“There is no furniture so charming as books, even if you never open them or read a single word,” said the nineteenth-century writer Sydney Smith. A shelf full of books adds instant appeal to any room, whether in the form of bespoke joinery or stand-alone shelves. We’ve looked for the most inspiring designs for bookshelves in the living roombedroom or study. From modern designs, to mid-century classics and spy novel numbers which conceal hidden doors, there are bookshelves of every type in this gallery to inspire something as intriguing as the tomes that fill them.

Once you’ve decided on the bookshelf for you, have a think about how best to organize your books. Are you someone who likes them color-coded? Or by size? Take a look at our piece on how to arrange your bookshelf for more advice.

Entryway Bookcases

Entryway Bookcases
Stained Built in bookshelves around an entryway

In the library at Wolterton Hall in Norfolk, two panels of faux book spines, on either side of a door, drop down to reveal a drinks area hidden behind – aperitif bottles are on the left and digestifs on the right. Once closed, they are indistinguishable from the other shelves and you would never know they are there. woltertonpark.co.uk

White bookcases framing a home office entryway

In the painter Haidee Becker’s north London house, bookshelves have been built into the recess of the wall and along the top of the archway. In the fairly neutral space, the addition of hundreds of books adds color and texture.

Green built in bookshelves framing an entry door

Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, in a bespoke green, frame the doorway with a view across the hall to a bedroom beyond in Thomas Dane’s Gloucestershire house.

Built in bookshelves in a passageway

If you happen to have a reasonably wide hallway or landing, adding bookshelves can be a brilliant way to add interest (and storage). At her converted schoolhouse in Battersea, Atelier Ellis founder Cassandra Ellis has created a library with floor-to-ceiling shelves in the hallway.

Stepped Library Bookcases

Stepped Library Bookcases

Work with the architecture of your room. The alcoves to either side of a fireplace are the ultimate spot for built-in bookshelves. In Kit Kemp’s new hotel Ham Yard, the designer has carried them round the wall and over the door-frame, (a trick also favored by our editor Sue Crewe in her home) and teamed them with a chic patterned paper in muted colors.

White bookcases stair stepped up a staircase and built in below the staircase

Kate Aslangul of Oakley Moore decorated this light-flooded library on the second floor of a Parisian home, in which architect Pascal Collange incorporated a bookshelf into the staircase, a signature style. The room is painted in Farrow & Ball‘s ‘New White’ while the pendant lights are from Mullan. Bespoke metal spindles create an arts and crafts feel together with a striped runner from Hartley Tissier, an Anglo-French carpet company.

Built in bookshelves in a winding staircase

In lieu of an actual bookcase, antiques dealer Sarah Fenwick installed this Cole & Son wallpaper in the stairwell of her London home. The effect is playful and adds a sense of depth to the space.

Fireplace Bookcases

Fireplace Bookcases

Floor to ceiling bookshelves add visual impact and character in the home of designer Beata Heuman.

Green covers both the walls and bookshelves in the eclectic, colourful London house of a novelist and lifelong collector. A vintage Venetian mirror from Tarquin Bilgen is flanked by paintings by Anne Rothenstein and a pink lamp by Cressida Bell. A flamingo from Graham & Green is beside an armchair in an Ian Mankin blue stripe, next to which is a statue of a boy from Bora Bora.

Bookcases around fireplace mirror

Try combining books with mirrors. Lulu Lytle, owner and director of the interiors shop Soane, uses mirrors on the walls that are not shelved to ‘maintain the feeling of open skies in our sitting room’. The clever use of storage, wrapped beautifully around the Peter Twining designed chimney wall makes the room feel lighter than air.

Breakfast Room Bookcases

Breakfast Room Bookcases

Hidden Door Bookcases

Built in bookcases creating a hidden door in a study

This eighteenth-century barn has been converted into a stylish sitting-room-cum-guest-cottage, by its owner Emma Burns, managing director at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler. Emma adapted the internal configuration to create a striking way of displaying her book collection. The built-in bookcase equipped with a ladder also acts as a secret door to a hidden bathroom.

Built in bookcases creating a faux door

A jib door opens from the library into the kitchen in this London flat designed by Hugh Henry.

Source (with plenty of more examples):