7 Creative Ways to Display Books

A room with two chairs, a picture rail lined with books and a full book trolley to illustrate creative ways to display books.

If you’re a dedicated bibliophile, its likely that you’ll always be collecting books. But where to store them? Once you run out of bookshelf space, titles often end up living under beds or in wardrobes – sometimes just in stacks.  We’ve been there so we’ve listed our favourite creative ways to display books in this post (photos taken in our own house unless specified otherwise).

Note that this post includes affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase through these we receive a small amount of commission at no cost to yourself.

The Book Trolley

This one has to come first simply because it’s the most versatile and fun.  We only bought our book trolley quite recently and I’m not sure why we held off for so long.  This piece of kit has so many plus points:

  • It’s moveable so you can wheel it around the house easily.
  • There are several shelves which means we can all have a section.  If I had one all to myself, then I’d categorise each one – either by month, or genre.
  • You can fit around 40-55 books in the entire book trolley (an average year’s reading for me).
  • The book cart can be used for other purposes if need be. Little M has served breakfast on this and some people use their trolleys to store art supplies
  • The trolleys come in different colours so you can match them with your decor.

Since I posted a picture of our book trolley on Bookstagram, lots of people have asked me where I bought it. We originally thought we’d order an Ikea model but found a cheaper option on eBay. See here for the book cart that we have (we chose blue which is basically turquoise).  This only seems to ship to UK customers so I found a US equivalent here.  So far, our trolley seems to be quite sturdy but it’s always wise to check out reviews before buying as we can’t vouch for ongoing standards.

Turquoise Book Trolley containing three shelves of books

Other Bookish Design Posts to Explore

The Comic Book Storage Box

We have quite a few comic books in our house which my husband collected in his teens and twenties. At the moment we keep them in plastic sleeves in a cardboard box but recently we discovered this comic book storage box by RomanyHouse.

Made out of sustainable plywood, it holds 150 comics with sleeves and 100 with sleeves. It’s stackable and collapsable plus is can be assembled without tools. To add to the unique design element, you can frame one comic on one end which really adds to your bookish room decor. This is made in the US, but can be delivered to the UK and various locations across the world. The cost is very reasonable too at £39 (plus postage). Again, check reviews before you buy.

Purchase the comic book storage box from Etsy.

A comic book storage box made out of wood with a Plexiglass frame.
Image copyright RomanyHouse via Etsy

The Bed Library

If you have a bed with a wide bedhead then this can provide another creative way to display your books (with a health & safety caveat!).  The beauty of this – as with all these solutions is that you can change your aesthetic easily by swapping spines.  Modern and Shaker style beds are the best for this but you can buy or make bespoke shelving to suit your room.  The other advantage of this method is that you’ll have your very own bed library ready for bedtime reading.

In this arrangement we’ve chosen to stack the books horizontally rather than vertically as this makes for more stability.  It also allows you to vary your heights. For an extra touch, mix and match your spines with cards and prints.

White and aqua books stacked on a shaker bedstead

The Picture Rail Bookshelf

My husband, Al, came up with this as an idea for storing our paperback books  Our house was built in the 1920s so it has a generous picture rail, deep enough to prop books on.  We’ve managed to store about 40 books all the way around the room. What I like about this style is that it forms a patterned border and shows off the beautiful cover artwork.  If you don’t have an original picture rail then you could install one – maybe in a bedroom, dining room or cloakroom.  Again, you can vary the designs and colours depending on your interior decor. These patterned King Penguins match our eclectic room very well.

The main downside of this is accessibility and dust, but no one will see the it when it’s above their head!

A row of vintage King Penguin Books on a picture rail

The Hanging Wooden Book Rack

This hanging book rack in oak is one for serious interior designers and would look incredible in a minimalist or modern space. This could be used in so many different ways – to display your current reads, or to showcase your favourite books. And it’s a super space saver. You could literally install it anywhere! It sounds like a strange (and possibly risky way) to store books, but judging by the reviews, the unusual mechanism works really well.

