As an interior designer I am often called upon to help my clients decide where to place and display their books. Whether you are an avid paperback reader or you have an entire family devoted to hefty hardcovers, I’m going to show you some inexpensive ways to turn those books into a focal point for your room.

Hardcover books often come with a lofty price tag. Many of my clients request built-in display shelving which they plan to eventually fill with books yet to be purchased. I want to caution against this, as a single shelf worth of hardcover books can cost hundreds of dollars. Those fancy libraries you so admire in magazines often contain hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of books. Solet’s start with the books you own already shall we.

BABBK---1--Web1 If you own 25 to 40 display worthy books, consider stacking them on a table, short stool or even the floor. Stacked books add a graphic element to any room and can say as much about you as your choice of clothing. Better to create a couple of smaller stacks than to make a mountain-sized stack, as you won’t be able to easily get at your favourites if you’ve placed too many in one location.

BABBK---2---Web2 If the sheer volume of books in your possession is more overwhelming, one of my favourite low budget tricks is to purchase readymade book shelving from Ikea. Try to purchase enough of the shelving to span wall-to-wall. They often have multiple sizes in the same finish that will aid you in this. Be sure to secure all bookshelves to the wall to keep them from tipping. Then simply fill with your favourite books and prized decorative items. It’s a great modern way to make your space feel expansive and give it a custom look.

3 If you’re lucky enough to have room in the budget to design a library area, by all means do it. This fantastic under the stairs library by Lynn Donaldson & Associates was designed for a busy family living in an older Calgary home. Not only is it a great use of space, it also adds a fantastic graphic punch to an otherwise utilitarian area.

Did you buy a builder’s house with built-in display shelving flanking the fireplace? Resist the urge to fill the space with store bought decorative items. My suggestion is to fill the shelves with a boxful of old paperbacks. My favourite trick is to turn them around so that you only see the pages rather than the covers. It won’t matter if your entire collection consists of cabin tattered Harlequin Romance novels. Instead of looking cluttered, the pages of the books make a modern and clean look up on those top shelves. This is a really easy care solution that doesn’t require a bunch of dusting, just a quick swipe with the Swiffer once in a while.