As a near-constant Zillow lurker, there are a few things friends often hear me mutter under my breath. An “Ooh, original hardwoods” here, a “Nice, soaking tub” there, but the most coveted of all the design detail remarks: built-in shelving. And though the clean white walls of the open concept era may have wiped out many a built-in, the instant character of the cozy classic is easy to create on your own. To help you find the right fit for your space, we narrowed down the best bookshelves in the game to achieve the lived-in, literary look in 2023.
Featured image of Camille’s living room by Michelle Nash.
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How to Style Your Bookshelves
The best bookshelves are hardworking additions to your space. They add storage, give the illusion of higher ceilings, and offer plenty of square footage for a styled display. But all that runway can lead to clutter if you’re not careful. Our home design editor Stacey Lindsey’s has advice.
“Typically, the tip for a stylish bookshelf is as follows: include one-third books, one-third home décor accessories, and one-third negative space,” she writes. “I’ve learned this rule of thumb from interviewing countless interior designers.”
The Best Bookshelves of 2023
A mix of brass and wood makes for a vintage look that adds instant character. The lightweight piece can easily be folded up and stored when not in use.
Crate & Barrel
We love the playful curves on a typically straight-edged piece, and the fact that Leanne Ford designed the piece with FSC-certified solid wood, oak veneer, and low-emission engineered wood.
It’s clean, classic, and crafted with solid oak for a literary look that lasts. The lofty piece is perfect for expanding smaller spaces and never feels imposing.
A designer fan-favorite for its sturdy, stackable nature, CB2’s Helix lets the contents of your shelves be the real stars.
All the airy coolness of floating shelves with some added visual interest. Burrow’s wall-mounted unit is a perfect fit for small spaces or kitchens.
Stack your books up straight or stagger the rotatable shelves for something a bit more tree-like. Afteroom’s bestselling bookcase (which comes in a variety of mod colors) adds a touch of clean-lined whimsy to any space—big or small.
We love the wabi-sabi nature of the natural wood texture, and while most of our picks keep it simple, this sculptural bookshelf doubles as a work of art.
Nobody does stackable, modular furniture quite like the Swedish giant. And priced at under $100, it’s no wonder the unobtrusive shelving unit has become a bit of an IKEA icon. (The company estimates that one Billy bookcase is sold every five seconds.)
Room & Board
The steel wall unit is made in the U.S. and adds architetural interest. With a glossy finish and sizable scope, Room & Board’s Foshay piece is surprisingly affordable.
Another statement-maker, this rattan beauty feels modern and vintage all at once, with a Sienna finish that adds natural warmth.
The narrow, highly customizable unit is a diamond in the rough when shopping Amazon’s furniture section, with thousands of glowing reviews lauding its easy assembly and high style.
Threshold™ x Studio McGee
The large shelf packs a big storage and display punch while keeping things light and airy. The Holladay comes in both dark and light wood to complement your aesthetic.