Where To Place Bookshelves: A Complete Guide

Where To Place Bookshelves

Bookshelves are a very functional piece of furniture to add to your living space. Not only do bookshelves hold books, but you can also use them to show personal items such as family pictures, decorations, professional documents of achievement, and memorabilia. Bookshelves, besides storing books and other things, also provide a sense of organization so that you can easily locate any book in your collection. So, where is the best place in your home to put bookshelves? 

Figuring out where to place your bookshelves takes consideration and planning. Looking at your personal style, your family’s needs, and your home’s layout will help to determine where to put bookshelves. Bookshelves can go almost anywhere. 

There are many great spots in your home to consider for bookshelves. It’s just a matter of deciding which location works best. Having guidelines that help you think through the advantages of where to place them is an excellent decision-making resource. Keep reading to get started on figuring out where placing bookshelves makes the most sense. 

Where Can You Put Bookshelves? 

Bookshelves can essentially go anywhere in your home. There are so many styles, shapes, and sizes of bookshelves, the possibilities to create a specific look in any part of your home are endless.

A bookshelf can be the focal point of a room, or it can blend into the background. It can be just for storing books or displaying artwork, family pictures, or plants. What are the best locations for a bookshelf?

Here are some of our favorite spots for bookshelves:

  • In a family room or living room. 
  • In bedrooms.
  • Next to doors or windows.
  • In the kitchen.
  • In a corner.
  • Behind or around a couch. 

Figuring out where to put your bookshelves is a fun decorating project that ultimately says much about your personal style. Don’t limit yourself to where you put them; there are many places within your home and many kinds of bookshelves to consider. 

Let’s have a closer look at where you can put bookshelves and offer ideas and suggestions for each location. 

Can You Put a Bookshelf in the Living Room?

You can place a bookshelf in your living room. A bookshelf placed in this space can be a statement piece, or you can set it so that it blends into the background. 

In a prominent room like your living room, a bookshelf can be a statement piece that stands out and says a lot about your personal style. There are many unique bookshelf designs that not only store books but look great when artwork, shells, plants, and other decorative items are also placed alongside your books. 

Here are some great ideas that can take your bookshelves to a whole other level:

  • A dedicated, multi-use bookshelf that can also house your entertainment center is a very functional use of space. A set-up like this could wrap around the corner of your living room and create a very cozy area for family and friends to hang out. The TV remote, games, books, and magazines are within arm’s reach. Even better if you can incorporate your fireplace into this design. 
  • Consider floating bookshelves or wall mount bookshelves that take up very little space and are an easy way to dress up your living room. With so many styles, colors, and lengths of floating bookshelves, you can get very creative with where you hang yours and what you display on them. 
  • A ladder bookshelf or a leaning bookshelf is a very stylish type of unit that enhances your living room’s decor. Since this type of shelving is free standing, the design allows you to rearrange them to create a distinct look and feel in your living room with ease. 
  • Unsure of the size of the bookshelf you might need? Consider starting with a modular unit. Designed to interlock or arrange by stacking, you can start with a small set and add on as your needs change. Modular arrangements frequently have drawers or cabinets to hide away items for a clean and more organized look. 
  • Bookcases that double as console tables that are placed next to or around your couch are an excellent use of space. You have book storage below and a flat surface on top where you can place a reading lamp. There are some very attractive wrap-around couch console designs.

An area not to forget in your living room that works well for a bookshelf is behind a couch. Frequently, we make the couch the focal point and forget about what should go behind the couch. Filling that space with a bookshelf is an easy solution for this dilemma.  

These are just a few of the many ways you can use bookshelves in your living room. If you do a lot of entertaining or your family spends a lot of time in your living room, bookshelves are added convenience and style. 

Are There Places You Shouldn’t Put a Bookshelf? 

Storing your books on a bookshelf is an excellent way to ensure that they are being treated in a way that will preserve them. However, if your bookshelves are in places where the books can get easily damaged, it doesn’t matter whether they are neatly stacked or not. 

There are a few environmental considerations for where you place a bookshelf in your home, and you’ll want to be careful about the following conditions:

  • Books and high humidity do not mix; damp conditions cause mold, mildew, and fungus. Keep your bookshelves and books out of humid rooms.
  • Choose a well-ventilated spot for your bookshelves. 
  • Keep your books out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can damage books and cause them to degrade quickly. UV will cause the paper to turn yellow and the ink to fade. 
  • Cooler temperatures are better for books than hot temperatures. 
  • Books stored in extremely dry conditions can become brittle, and brittle pages are fragile. 

The only places that are not ideal for bookshelves in your home would be near showers in bathrooms or in basements, porches or attics that are damp, or areas that may not be heated. Shelving should also not be placed where the books will receive direct sunlight. This may seem like common-sense information, but it is worth mentioning in terms of caring for your books. 

As long as you place your bookshelves out of the direct sunlight and humidity, you can be confident your books will last a long time. 

Bookshelf Placement in Small Spaces

We have some suggestions on where to put bookshelves in smaller homes and apartments. It can seem impossible to figure out how to get the added room for bookshelves with limited space. 

