorite books. We love how this room has several shelves installed along the ceiling and a bare wall underneath—it allows plenty of storage space without feeling cluttered.

Under Benches

If you have a bench in your entryway or living room, you can always store books under it (unless you have pets that will ruin your beloved novels, then definitely don’t put them down low.) We’re crushing on this makeshift bench and all of the big coffee-table books it houses. Very cool and eclectic.

In Neglected Corners

Look at the corner of your living room—do you just have a plant or chair placed there? You can do more with that unused space and use it to house a couple of bookcases. IKEA has a simple corner bookcase that provides ample storage space. Bonus points if you find extra-tall bookcases that reach all the way to the ceiling.

Down Long Hallways

Instead of setting up a purely decorative hallway table, why not create a hallway bookcase? We love the idea of having a half-height shelving unit running the whole length of the hallway, housing all of your favorite novels for guests to fawn over. Plus, this convenient height will allow you to simultaneously display other things, like plants, artwork, and candles. Win-win.

Stack ‘Em Up

When all else fails, you can always use stacks of books as purposeful decor. This combination of books, plants, and windows makes for quite the picturesque scene, especially if you’re into the whole “backward book” trend. If your books are bigger and/or hardcover, you can even use them as a mini side table or plant stand. (Just make sure your plants don’t leak.)

On Any Blank Wall, Really

The big takeaway of this article is that pretty much any empty space can be reimagined to house your precious collection of books. Even a small wall like this can house a few shelves that will allow you to store a couple dozen books. Then, the problem becomes trying not to buy any more...

Do you have a clever way to store your books? Let us know below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • WOW
  • Diana Maureen Sandberg
    Diana Maureen Sandberg
  • M
  • Steven Williamson
    Steven Williamson
Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.


WOW March 16, 2019
WOW. Mounting 1,000+ pounds of books six, seven feet off the floor on Ikea-like shelving is a bad idea. No offense Ikea, I like Ikea. Firstly you would need a very competent, well-insured contractor to do this job. Cha ching with potential super headache(s). Especially if theses bookshelves fall on your head!

It also looks odd and chaotic.

And piling books willy nilly on floors in the house? No. Just no. Sloppy. And dust bowl nightmare.

The long hallway bookshelves: excellent. : )

Fondest regards.
Diana M. March 15, 2019
Apparently the books stacked under the fabulous window, and the books on the super high shelves, are not books to be read at all? Somebody is not clear on the concept here.
Steven W. March 17, 2019
Honestly, anyone with that many books could not POSSIBLY keep reading them and re-reading them...I love the feel of the page in my fingers as I turn them and the heft of a book as much as anyone and there are about 50 I will never stop lugging around when I move, but really? Kindle holds everything else and it doesn't need dusting.
M March 15, 2019
Curious how much effort is put in to keeping those books on the floor in good condition. Dust will gather in, around, and behind them. Mopping proves difficult unless you move them every time. Being low on a walkway like that brings extra grime. Spills would be a nightmare.

Some sort of lift up, even a board underneath, would help, but ideally, stacked away from foot traffic, maybe on a carpet where it's easier to clean around.