Where do you put books when you have no space?

Many book lovers find themselves in a predicament when their book collections outgrow their living space. As avid readers, the thought of getting rid of books is unbearable. But if shelves are already overflowing, what can be done? This article will explore creative solutions for maximizing book storage when space is limited. From small lifestyle changes to bigger investments, there are ways to keep your beloved book collection while maintaining a clutter-free home.

Assess your current book storage

First, take stock of where you currently store books. Analyze each area and look for any unused or underutilized space. Can shelves fit more books if stacked vertically rather than horizontally? Are there gaps between books that could fit thinner paperbacks? Go through each area with a critical eye.

Also look for areas where books are not the best use of space. For example, storing books in prime real estate like near a window or fireplace is not ideal. Think about where books can be moved to allow for better household flow and functions.

As you assess, be sure to dust shelves and tidy book piles. Not only does this make more room, but it also helps motivate and inspire new storage solutions.

Add or enhance existing shelving

Adding more shelves is an obvious solution to limited book storage. But first utilize all available wall space with shelves. Bedrooms, home offices, hallways, and staircases all work for books. Floating shelves are ideal for squeezing books into tight spots.

Enhance current shelving by installing additional shelves upwards. Most bookcases have room to double stack shelves. Measure carefully and install extra shelving using brackets or standards. Just be sure the bookcase can safely support the weight without tipping.

Consider replacing existing shelving with units that have more storage capacity. Taller bookcases with thin shelves can store more books in the same floorspace. Opt for enclosed cabinets with shelves to reduce dust.

Creative shelving ideas

Think outside the box when it comes to shelving. Household objects and furnishings besides traditional bookcases can double as book storage. For example:

– Underside of beds and tables
– Top of dressers, nightstands, and desks
– Inside nightstands, ottomans, trunks, and headboards
– Bottom cabinets in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms
– Inside closets using removable shelving units
– Backs of doors with hanging shelves
– Staircases using corner shelves
– Windowsills if wide enough
– Ladders with rungs used as shelves

Repurposing household objects minimizes spending while maximizing book capacity. Always double check weight limits and safety concerns when using furnishings not designed as bookshelves. But a little creativity can uncover hidden storage potential.

Organize books for more space

Often, better organization can increase book storage. Some tips:

– Group books by size to utilize all available shelf space.
– Store hardcovers and paperbacks separately.
– Arrange books vertically rather than stacking horizontally.
– Place smaller books in front of larger books.
– Invest in double-stacked or rotating shelves.
– Downsize any hardcover books to paperback versions.
– Keep only current reads out while packing up books not being used.
– Get more shelf height with risers or planks.
– Use bookends to prevent fallen books and wasted space.
– Categorize by color for a rainbow effect.
– Donate books not read in the past two years.

A structured organizing method maximizes every inch. Regularly reassess as new books come in and old ones go out.

Add extra book storage furniture

Sometimes the best solution is adding extra storage furniture specifically for books. Options include:

Bookcases: Like additional shelving, bookcases are purpose-built for books. Having multiple bookcases gives flexibility to arrange by color, subject, size, or aesthetics. Stagger tall bookcases for visual interest and use short ones for cozier spaces.

Book carts: Mobile carts with shelves can be rolled room to room as needed. Useful for small collections or when space is extremely limited.

Book towers: Vertical towers have a small footprint while holding substantial stacks. Rotating options allow easy browsing.

Book cabinets: Cabinets neatly tuck books behind closed doors. Helpful when an organized look is preferred. Glass-front cabinet doors show off pretty book covers.

Book troughs: These angled holders display books attractively. Letting the pages show prevents dust buildup.

Book shelves for walls: Install shelving units on the wall. Useful for holding books creatively in otherwise wasted space.

When selecting storage furniture, make sure it fits available space and weight capacity needs. Measure carefully before purchasing.

Use alternative book storage

Sometimes going beyond traditional furniture opens even more possibilities for book storage. Consider these creative options:

Underbed storage: Use the empty space under the bed for books by installing shelves or plastic underbed containers. Perfect for guest room beds.

Wall hooks: Hooks screwed into walls or ceilings allow books to be stacked and hung. A rental-friendly option.

Wall rails: Rails installed horizontally hold books, magazines or even LP record albums. Visually pleasing when usedgallery style.

Hanging shelves: Hanging a shelf directly on the wall adds display space and a unique focal point.

Ladder shelf: A ladder turned sideways makes an attractive leaning bookcase. Simply secure safely to the wall.

Picture shelves: Frames with shelves inside become discrete book storage. Hang them just like pictures.

With a little creativity, the entire home can be adapted into a bookshelf. Think outside the bookcase!

Store books out of sight

For a streamlined look, tuck books away out of sight. Options include:

Closet shelves. Install shelves in wardrobe closets to utilize wasted space. Use removable shelves to switch back when needed for clothes.

Under stair storage. This often-overlooked area is perfect for book storage. Install custom built-in shelves or store collapsible book boxes.

Basket bookcases. Hide books inside bottomless bookcases concealed by woven baskets. Great for a casual cottage feel.

Trunk bookshelves. Vintage trunks lined with shelves make charming storage. Stylish and mobile.

Secret bookcase doors. Conceal a whole bookcase behind a hinged cabinet door. Open to discover a hidden reading trove.

Out of sight storage keeps books safely preserved and accessible without cluttering living areas. Rotate stock as needed.

