Types of Bookcases – Their Features & Uses


Last Updated on April 27, 2023 by SierraLivingConcepts

Bookcases and Their Long Shelf Life

When one thinks of bookcases throughout history, Hollywood-conjured images seem to immediately flood our thoughts; where floor-to-ceiling walls of bookshelves with their infamous rolling ladder are ready to whisk you away to your next work of literature. While these dreamy libraries have certainly dominated many households throughout the world, modern-day bookshelves now come in a variety of architecturally-minded designs in a range of styles, sizes, and even functions. Whether borrowing from tradition or taking on a whole new profile, the role of a bookcase not only serves as a station for your favorite works of literature, but they have also become a platform to display curated vignettes, photo frames, succulents, and other accent pieces. They are excellent expressions that add warmth and personality to your home, while at the same time, communicating a lot about what you read, collect, and love.

Types of Bookcases

It’s no secret that bookcases make for great storage, and a well-styled bookshelf is an excellent expression that adds warmth and personality to your room. But how do you choose a bookcase that best suits your space?

1. Cube Bookcase

Are you looking for a bookshelf that is more than just practical storage? Does your vision include an eye-catching piece that brings a decorative touch all it’s own? A cube bookshelf is more than just a designated place to tuck away your titles or show off your decorative objects:

Solid Wood Black Stair Step Bookcase
Vallejo Solid Wood Stair Step Bookcase
  • With its modern, clean lines and bold boxy silhouette, a cube bookshelf can serve as a focal point, especially when paired with eye-catching artwork or a rainbow of brightly colored book spines
  • As a divider, a cube shelf can separate specific areas in a shared bedroom, visually separate an open-plan living/dining room, or break up the monotony in a studio apartment

The unassuming configuration of a cube bookcase also allows them to integrate effortlessly into different roles beyond merely that of a holder for books:

  • In a playroom, a cube organizer can make the counter for a storefront or act as the foundation for under a craft table
  • Backless cube shelves can serve as a unique stage for your planters, especially when set against an oversized window in a sunroom or solarium

The angular, proportional compartments serve as excellent playgrounds for any number of unique collections. They can effortlessly:

  • Highlight your teacup collection in the dining room
  • Show off achievement awards and trophies in the office
  • Boast your family tree of photo frames in the sunroom
  • Create a cinephile’s compendium of movie tiles and memorabilia in the den

2. Geometric Bookcase

Looking for something with an artistic vision that can easily cater to an industrial or modern taste? A geometric bookcase is unparalleled among its peers:

  • The cube shelf’s stark lines and modern framing make it as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing
  • The geometric compartmentalizing of the shelf space allows for an individualized display of cherished titles or decorative pieces
  • Often divided into both horizontally and vertically cubby-like sections makes for a very statement-making room accent that permits easy selection and viewing of various collections
  • If using solely for media or books, you have yourself an effortless means of the organization by category or color for a punch of wow that will make an impact on anyone who stops by
Gadsden Contemporary 8 Open Shelf Solid Wood Geometric Bookcase

A geometric bookcase can accommodate a variety of uses:

  • Offers open storage for easy selection and viewing of your books, media, and other collections
  • Beautifully stores books in unique context to your decorative pieces
  • Can be mixed with a variety of furniture pieces for a contemporary aesthetic
  • Comes in a variety of capacities to give you the ultimate flexibility to fit any space or need
  • Great as an office organizer to house books, binders, documents, or reference materials
  • Easily displays art, books, DVDs, CDs, collectibles, photo frames, and more

3. Ladder Bookcase

Does your space need a freestanding bookshelf that can fit anywhere, even in small spaces? Is versatility at the top of your list when it comes to shelf space? The ladder, or leaning bookcase, is a great organizational investment that can be used anywhere in the house:

Ignacio 5 Open Shelf Solid Wood Leaning Ladder Bookcase
  • Place in the entryway with wicker baskets and shoe bins for a unique take on the hall tree
  • Lean it against a kitchen wall and it becomes extra pantry space
  • Next to a bathroom pedestal sink, you’ll gain plenty of extra “counter” space for toiletries, a magnifying mirror, mason jars, and stacks of towels
  • Your cleaners, solvents, and stain removers will find a neat and tidy home in the laundry room
  • In the garage, the ladder bookshelf is a perfect mechanic’s companion
  • Makes for a refreshing take on the traditional nightstand with easy-access shelf tiers

With style to spare, the leaning bookcase is not your average blocked-off of shelves. This open and airy bookcase:

  • Breaks up the monotony and adds a 3-dimensional look
  • Brings height plus interest to a room
  • Is a breath of fresh air that disrupts the mind’s eye from the average and creates an interesting focal point

4. Bookcase with Drawers

Love the aesthetic of a bookcase, but prefer some concealed storage to accompany this look? Then a bookcase with drawers, a bookcase with file drawers, or a bookcase with doors is the solution you need to:

Proctorville Rustic Wood Stair Step Cube Bookcase With Doors & Drawers
  • Corral clutter in the living room at a moment’s notice
  • Organize the office while still displaying your awards and keeping easy access to your files
  • Conceal odds and ends in the den you’d rather have tucked away
  • Keep special occasion dinnerware in the dining room and away from the hubbub of the kitchen

Wherever it is needed most, the combination of open and closed storage offers the best of both worlds, plus the look can stretch across any decor scheme or capacity:

  • Enjoys an approachable appeal with a natural look
  • Combines a bookcase with drawers to create the perfect marriage of display and storage
  • Accentuates any home decor from traditional to modern and everything in between
  • Refreshes your space with a unique spin on the traditional