Here are a few ideas: 

  • Corner Bookshelves– These are bookshelves designed to fit into corner space. They are a popular way to add storage when you have limited space. There are many stylish choices of corner bookshelves that add flair and extra book storage.
  • Wall Mount Bookshelves or Floating Bookshelves- We mentioned these earlier for use in living rooms, and these are a great way in a small home to open up floor space and gain bookshelves. 
  • Multifunctional Bookshelves- If you have a flatscreen TV or a computer, consider a shelving unit that not only holds your books but other items you need access to. 
  • Bench with Book Storage Below- Add this near the front entryway or a hallway- store books below and use the top as a place to put keys, winter wear, or add a lamp for additional hallway lighting. 
  • Tree or Ladder Bookshelf– Similar to a corner bookshelf that can be tucked away in a corner, these bookshelves can be placed against a wall. The “tree” has alternating angled “branches” that serve as shelves. The ladder can be free-standing or attached to the wall and is shelving for books. Both are compact and sturdy. 
  • Divider Bookshelf- If you need to divide up a small space like a bedroom, consider breaking up the room with a larger bookcase. This idea works well if you want to create a study or work area separate from your bed, or if you have roommates or children sleeping together, you can create two spaces using a large bookshelf as a divider. Not only are you creating space within a space, but you are also adding storage for books and personal items. 

The way to make small spaces work to add bookshelves is to get creative with your room. It’s essential to think “outside the box” and make use of areas you might not normally consider, especially in a home or apartment with limited options. 

These are just a few of the many great ideas to make efficient use of space for bookshelves in small spaces. 

Bookshelves in Your Home Office 

Bookshelves in Your Home Office

If you have an established home office or are like many of the millions of people who recently shifted to working from home, you may have books, paperwork, or professional documents that you need to store.

Adding bookshelves is an excellent way of organizing everything you accumulate when you work and makes your workspace look professional. Plus, there are all the items you need to keep your home office running smoothly. Think printers, computers, computer paper, office supplies. 

Not only are many of us working from home, but we’re also having our meetings at home through teleconferencing platforms such as Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet. Communicating with peers, business associates, managers, and teams from your home is now the norm. In most cases, it just makes sense to present yourself in a professional-looking setting. Bookshelves help your office look professional.

Framing a Window or Door with Bookshelves

If you find you have little open wall space, placing bookshelves around a door is an excellent use of space. The area around or under the windows can also be used for bookshelves.

  • Bookcases around a door, especially a door to a room you spend a lot of time reading in make sense. Consider either your living room or bedroom doors wherever you most likely hunker down with a good read. This is an attractive option that leaves room for other furniture items in your home.
  • Bookcases around windows are, again, a space saver for other furniture items. Bookshelves can be tall and vertical and frame the window, or they could be low and go underneath the window. 

The only concern you’ll have with placing bookshelves near your window is that you don’t want your books sitting in direct sunlight. Otherwise, both these places in your home are a creative and fun use of space. 

Bookshelves in Bedrooms

If you enjoy falling asleep reading a good book, having bookshelves in your bedroom means your book is easily accessible when you hit the sack. 

You can create an entire wall shelving that can also serve as storage space, put books on the upper shelves, and baskets on the lower shelves to hold clothes, blankets, or shoes. You can also add a personal touch by adding pictures, artwork, or plants. 

Some headboards are designed as bookshelves, and this makes perfect sense because the bookshelf is so close by, you can easily stow your book when you are ready to fall asleep. 

Having bookshelves in children’s and young adult’s rooms means a lot of extra-functional storage space. You can arrange the books on the upper shelves and place boxes or baskets for storage on the lower shelves. You can create an entire separate play area with a low bookshelf and table and chairs for the younger ones. 

Create a Book Nook

A book nook is a place in your home where you can curl up and enjoy reading. Your book nook can be simple and small, or it could be an entire room. The primary purpose of a book nook is that it’s where you can get away without other distractions and read. And most book nooks have bookshelves. 

Here are some ideas for your book nook:

  • The Make-Do Book Nook– Creating a special spot where you can settle in and read can be as easy as placing a comfortable chair near a window with a small bookshelf loaded with all the books you plan to read. Be sure to add a reading lamp so that you read whenever the mood strikes you. 
  • Kids Reading Corner– A great way to encourage your youngsters to read is to create a comfy area away from TVs, computers, and laptops. Throw in a few chairs or a couch along with books that are old favorites and new reads. Have your kids get involved and help create a space that is their very own for just reading. Use wall mount bookshelves for safety and ease of use. 
  • The Window Book Nook– Do you have a bay window or one with a custom seat? This is the perfect place to make a personalized reading area and give the space a real purpose. Adding shelving, cushions, pillows, and throws will make the area a very popular spot to plunk down and read. You can add bookshelves on with side of the window or below. 
  • The Tucked Away Reading Room– If you happen to have a space that is too small for anything really functional but large enough for a couch, bed, or chair, a lamp, and a handful of books, consider making it an intimate getaway spot where you can cozy up to a good read; the space under stairs, an unused alcove or attic, or anywhere you can tuck away a comfy seat and books.
  • Library Book Nook- Do you have an extra room in your home that you can dedicate to a library? If so, you can make more of a book nook with more creature comforts conducive to reading. Consider floor to ceiling bookshelves, add great lighting, and a big cozy chair or couch and plants. Having a room, you can dedicate to just reading and relaxing is a treat. 

Having that special place in your home that is dedicated just to reading has many advantages; not only does it encourage reading for you, but it can get the younger members of your family more interested and engaged in reading. 

Bookshelves in Your Kitchen

Bookshelves in Your Kitchen

You may not have thought of this, but the kitchen can be an ideal place for a culinary cookbook collection. It just makes sense to have your cookbooks within reach of where you will use them the most. 

Just be careful of placing them near the sink or the dishwasher for apparent reasons. 

Many kitchen cabinets have windows, and if you have the extra cabinet space, you can showcase your cookbook collection in a cupboard.

If you lack extra cabinet space, consider adding a wall mount shelf to create a space for your cookbooks. You can also add other decorative items or plants and liven up your kitchen. 


We’ve covered a lot of ground regarding where you can place bookshelves in your home. This guide is an excellent resource to get you to think about the many ways a bookshelf can work within your house. Now that you have some ideas start looking at where you have space for a bookshelf consider the many different styles, and develop a plan. 


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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