Make use of small spaces

Tiny areas dotted around the home can absorb books. Low traffic zones and awkward spaces often get overlooked. Be creative with these compact spots by adding shelves or baskets. Ideas include:

– Inside radiator covers
– Under kitchen islands
– Next to big furniture like pianos
– On top of appliances
– Inside bathroom vanities
– Under ceiling eaves
– Behind doors
– Inside coat closets
– Under staircases
– Behind furniture

Inspect every room for potential micro book real estate. Small shelves and vertical stacking utilize these petite pockets. Avoid moisture-prone spots like near sinks or behind toilets.

Downsize your collection

Sometimes there are just too many books for the available space. Be honest about books you will likely never re-read or reference again. Ask yourself these questions:

– Have I read this book in the past 3 years?
– Does this book still interest me or represent who I am?
– Do I have multiple unread books on the same subject?
– Can I get this information from a more condensed source like online?
– Do I own any duplicate titles or editions?

Ruthlessly let go of books that no longer fit your interests or lifestyle right now. Donate unwanted titles to friends, schools, hospitals, shelters, libraries, or charities. You can later check them out or find online if needed again.

Removing even 10-20% of books can make a substantial difference. Emotionally let go of hanging onto books for vague “someday” purposes. Focus on keeping your most beloved volumes.

Swap out print for digital

Digital books immediately reduce physical storage needs. With unlimited ebooks, there’s no need to keep seldom-read print editions. Consider:

– Switching to reading on an e-reader like Kindle.
– Downloading ebooks from the library rather than checking out print.
– Purchasing new books in digital format rather than print.
– Scanning print books into digital files.
– Accessing online information instead of reference books.

Be selective about which treasured print editions get replaced versus simply adding more digital content. But switching even partially to ebooks really maximizes space.

Store books offsite

If you have an extensive collection requiring lots of space, consider keeping some of the stock elsewhere. Long-term storage options include:

– Renting climate controlled storage units just for books.
– Saving boxes of books with family or friends who have extra room.
– Donating to libraries or schools what you don’t have room for now. Borrow back if needed.

Rotate stock between primary residence and offsite spaces. Keep out only currently read titles and most valued collection items. Offsite storage removes volume without fully relinquishing ownership.

Create bookish wall art

An arty wall display utilizes books both decoratively and functionally. Ideas include:

– Arranging books of the same color into geometric shapes.
– Building a book wall by stacking horizontally with book spines out.
– Alternating book placement with wall-mounted shelves.
– Filling open shelves or cubbies in gallery style.
– Making word art by sorting book titles.

Maximize vertical space by getting creative with book arrangement. Mix sizes, colors and subjects for interest. Secure artfully stacked books in place.

Wall art looks intentional while also storing books. Make the books themselves into the art.

Incorporate books into furniture

Books can become part of the furniture or architecture itself. Ways to achieve this:

– Stack books to use as a side table or plant stand.
– Choose coffee tables or consoles with shelves underneath.
– Buy a trunk, cube ottoman, or bench with book storage inside.
– Use bookcases as room dividers.
– Have a built-in bookcase customized into cabinetry or walls.

Making books part of the furniture design saves space. Pick multifunctional pieces that prioritize books.

Buy or build custom options

For challenging spaces, have storage custom built to fit. Some ideas:

– Commission a carpenter to construct floor-to-ceiling fitted bookcases.
– Have an interior designer look for unused areas to add built-in bookshelving.
– Install custom cabinets with shelves in awkward corners or angled ceilings.
– Use a skilled contractor to build bookshelves into eaves, knee walls or skylights.
– Hire an architect to add a book-friendly extension, loft space or reading nook.

Though more expensive, customization makes maximum use of every inch of real estate. Future homeowners will appreciate the added book storage.

Prioritize books in decor

When decorating a space, optimize the layout for books. Ideas:

– Place armchairs or a reading nook near shelves.
– Use bookcases as room dividers between spaces.
– Build floor-to-ceiling shelves along entire walls.
– Install corner shelves to utilize awkward angles.
– Arrange furniture like sofas and desks perpendicular to bookshelves.

Thinking about books first when designing a room’s look provides miles of shelving. The architecture can reflect book loving.

Add multi-use spaces

When designing or renovating, look for ways to create zones that incorporate shelving. For example:

– Entryways: Build shelves above coat hooks or benches.
– Kitchens: Install shelving spice rack style or in pantry areas.
– Bathrooms: Put in shelving above toilets or next to tubs.
– Bedrooms: Flank the bed with bookshelves.
– Office: Devote entire walls to book storage.
– Dining room: Select a hutch or built-in cabinet.
– Living room: Use bookcases as dividers or next to the fireplace.

Anywhere people gather or pass through is book zone possibility. Make books part of the blueprint.

Incorporate books into decor

Books can become part of room decor beyond just shelves. Ideas:

– Stack decorative books under lamps or on tables.
– Choose book-themed artwork for walls.
– Use old books as part of coffee table or console table displays.
– Repurpose encyclopedia volumes as end table bases.
– Scatter books creatively across surfaces and the floor.
– Feature built-in bookshelves or book walls as the room’s focal point.

Let books be prominently placed like art objects. The decor itself can showcase books as beautiful.


With creativity and an open mind, book lovers can find space for their collections in the most crowded environments. Seek hidden potential in existing areas before expanding storage. Make better use of vertical real estate and consolidate book placement. Downsize and digitize selectively.

Most importantly, embrace books as part of your living space rather than hiding them away. Bookshelves showcased proudly reflect what you value. There are endless innovative ways to keep books close by.

Leave a Comment