9 best bookcases that display more than just your favourite paperbacks
Showcase your tomes, plants, art and objects with a flexible and functional piece of furniture
Whether you have a veritable library of books to organise or a select few to display artfully among the potted plants and decorative objects, you’ll need a trusty bookcase.
Of course, your choice of shelving unit not only depends on the number of tomes you have but the wall and floor space available, so be sure to measure up.
Many bookcases, particularly the wider style units, are delivered flat packed, so be prepared to roll up your sleeves and break a little sweat.
This is one furniture piece that’s relatively easy to put together, however, so don’t let the at-home assembly put you off.
It’s a bibliophile’s dream to own a home library but a dramatic wall of books will often suffice.
If you’re feeling the weight of your hundreds of paperbacks, consider an extra wide unit, or even a series of column style bookcases that, side by side, span the width of your living space, keeping your tomes together.
Our selection of the best bookcases comprises a variety of shapes and styles to accommodate any collection, including furniture pieces with integrated drawers and pull-out units for handy smaller storage solutions.
We put our edit to the test looking for form and function, top craftsmanship, and that all-important bang for our buck.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Content by Terence Conran groove tall shelves: £595, Content by Terence Conran
We loved the versatility of this tall boxy unit. Books feel securely housed in the open wooden cubes while the corresponding voids keep the piece lightweight in feel. The perfect choice if you’re looking to display your favourite objets d’art alongside those select hardbacks. The bookcase boasts a solid oak frame with oak veneer, and dimensional groove detailing that adds a little bit of texture to the otherwise clean lines. The contrasting angled legs in jet black offer a mid-century twist. Classic Conran in style and functionality.
Pop Up Home Rotterdam bookcase: £635, Made In Design
For fans of modular shelving, this geometric wall unit can be customised with smart pull-out crates in various colours to give you enclosed storage spaces within it. Crafted from warming walnut, the bookcase offers a calming presence and looks just as good peppered with minimal nick-nacks as is does packed with books. It is a sturdy and solid piece yet the open back awards it a pleasing lightness of form – especially against a light coloured wall. It comes delivered flat packed – to save on the environmental impact of transport – so prepare for some hard graft assembly.
House by John Lewis Cuthbert bookcase, grey: £159, John Lewis & Partners
Ladder style bookcases are as popular as ever and can prove ideal storage solutions in smaller spaces. This stylish number in oak veneer and MDF offers four spacious and open shelves in natural wood on a contrasting dark grey tripod frame that gives the illusion of being delicately poised. Easily assembled, it is of course a solid unit that can hold up to 15kg per shelf. Be sure to ornament it with a cascading house plant for the full effect. Sleek, contemporary and surprisingly affordable.
West Elm mid-century bookshelf, acorn: £599, West Elm
Another ladder style shelving unit, but one with a bit more structure, we loved West Elm’s homage to classic mid-century Danish design. It’s so authentic, in fact, that it wouldn’t look out of place paired with granny’s vintage sideboard. The sharp angled bookcase offers four shelving spaces with an open one at the top for added versatility. The bookcase is crafted from responsibly sourced eucalyptus wood with antique bronze finished hardware. Add to that a generous drawer and it’s as practical as it is pretty.
Oak Furnitureland ellipse tall bookcase: £399.99, Oak Furnitureland
From the brand that specialises in stylish furniture pieces made from 100 per cent solid hardwood, you know you’re getting a sturdy unit in this Scandi-inspired bookcase. We loved the double drawers at the bottom with their attractive leaf-shape detailing that cleverly double up as pull handles. Fully enclosed, this shelving unit will easily hold a comprehensive collection of books offering five strong shelves. But you’d be wise to leave some space free to show off the natural patina of the wood.
Cox & Cox Nord oak bookcase: £525, Cox & Cox
If minimalism’s your thing, and all you need is a simple, low sitting unit to display a few hardbacks, this craft-driven piece will make a beautiful addition to your Scandi-inspired living room – with enough wall space above it to hang a well-placed picture. Crafted from MDF with a blonde oak veneer, it offers a calming presence as well as versatile storage in the shape of two large shelf compartments. The body of the bookcase is supported by a beautifully crafted, four-legged frame, and in contrast to the boxy shaping, these are perfectly rounded poles. Pretty pegs indeed.
Homebase Padstow large bookcase, Truffle: £209, Homebase
This classic shaker style unit from Homebase is a space-saver with its extra narrow form – the bookcase protrudes just 25cm from the wall, making it the perfect choice for book lovers with minimal square footage to work with. It’s also a solid and sturdy furniture piece, offering versatile storage with its removable shelves with adjustable heights. The two-tone unit, with its top layer of natural wood, looks more expensive than its modest price tag would have us believe. Crafted from oak, oak veneer, pine and MDF, and painted in a warm and homely “truffle”, this one comes out top for slimline storage.
Habitat Neville bookcase: £350, Habitat
The beauty of this blue-backed bookcase, along with its sleek and simple design, is that the contrasting background offers continuity, no matter what you fill it with. In mixing different shapes and sizes of books, you still have that attractive colour pop at the back that successfully pulls the piece together and offers an interesting depth to the piece against its honey toned oak veneer frame. Sleek and chic, the bookcase is elevated off the floor with delicate but sturdy legs, awarding it a graceful silhouette.
Mogg Metrica bookcase: From £490, Go Modern
If your collection of well-thumbed paperbacks deserves something a little more sculptural, this design-led bookcase focuses not only on the horizontal but on the vertical. Available as either a free-standing unit, or a wall-hung bookcase (with corresponding feet or wall hooks), this cage-like piece can be bought in multiples that match up to fit your wall space. In burnished bronze or titanium, the unit also accommodates six glass shelves for added structure – from humble bookcase to art installation.
Content by Terence Conran’s Groove tall shelves is as much an attractive, design-led display unit as it is a functional bookshelf and we loved it for its versatility. At just under £600 it is an investment piece but one that’ll keep its classic, timeless appeal. House by John Lewis’s ladder-style Cuthbert bookcase offers a chic and contemporary storage solution at a surprisingly affordable price, while West Elm’s mid-century bookshelf is a beautiful yet practical piece, and one for vintage lovers.
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