There are very few things I love more than a really, really great book. You know, the kind of book that keeps you up reading “just one more chapter” far too late into the night. The kind of book that gives you a pang of sadness as you turn the final page. The kind of book that you’ve reread so many times that the characters feel like old friends. I love books so much that I actually started the literacy non-profit Success Won’t Wait in 2002. So, when I learned that “bookshelf wealth” was a new interiors “trend,” I practically stood up and cheered!
What is bookshelf wealth?
In December 2023, San Diego-based interior designer Kailee Blalock defined the term “bookshelf wealth” in a TikTok video. And the term went viral almost instantly.
Architectural Digest has already dubbed it 2024’s First Major Design Trend and explained the look this way, “Think overstuffed couches, contrasting textiles, and a swoon-worthy collection of art. And, of course, books. (Lots and lots of books.)”
Here’s how to get the bookshelf wealth look, in three easy steps!
Step 1: The Bookcase(s)
Bookshelf wealth is less about authentically replicating an English manor house or a walnut paneled gentleman’s library, and more about creating a cozy nest (you know, a place to actually read all of those glorious books!). The best news is, that this style can be incorporated into any design style from mid-century modern, to Arts and Crafts, to modern farmhouse.
If you already have beautiful built-ins… yay! You are way ahead of the game. But bookcases need not be enormous, intricately carved, or prohibitively expensive to achieve a cozy look.
The IKEA Billy bookcase is a perfect example. Used in multiples, it’s easy to cover an entire wall. With just a bit of carpentry, and the addition of some moldings, these inexpensive shelves effectively mimic built-ins. (Related: Click here for cozy, easy to achieve window seat inspiration.)
No space? No problem. Skinny bookcases flanking a window or a single bookcase positioned near a comfy chair can give the same affect (although not on such a grand scale as an entire wall, of course).
Step 2: The Books
A key factor to remember is, according to Blalock, “These aren’t display books. These are books that have actually been curated and read.”
That dog eared copy of your all-time favorite novel? Include it. Paperbacks? Yup. Cookbooks, art books, gardening books, whatever your passions are, showcase them, even if the book covers aren’t “pretty.”
What won’t work? Anything that looks staged (like “the” Tom Ford coffee table book, which seems to be everywhere). This also includes turning books around so that you can’t read the spines (a look that always puzzled me a bit) and monochromatic or covered books.
Step 3: The Art… of Personality
Art hung on, leaning against, and layered on shelves is a hallmark of the look. But art doesn’t have to be interpreted solely as framed oil paintings or prints. Art can also take the form of beautiful Murano glass vases, vintage cameras, collections of small wooden boxes, or handcrafted pottery.
According to Homes and Gardens, “the bookshelf wealth trend features art displayed in unexpected ways – stacked on the floor, hung over bookshelves, or asymmetrical. It’s what happens naturally when photos, books, and other decorative items are accumulated over time.”
In my home, I personally display a ukelele that my father (a Marine) brought back from somewhere, a vintage Model T car horn that I unearthed while thrifting, and a stunning earthenware bowl my daughter haggled for in a marketplace during a semester in Turkey. They all coexist harmoniously on the same bookcase and they “work” together because they all have meaning… to me.
I believe that surrounding yourself with the things you love, and with memories you cherish, creates a warmth than no amount of “styling” can replicate. When bookshelf wealth is done right, your home will feel like a hug!
While you’re here, please take some time to enter our most recent style giveaways. And, if you enjoyed learning about the bookshelf wealth style of interior decorating, please visit Fabulous Interiors for even more inspiration.
HOW TO GET YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE FEATURED HERE: If you have a fashion, beauty or home / garden style product line and want an honest evaluation, or if you would like to create a giveaway or promotional event, please contact us.
MY DISCLAIMER: No financial compensation was received in exchange for this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I believe will be beneficial for my readers.