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4 Ways to Achieve Bookshelf Wealth

February 9, 2024

By Christa Protano

Just when you thought you’ve collected enough books to make a pretty rainbow on your built-ins, another bookish decor trend has come along. If you are on TikTok, you may have heard of it. It’s called “bookshelf wealth,” and with upwards of 1.7 million views, this one might be around for a minute or two. We may be biased, but any design style with the word “book” in the title is worth exploring. So to that end, we’ve done our research and hope to guide you on ways you can add this look to your living space.

Fair warning: If you are a minimalist, this design style might not be for you. To be honest, when I started Googling the trend, the photos I found gave me pause—these bookshelves are packed with not only books, but artwork, trinkets, lighting, plants, and more. As a person who works from home, the idea of being surrounded by that much stuff on a daily basis sent my OCD levels sky high. But that’s the point of bookshelf wealth—your space should feel lived-in, cozy, and not too curated. And if you love to read and have a collection of meaningful tchotchkes to display, bookshelf wealth can be yours. Here’s how to achieve it. 

Step #1: The Books

Bookshelf wealth can be bibliophile’s dream. It gives you permission to display all the books you’ve read and love (cracked spines, welcome). It doesn’t matter what width, height, or color of the cover. They don’t have to be lined up symmetrically, or even on a bookshelf at all for that matter. You can stack them high on the floor next to an overstuffed reading chair. You can make lots of small piles on your coffee table (be sure to top off one of those piles with your favorite scented candle). And on the bookshelf, you can line them up, stack them, or even turn them backwards to see their gilded edges. The look is a little haphazard, but intentional. 

Step #2: The Trinkets

If you’re like me, you may have a bunch of wedding gifts or heirloom pieces sitting in boxes that have never seen the light of day. Now’s your chance to dig them out and add them to your shelves. I’m talking about pretty serving bowls, vases, heirloom teacups (not all of them, maybe one or two). Or, what about that David sculpture significant other purchased on your last European vacation? The idea is to use accent pieces that mean something to you; things that speak to your personal interests, family history, or hobbies. Just please don’t go to Home Goods and spend your paycheck on random bric-a-brac. Just like your books, your trinkets should tell a story. 

Step #3: The Artwork

If you’ve always wanted to try that idea of hanging a painting over your bookshelf, now’s your chance. What’s more, gallery walls are back (did they ever really go away?), and thanks to bookshelf wealth, you no longer need to get out your templates, levels and tape measures to map out perfectly spaced frames. You can group them together anyway you like. Hang them vertically (but not too straight), or don’t hang them at all. Depending on the size of the frame, you may want to prop them on the floor and up against a wall. 

Step #4: Everything Else

According to House of Hive interior designer Kailee Blalock, who’s bookshelf wealth video recently went viral, this trend is a “whole home vibe.” What Blalock means is embracing your home’s traditional molding, even stained-glass windows, and definitely prioritizing a cozy sitting nook with task lighting (to read all those books, of course). Another must: mixing up patterns and colors in window treatments, rugs, wallpaper, and upholstery to add visual interest. When you think about, despite it’s somewhat controversial name, bookshelf wealth means using what you already have to create a comfortable space you’ll never want to leave. For book lovers like us, we can’t think of a better way to show off our favorite pastime … until the next viral design trend comes along.

Want to add more books to your shelf wealth? Look no further than Canterbury Classics leather-bound editions. With genuine leather covers, printed endpapers, and ribbon bookmarks, the stories you love are now heirloom-worthy collector’s editions.

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