Just because you own more books than a science professor doesn't mean they should take over your home.

Just because you own more books than a science professor doesn't mean they should take over your home.

Also, since books are a commodity to be used you shouldn't hide them where no one will find them because as they say, "A house without books is like a room without windows". That said, books can be a nuisance if left lying around.

But sometimes bookshelves succumb to the weight of books, causing the old books and the shelf something to be hidden.

Why use books as decor features?

Visitors love browsing through your books. They also keep your guests entertained and are a great source of conversation.

In other words, they can be used as great ice breakers.

"People are now covering their favourites and classics in leather and this makes for innovative decoration," says Vicky Bloemfield, an antique shop owner in Greenside.

Bloemfield says bookshelves should have simple lines if you have a more modern home.

Those with more traditional tastes might have ornate bookcases, along with carved hardwood chairs in the room.

"However, the element that's common to any impressive home library is books with interesting covers," she says.


Decor gurus say books should be categorised in some way.

"A selection of recipe books belong in the kitchen, of course," says Maya Malahlela, a decor shop stylist.

"In as much as we have to preserve books, it's important that we also put them to good use.

"There's no point in keeping books hidden, when they were written to be read and enjoyed."

So classics should be within reach of the adults in the home, whereas magazines are perfect for the loo.

"Coffee table books belong on the coffee table, where they are within reach when the coffee arrives."

Malahlela also suggested that a great alternative to a side table for books is to use a stack of old suitcases.


You need to store your books in a place with ample lighting so that people can read them without straining their eyes.

"But never place books in direct sunlight because they will fade and be damaged in no time," warns Bloemfield.

Alternatives to book shelves

l Stack three books on a side table to use as a raised display area. Set a lamp, sculpture or plant on top of the books. This is a great way to raise another accessory that might be too short as well as creating an interesting display.

l For a large book collection, build or purchase enough beautifully coloured shelves to fill one wall of a room, or one side of a wide hallway. You'll get lots of storage.

l Instal a display shelf from the ceiling, or near the top of the doorways. The shelf can run along one wall or even all the way around a room.

Be sure to use strong shelving that won't sag under the weight of the books.

Arrange books and collectibles along the length of the shelf.

l If you are planning built-in seating such as below a window seat, consider using the space underneath the seat for book shelves, either with or without doors.

l Create an instant nook area by a window, fireplace, or even on a blank wall, by flanking the space with floor to ceiling book shelves.

Set a desk, love seat, or comfortable chair in the nook, or use the nook area for built-ins.

l Stack a set of large books on the floor next to a chair, then top with a small piece of glass to use as an end table.

l To manage a large book collection, sort books by category.

Keep cookbooks together in the kitchen, craft books near your crafting area, travel books in the family room, and reference books in the study.

l Though not as accessible as other shelves, the space on top of kitchen cabinets can be used to display a mix of cookbooks and kitchen collectibles.

Arrange items in groupings with plants, baskets and vintage kitchen items for an interesting display.

l Kitchens with a lot of counterspace can often spare a small area to hold cookbooks.

This is best done in an area that is used for a desk or storage so the books won't get stained during food preparation.

l Place stacks of books sideways on shelves so they are horizontal and titles are easily readable.

It's a great idea to alternate vertical with horizontal stacks to make the display look a bit more interesting. -

Additional info from about.com