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Photography by MEREDITH JENKS

Shelves only used for displaying favorite titles? Not quite. Although a true gift for bibliophiles, it turns out your bookcase is the ultimate home essential you never thought you needed for everything else in your life. Be it a purchase from Ikea or custom made, your beloved shelving unit definitely shouldn’t only be used to house your literary collection. Concealing office supplies, displaying inspired blooms, and divvying up floor space are just a few less-frequented ways we like to put our bookshelves to use. Read on for our other favorite hacks.

Photography by Brittany Ambridge

Toy Storage in the Kids’ Room

Designating a vertical spot for your little one to stash their belongings will not only help reduce mess on the floor, but it also lets kiddos admire their favorite toys (and books, too) from afar.

Photography by Homepolish 

Makeshift Pantry

When you love to snack as much as you love to read, install a shelf that lets you enjoy both—like this unique circular unit. Thanks to its clever shape, culinary staples can be quickly snagged from the shelves closest to the kitchen, while the side that faces the living area houses a colorful display of books and other knick-knacks.

Photography by Mikkel Vang

Spot to Display Art

When thoughtfully littered with treasured collectibles and an array of art, your tired shelving unit will certainly take on a more personal role in the home. For a curated showcase, play around with both leaning and hanging your favorite pieces. 

Photography by CULTIVER

Mock Linen Closet 

A proper linen closet is a luxury few apartment dwellers have the chance to call theirs. Who knew a sturdy bookcase was all you needed to put spare pillows, extra sheets, and fresh in their rightful place.

Keep your linen “closet” from becoming a dumping ground for clutter by following these simple rules.


Faux Walls

When it comes to small spaces, multi-functional pieces are key. This modern bookshelf seamlessly transitions into a chic divider.

Find more tips on maximizing tight spaces here. 

Photography by DEBORAH JAFFE

An Entertaining Center

Get the bar you always wanted, by revamping a basic shelving unit. Fill it with glassware, a curated tray of bar top essentials, and a few bottles of the good stuff.

A home bar checklist to help you get started.

Photography by MARY ROZZI

The Garden Shelf

A distressed bookcase effortlessly captures the essence of the outdoors with an eclectic assortment of natural textures and elements – making for the perfect tool and plant storage space.

Photography by JUSTIN BERNHAUT

Closet Organizer

A spot to display the finest of your accessories, when a lack of space discourages it.

See more  clever organization tricks for every room in the house. 

Photography by FORMULA Z/S (SCOTT & ZOE)

The Makeshift Office

When your bedroom, living space, and office are all located within the same room, creating boundaries can be tricky. This brillant revamp takes advantage of a bulky bookcase, with strategically-placed shelves, emulating the real thing.

Originally published January 2015. Updated February 2018. 

Need help styling your shelves?  20 Kid Room Shelves With Styling You’ll Want to Copy 11 Ways Designers Style Their Bookshelves

The Best Bookshelves on Pinterest Right Now

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