Custom-built by AGUSTAVfurniture, the books sit on small wooden plates which are attached to the main hanger using waxed cotton string. These can also be used to bookmark pages. There’s no doubt that this is expensive, but it’s the stuff of book storage dreams!

Buy the hanging wooden book rack from Etsy.

Image copyright AGUSTAVfurniture via Etsy

The Book Dresser

Another outward-facing idea. Now I admit that this isn’t exactly a space-saver but it’s definitely one of our most creative ways to display books. And what you have with this item of furniture is versatility.  Shelves, drawers and a cupboard.  Plus you can move it around.  We’ve displayed books in all sorts of ways on our dresser – to suit our mood and the season. 

Rather than pay for an upcycled piece, we bought an old oak dresser and re-painted it with Annie Sloan chalk paint.  The benefit of this is that you don’t need to strip any varnish first, although there is a yellowish bleed-through with light colours.  I anticipate that we’ll keep on re-designing our dresser as our tastes change.  It’s not a cheap investment, but it’s one that you’ll want to hold onto.

Add a Tiny Book Nook

This won’t necessarily save space but it is one of the truly creative ways to display your books. Book nooks are miniature rooms which you can slot into your bookshelves to give the impression of a secret alleyway in between your titles. We have shared a selection of book nooks for your home library in this post.

Photo copyright LaserCuttingDesigns via Etsy

We hope these have given you some ideas for your own book displays.  We’ve had lots of fun trying to find new creative ways to display books and will add more as we discover them. If you’re still stretched for space then you might like to check out our post on culling your books (although we realise that this is always a last resort!).  Conversely, if you want even MORE books then here’s our feature on how to collect books on a budget

What are your favourite creative ways to display books?

Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. February 5, 2019 / 8:20 pm

    This was such a useful post! I have piles of books growing around the house and my GF is getting a bit peeved with the clutter… Time to implement some of these.

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      February 5, 2019 / 9:00 pm

      Aw that’s great that you found these handy! Combined, these methods hold about 200 books I reckon 🙂

  2. Alice
    February 5, 2019 / 8:55 pm

    I’ve come across your IG/blog a couple days ago while searching for family bookstagram inspiration (hoping to start one on my own soon) and I must say I’ve fell in love immediately :-)). Your ideas for displaying books are great, finally I know how to use the troley we used to have in the kitchen. I’ve got mine at IKEA, it looks very similar to your https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30401789/.

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      February 5, 2019 / 9:03 pm

      Oh thanks so much! Your Ikea link is really helpful. When I looked at similar in the UK they were double the price which is why we searched elsewhere! Looking forward to seeing your family bookstagram 🙂

  3. February 6, 2019 / 2:10 pm

    Wow, such gorgeous pictures! I really liked the trolley idea of storing books. 🙂

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      February 6, 2019 / 2:56 pm

      I highly recommend the trolley! So glad to find your blog via Avalinah’s Books!

  4. February 6, 2019 / 7:25 pm

    Oh, I loved All the displays 😍 wish I could somehow incorporate them at home

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      February 6, 2019 / 9:57 pm

      The trolley is probably the easiest because it can fit in different corners 🙂

      • February 6, 2019 / 10:05 pm

        Yes! But you should see the prices of them here in Brazil! 5 times more expensive them abroad! A little bit depressed with this fact =(

        • thebookfamilyrogerson
          February 7, 2019 / 9:42 pm

          Blimey! I wonder why they’re so much! Is it import taxes?

  5. February 7, 2019 / 3:19 pm

    I love that trolley, such a clever and cute way to store the books x

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      February 7, 2019 / 4:15 pm

      It’s been a revelation. I’m seriously considering buying another one! x

  6. February 11, 2019 / 6:50 pm

    These are great ideas, and such beautiful decor too!

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      February 13, 2019 / 1:50 pm

      Thank you Dee! Sometimes bookshelves just aren’t enough!

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