Hot Take: The Best Book Storage Ideas Don’t Involve Shelves

Three easy, unexpected alternatives.

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Don’t believe everything Beauty and the Beast taught you: A sprawling wall of bookcases may be dreamy, but when it comes to your personal library, shelves are actually kind of overrated. Sure, we appreciate a good color-coordinated ledge, but there’s something artful about a simple book stack. 

A single, tall pile makes a fun statement on its own, but some extra creativity goes a long way, too. The colors, size, and quantity of the books you use affects just how impactful your arrangement will be—you can really go as subtle or as striking as you’d like. And best of all, you don’t have to put in the effort of assembling a Billy bookcase all by yourself. Try these three styling ideas to take your stacks to the next level in every sense.

Tie Them Up

photography by Talisa Sutton

You know how a good belt can make the most oversize dress look instantly tailored and put-together? It can also do the same thing for a tower of books. Consider this pile in Badlands Journal founder Talisa Sutton’s home: A simple leather belt transforms it into a chic sculptural element.

Stack Them Into a Makeshift Console

photography by meghan mcneer

If you can’t imagine parting with a single book, take a note from Domino branded visuals director Meghan McNeer and heap your whole collection together, tall and wide. “When I moved into my apartment, it had this nook that was a perfect depth for books, but I didn’t have any shelves. I’m a book junkie and had all these books that I had already read, so I didn’t necessarily need easy access to them,” she says. “I decided a book installation was in order. It became a shelf of sorts for other things I love, like my lucky piggy bank.”

Treat Them Like an Art Gallery

Photography by AMBER MAY

You can also do as Domino style editor Elaina Sullivan does and treat your books like works of (functional) art, keeping them in a series of short stacks on a coffee table or the floor. “I wanted them to feel architectural, like pedestals,” she says. “I like to have my favorite covers on the top, so it becomes like a vertical 3-D gallery wall with an ever-evolving installation of books, magazines, and objects.” If you ever get tired of the look, just rearrange them!

Now get some book recommendations: The Best Summer Books, According to Team Domino I Read 60-Plus Books Every Year. Here’s How I Do It What to Read This Summer, Based on How You Want to Feel