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Bookcases: Uses and Arrangements

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With 101 uses, bookcases are one of the most functional pieces of furniture available. Books aside, they hold photographs, crafts, office supplies—you name it. As far as we’re concerned, a bookcase belongs in every room in the house.

Here are 10 ways to use and artfully arrange a bookcase.


1.  A bookcase can add a punch of style to any room. Make a plain bookcase stand out by painting the inside one shade darker than the paint on your walls. You can also wallpaper the back or line it with a pretty fabric.

2.  Give yourself an excuse to hit the thrift shops. Start a collection of found objects, such as a certain type of vase or pottery. Display them all together on a bookshelf for a coordinated, yet boho chic look.

3.  Deep, open shelves allow you to play. Create a layered look: lean plates, pictures, or large books up against the wall. Add objects or horizontal stacks of books in the middle and/or front of the shelves.

4.  Make a rainbow! A current trend in bookshelves is to arrange books by color. It may take a tad longer to find what you’re looking for, but it has a cheering effect on a room.

5.  If you prefer order, arrange like books together in baskets and label each basket with the books’ theme.

6.  A built-in bookshelf makes a great headboard. You can easily reach books and other nightstand items and artfully display objets d’art for a flexible, ever-changing look.

7.  For added visual interest, consider hanging a photo or painting on the outer side of a wide bookshelf.

8.  Display family memories prominently on a bookshelf dedicated to family photos. You can also add baskets to hold photography equipment so you won’t miss a perfect shot searching for the camera.

9.  Low on cupboard space? Move a bookshelf into the kitchen to hold pots and pans and/or small appliances, as well as cookbooks.

10.  Create an office or craft command center. Use baskets to store paper and other supplies. Keep paperclips, tacks, and other small items organized in mason or baby food jars. For a clever style trick, adhere the jar tops to the underside of the bookshelves so the jars hang above the shelf below. If your office center gets messy, add curtain panels to the bookshelf to hide it from sight when you have guests.