5. Corner Bookcase

Is space at a premium? For a contemporary look with architectural integrity, a standing corner bookcase can add an easy upscale look to your room. A corner shelf acts as an attractive decorative statement that can also:

Cameroon Contemporary 5 Shelf Solid Wood Corner Ladder Bookcase
Cameroon Contemporary 5-Shelf Solid Wood Corner Ladder Bookcase
  • Store items that don’t have a specific home
  • Bring functionality to a bland, unused corner of the room
  • Arrange items in easily accessible locations
  • Display treasured collections with open shelves
  • Keeps an out-of-the-way place to better protect delicate and fragile decor pieces
  • Provides suitable organizational space for rooms needing vertical storage
  • Great for staging memorabilia without blocking prized pictures already mounted to the wall
  • Offer multipurpose and multifunctional storage solutions
  • Easily conforms to the needs of any room of the house
  • Takes up less floor space with many of the same benefits as traditional bookcases
  • Fits into odd locations to maximize all available storage
  • Can effortlessly coordinate with a variety of decor schemes
  • The clean-lined design provides outstanding freestanding support

6. Round Bookcase

Kids at home? We have got you covered! Go for a round bookcase— with no sharp corners, you don’t have to worry about your kid accidentally bumping into its edges. Moreover, a minimalist round bookshelf when made of solid wood and metal will also make a statement look in your living room. The combination of wood and metal will provide stability and will match the industrial style. Round bookcases can also add a visual softness to the interiors. Here are some of the pros of getting a round bookcase:

5 Shelf Industrial Open Round Bookcase
5 Shelf Industrial Open Round Bookcase
  • Fusion of form and function
  • No sharp edges; no freak accidents
  • Gives you enough room to walk around
  • Easy to access books 
  • Enhances the aesthetic of your living space 
  • Minimalist look
  • Will match with any existing interior design style
  • Can be placed in any room to keep books and curios
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Styles of Bookshelves

A bookcase demands attention and so it’s important that you select the right style and also make your life sorted, be it your home or office.

1. Mid-century Modern Bookcase style

Add a touch of elegant simplicity and timelessness to your home with a mid-century modern bookcase. It will give your home a fuss-free, clean-lined look while giving you plenty of room to arrange your décor items and books. The highlights of a mid-century modern bookcase are:

Mid century modern bookcase
  • Organic shapes to beautify your living space
  • Minimal ornamentation that will seamlessly fit into any home
  • Focus on functionality giving you adequate storage space
  • The timeless design offers your living space to be in trend every time you renovate
  • The simple, pared-down design
  • Comes in a variety of neutral or contrasting colors
  • Warm and inviting look

2. Industrial Bookcase style

Love the look of exposed ductwork and raw materials? Then the industrial style is your go-to style! Industrial, while being fluid enough to fit in with certain rustic and traditional decor schemes, is all about the durable, commercial aesthetic. Elements of this style can include:

  • Metal or iron support posts
  • Solid wood shelves
  • Reclaimed wood or other salvaged materials
  • A unique silhouette that catches the eye
industrial style living room bookcase
Industrial Bookcase

An industrial bookcase can come in more compact sizes for studio floor plans, to large bookcases ready for stowing your necessities in an open shelf bookcase design of  2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 shelves. This style shelf is great for many specifications or desired aesthetics:

  • The open design makes rooms feel larger while providing lots of storage options
  • Improve your organization to showcase your favorite books or art pieces
  • Offer a convenient solution to the problem of stacking
  • Great for the entryway, living room, den, home office, or master suite
  • Fresh touch that acts as its own work of art
  • Brings a unique and statement-making way to divide your open layout into smaller, more purposeful spaces

3. Vintage Bookcase style

If you love the old-world charm and love owning and showcasing vintage decor and accessories, then a vintage-style bookcase would be just perfect for you. Exhibiting quality craftsmanship, a vintage bookcase is versatile and vibrant. Carvings and painted patina make this furniture piece a prized collection to display your paperbacks and not to mention the use of environmentally friendly recycled wood! The use of solid wood boasts the grain pattern along with natural knots and imperfections and invokes gracefulness to give the bookcase an antique look.

Arched vintage bookcase solid wood

The flowing lines and a relaxed color palette make it all the more beautiful and present you with more reasons to opt for one:

  • Offers you the beauty of old times
  • Makes the living space one-of-a-kind
  • Calls for nostalgia
  • Delicate carvings and patina to showcase your love for art and history
  • Creates an aura of subdued elegance
  • Eco-friendly Reclaimed wood furniture shows your love for the environment

4. Rustic Bookcase style

As Marilyn Monroe said, imperfection is beauty, a bookcase with a rugged demeanor, chipped carvings, and unfinished lines will grace your living space with its rustic style. Alternatively, you can also flaunt a bookcase in farmhouse style or cottage style and show your love for simplicity, rugged look, and organic wood patterns. Rough-hewn solid wood or reclaimed wood could be used and paired with metals like iron. Rustic bookcases are a perfect way to infuse a feeling of warmth and coziness into your home. Minimum ornamentation and muted tones also heighten the look and can make the bookcase a conversation piece in the room it is placed. 

Turlock 4 Open Shelf Rustic Reclaimed Wood Standard Bookcase
  • You will get an extremely sturdy piece of furniture
  • Going for a bulky one can provide you with ample storage space
  • You can double it up as a display cabinet
  • Highlights the wood grains for sophisticated simplicity
  • Earthy colors and textures

In conclusion, the bookcase you choose and the features they highlight speak volumes about your personal tastes. They infuse a home with warmth, and character, and also maintain order by providing designated storage and display options. With such decorative power at your fingertips, which bookcase will YOU choose?

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