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Where to Place Your Bookcase

If you’re an avid reader, or simply an occasional fan of the written word, chances are your home either has or needs a bookcase. They’re an ideal functional piece to house all those unread tomes and all-time faves, but bookshelves also present unique styling opportunities. But, where in a room should they go? From the home office to the living room, there are so many areas that a bookcase would thrive in, so it’s no wonder this is a tricky decision and a commonly-asked question in the world of interior styling.

Putting your bookcase in the wrong location can completely throw your room off balance, but in the right place, it will create a feeling of harmony in the room as well as adding practicality and a burst of colour.

When it comes to bookshelf placement, you’ve thankfully got quite a few options – including some you may have never thought about! Here are our go-to spots for a bookcase in the home.

Things to consider before you place your bookcase

Caledonia Rattan Bookcase with Storage styled in mid century modern living room

Caledonia Rattan Bookcase with Storage | Shop all bookshelves & bookcases

Before you call down the strongest members of your household to lug what’s sure to be a bulky piece of furniture around, there are a few essential considerations you need to make.

Shape

Excellent interior design that’s chic, functional and flows is about creating balance. That means that wherever your bookcase ends up, it’s got to accommodate the other features of the room and allow you to live comfortably and effortlessly.

Bookcases come in all shapes and sizes, but more often than not, they’re tall and rectangular. You might also encounter half-height bookshelves that are between 1m and 1.5m tall, or horizontal bookshelves that come to hip or waist height but make use of space lengthways.

Depending on which style and shape you choose, the placement of the other items in the room should be balanced accordingly. A tall bookcase can’t sit directly next to a tall cabinet or armoire, nor can a long, short bookcase live up against a buffet of the same height and length. Space the items in the room out in a way that feels natural stylistically, but doesn’t crowd pieces of the same size together. The same principles apply to styling – playing with height and size is so essential here. Layer smaller items of varying heights on your bookcase to create dimension and contrast.

Functionality

Bookshelves are perhaps the most useful furniture piece you can have, especially if you have lots of stuff! They’re not just a home for books, but also trinkets, small homewares items, lighting, plants, storage boxes and so much more. When you’re filling your bookshelf and beginning to style it, consider which books you need to hand all the time, and which ones you can rest on top of one another. This layered look is super common because it maximises your space, allowing for lots of different items to be on display at once. Plus, this looks beautiful, breaks up the monotony of a row of books, and serves as a place to sit a plant or piece of decor – total win-win!

As a result, if some books are going to be tucked away out of reach, this could inform where your bookshelf sits in the room or house. Going to display your beautiful cookbooks? There’s a prime position right by the kitchen. Want to create space for DVDs, games or other tech items? The living room it is! Let the functionality of your bookshelf inform where it ends up.

Flow

Finally, the spatial flow of the room is a very important factor to consider. When you add a bookcase to a room, it’ll affect the amount of negative space that is left in the room. If you’re looking for a cosy, comfortable feel, you may have a bit more leeway with placement, but if your goal is spacious and free, it’s important the bookshelf doesn’t overwhelm any part of your room.

There are also certain spots to completely avoid. Practically, a bookshelf should never be placed in front of a window – not only will they block light in this position, but you won’t be able to affix the piece to the wall for optimal safety. Similarly, bookshelves in a smaller room might feel a little off if placed directly next to the doorway. Generally, it’s best to stick to the corners of a small room as it will leave more uninterrupted blank wall space, giving the illusion of a broader, less cramped room.

The perfect spots for a bookshelf

Lang Bookshelf styled in Modern Contemporary living room

Lang Bookshelf | Shop all bookshelves & bookcases

So, now that we’ve outlined the state of play, where exactly should your new bookshelf go? Here are four tried-and-true places that a bookcase almost always works in the home. Of course, if it’s not feeling right, don’t worry – you can always change it later (although, that might be at the expense of the designated family labourers… ).

Behind the sofa

One of the most common spots for a bookcase is against the wall behind your sofa. An especially good choice if you live in a small apartment or house, this space-saving trick still looks gorgeous and adds heaps of visual interest to a room at first glance.

For this placement, you’ll want to use a tall, floor-to-ceiling-style bookshelf and focus it slightly to one side of your sofa, which will likely be centred to accommodate a TV or fireplace. By putting it off to the side, you’re giving the room more depth, and also ensuring you can always reach your books no matter how tight a squeeze it might be between the sofa and the wall. In this position, the bookcase, with all of its beautiful covers and spines, almost acts as an art piece behind your seating area. Plus, you’ll be able to grab a book without even getting up – the perfect feature on a rainy day where you just want to cuddle up with a good read.

As a side table

Monterey Hamptons Style Bookcase styled in Hamptons living room

Monterey Hamptons Style Bookcase | Shop all bookshelves & bookcases

If you’re working with a shorter bookshelf, why not place it next to your couch? This adds even more functionality to the room, as it’ll store your books and bits and bobs as well as acting as a storage space or table. The more surface area, the better, right? Whether you’re reading or bingeing a new show on TV, a small bookcase in this spot will keep you comfortable ahead of a chilled-out night at home. Just add a coaster, grab your drink and you’re good to go!

You can also do this with a larger shelf if your couch is close to the wall, and simply use a shelf or two to store those items that need to be within reach. Add your favourite books to the higher and lower shelves and milk this multifunctional piece of furniture for all it's worth.

Either side of your entertainment unit

If you’ve ever seen those huge, all-encompassing entertainment units but immediately balked at the price, why not do-it-yourself? Grab your existing TV unit and frame either side with a matching bookcase, creating a visually exciting setup as a result. Colourful books, framed photos, plants and even your tech bits will look great displayed on your shelves, and overall, the look will be cohesive and vibrant.

In a cosy corner

Lewes Shelf styled in Modern Contemporary home office

Lewes Shelf | Shop all bookshelves & bookcases

Finally, our last pick for prime bookshelf position is in its own cosy little corner of the room. A go-to for the bedroom, home office or living room, creating a small nook that’s just for reading and relaxing is a great way to give your room some structure and define the space. This choice works better in larger homes or outside of the living room as it’s important to have a bit of space between your bookshelf corner and other large furniture pieces like the entertainment unit. Add an armchair and a basket of blankets and you’ll be ready to snuggle up with the next best thing in literature.

Discover the Perfect Placement

Bookcases can add so much to your space if you nail the placement, so at the end of the day, it’s important to just do what feels right in your home. As long as you’ve got unimpeded access to your favourite reads and items, and it doesn’t overcrowd the room or the other furniture, there’s no right or wrong way to welcome this piece into your existing interior vibe and layout.

Bookshelves on your mind? We can help with that. Brosa’s range of bookcases, shelves and storage pieces are built with care and made to last. Discover all that’s on offer at Brosa, including unparalleled shopping services such as virtual styling and Australia-wide shipping.