Home & Style

Ask a Designer: How Can I Display My Books Without a Bookshelf?

Here, we bring your home design questions straight to the experts—interior designers.

Image via Getty Images.

Washingtonian’s “Ask a Designer” series takes readers’ home design questions and conundrums directly to the experts—interior designers. Struggling to find the best kid-friendly rug for your mudroom? Looking for a desk to fill an awkward space? Need exterior paint recs? Send your questions to mmontgomery@washingtonian.com and we’ll get them answered. 

We asked local designer Kate Hougen of Mira Jean Designs for her advice:

“Books are a great way to style a space. Below, a few of my favorite decorating tricks:

“Turn them on their sides: Books don’t have to always be upright on bookshelves. Instead, let them serve as a stand for other decorative objects.

Photo by Jenn Verrier Photography for Mira Jean Designs.

“Stack them by size: Go from largest on the bottom to the smallest on top to add visual interest to a mantle or tabletop

Photo by Peggy Cormary Photography for Mira Jean Designs.

“Create a bookshelf: You don’t have to have a bookcase to display your books. A couple of decorative bookends can create a pop-up bookshelf display anywhere you’d like, even on a bedroom dresser. 

Photo by Peggy Cormary Photography for Mira Jean Designs.
Photo by Peggy Cormary Photography for Mira Jean Designs.

“One of my favorite bookshelves for displaying books is from Design Within Reach. It’s dynamic, too: You can rotate each shelf, and it comes in multiple colors. (My favorite is pineapple.)

Image via Design Within Reach.

“Last but not least, I also love these Tee Books shelves if you are looking for a way to create book storage without taking up much space. (One note: The shelves are not very deep—just shy of six inches—so think small paperbacks, hardbacks, and kids’ books.)”

This response has been edited and condensed.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.