Do or Don’t: Hide Book Spines

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via My Paradissi

I will come right out and say, I don’t like the styling trick of books facing backward on the shelf. Prioritizing beige over ease of access to books is squarely in the realm of impractical design. I hope it is a trend that dies soon. Now, I’m going to show you bookshelves that embrace books as they are, and bookshelves that use backward or slip-covered books for textured monochrome variance. I want to be totally clear that I love the work of all of the stylists! I chose really admirable images on both sides of the book spine debate.

But look at the top image. So many books. Thick ones! What are they? If they want a book from the top shelf, do they have to stand on a ladder and pull out each book until they find it? Do they listen to the vinyl, or is it decorative? So many questions.

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Waiting on Martha

These bookshelves are in a gorgeous office. I want so badly to touch those chairs that I could be distracted from the urge to turn those books around.

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Love Grows Wild (Liz Fourez) on Glitter Guide

I obsessively scanned the typing on those covered white books and I believe I see canon hits like War and Peace, The Odyssey and Huckleberry Finn. Since the books are labeled, I can get behind the matching white dust jackets. (Although, if I ever read War and Peace, I will definitely leave it resting on my coffee table for a few weeks as a subtle brag.) The backward books I don’t get, because they look antique and all have pretty blue or brown spines; show them off!

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SS Life + Style (Stephanie Sterjovski)

Again, this looks great. Again, I think there is already enough of white accessories and breathing space that I’m curious to see how those books would look if they were allowed to fully show their hot pink and black covers.

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via Domino

Stephanie Sterjovski’s condo is super cozy, neutral and minimalist, so I get why the books should be quiet. You almost can’t see them, but there’s about 27 on that shelf. The white or black ones are showing spine, and the paperbacks are in a short-ish stack, so their spineless orientation seems more approachable than if there was a big row of backward books.

OK, now in the other direction:

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IG @stephgphotography

I noticed most of the bookshelf inspo I’m drawn to has a lot of books, but they are thoughtfully grouped by color for harmony. This one seems boho and busy with all those amazing plants, but there’s nothing overwhelming about it because of the color palette, non-patterned pots, and the white wall backdrop.

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Tumblr
Katerina Pimenidu

In this proper home library, the books appear to be grouped by genre, definitely not by color. I think it works so well with the modern, sleek design around it because it is floor-to-ceiling and in a defined space. There are so many books that the disbursement of color and bumpy ridge-lines end up feeling balanced and even like artwork.

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Lea Jessen on Bolig

This bookshelf has an approachable vibe, so you believe the people who live there really read their books. It’s not trying too hard, but if you look carefully the books are thoughtfully organized and they do play nicely with the gallery wall color palette. Every little detail is repeated in some way for cohesion.

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DecorFix

DecorFix created this image for their how-to on bookshelf styling. I will end here, saying it is possible to have a pulled together or even pared-back bookshelf with readable, accessible book spines. Don’t make your books face the wall. They don’t like it.

What do you think? Do you (or would you) hide your book spines?

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Jenna’s Bookshelf

Jenna Wynne and I have been friends for 23 years. We’re very close, but I’m forever learning something new about her, or remember something wonderful about her. Jenna lives with her husband and their three children in a south Minneapolis craftsman. She agreed to show us around some of her bookshelves. I know you’ll enjoy a glimpse of her sentimental, scientific, and connecting nature.

“As soon as I moved into the house I envisioned this space at the top of the stairs, and right outside our bedroom as being filled with books. Long term, I’d like to create built-in bookshelves here, but with the demands of three kids and two full time jobs between us there just hasn’t been time to tackle that project yet!

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Continue reading “Jenna’s Bookshelf”