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.

Image by Michelle Nash

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.”

For more ideas on how to style intentionally (while making it look effortless), revisit our story featuring interior designer Javaneh Pirooz’s wealth of thoughtful tips.

Image by Belathée Photography

The Best Bookshelves of 2023

17 Stories

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.

17 Stories Lejon Iron Etagere Bookcase


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.

Crate u0026 Barrel Canyon Natural Wood Wide 3-Shelf Bookcase by Leanne Ford


Ethnicraft

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.

Ethnicraft Pirouette Bookcase


CB2

A designer fan-favorite for its sturdy, stackable nature, CB2’s Helix lets the contents of your shelves be the real stars.

CB2 Helix Walnut Wood Wall Mount Bookshelf


Burrow

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.

Burrow Index Wall Shelf


Afteroom

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.

Afteroom Story Bookcase


Anthropologie

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.

Anthropologie Kalle Sculptural Oak Bookshelf


IKEA

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.)

IKEA BILLY Bookcase


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.

Room u0026 Board Foshay


World Market

Another statement-maker, this rattan beauty feels modern and vintage all at once, with a Sienna finish that adds natural warmth.

World Market Darlene Tall Rattan Arch Bookshelf


Nathan James

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.

Nathan James Theo 6-Shelf Tall Bookcase


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.

Threshold™ x Studio McGee Holladay Curved Wooden Bookcase


Every product is curated with care by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

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