While many of us are busy in January decluttering our homes and seeking the tidy minimalist look, there’s a new TikTok trend going against the grain. With a swing to maximalism, "Bookshelf Wealth" is gaining firm ground in the world of interiors in 2024 as the latest aesthetic.
But why has bookshelf wealth caused such a stir? After all, even the New York Times is covering the new trend. Here at Tom’s Guide we take a deeper dive into this latest design craze to find out why it’s taken social media by storm.
What is bookshelf wealth?
Bookshelf wealth is nothing new, as book lovers have been subscribing to this look for years. Instead, the recent frenzy is likely down to a backlash against minimalism, and the desire for a cosy and comfortable environment to snuggle up in during winter.
This latest design trend moves away from the minimalist concept of styling a home, placing objects strategically that give an impression of neatness and simplicity. Instead, the theory is about bringing real life into your environment, creating a cosy and relaxed ambience with less order.
Rather than stacking books neatly by height, or ordering the spines in colour sequence, it encourages natural disorder, but without chaos. And while the current vogue is called bookshelf wealth, it's not a private party. Other items can join in the fun. The idea is to create a carefully curated collection of well-loved books and treasured mementos which have been gathered over time. This new design trend is perfect for those who love an eclectic look. So, think of books, artwork, ceramics, photos and trinkets. And a plant or two won’t look out of place.
I’m a fan of the eclectic look. I’ve always gathered items for my home over time, rather than buying everything at once. The end look is eclectic and every item has its own story.
A celebration of life
Bookshelf wealth tells your story. Which books have you read and reread? Have some been passed down to you? Are others full of scribbled notes? What do your books say about your hobbies? Which books have been gifted to you with love?
It represents the items you have collected over time that have strong meaning to you — creating a truly personal and unique home, rather than displaying a collection of objects that look good for design’s sake.
The value of bookshelf wealth
Bookshelf wealth has nothing to do with the economic value of your book collection, so there’s no need to start totting up the worth of your literary hoard. Rather than monetary value, bookshelf wealth is about the intrinsic value of items you’ve collected over time. The memories associated with your mementoes are invaluable.
Bookshelf wealth: How to achieve the look
Embrace the freedom of mixing it up, forget neat rows of color-coordinated, curated books and opt for a mismatch of colored spines. Dismiss order and stack your books vertically and horizontally — when stacked horizontally, they can also act as functional bookends.
You can even create a gallery with your favorite book covers. Select the ones you love and turn them outwards to enjoy the artwork rather than always focusing on the spines.
One book cover I particularly love is Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owen. It also happens to be one of my favorite books I've read and reread — exactly what bookshelf wealth is all about.
Artwork isn’t just for hanging
Artwork doesn’t solely have to be hung on walls in straight lines. Have a shelf dedicated to a mix of different styles of art. And just like your books, mix it up with different shapes and sizes. Go for an eclectic mix of frames with a range of modest to ornate designs.
Prop pictures on the shelving between books, place some in front of books and position larger artwork on the floor. And if you’re worried about your precious art slipping off your shelf, you can always attach a thin wooden batten close to the top edge to prevent any mishaps.
Trinkets and treasures
Small trinkets and treasures are perfect for adding to bookshelves as adornments. Whether placed in front of books or with their own dedicated position, they’ll add character and personality to your display.
Choose items that you love and have special meaning. I’d choose to display ceramics, as I often treat myself to something small on vacation and I've gathered a mini collection. How about sculpture or small family treasures? Items don’t need to have monetary value, but if they do, that’s fine too. Anything goes.
Create a cosy retreat
The surrounding area can also be treated in the same fashion. Make it comfy, cosy and personal. Create a reading nook with a comfy chair and a soft throw to make it extra snug. Position a reading light for ambient lighting while you relax with a good book. Position a low coffee table to stack your books of the moment and to provide a place for a coffee mug or your favorite tipple. Alternatively, opt for a drinks trolley for a throwback to the 1970s retro look that's taking 2024 by storm.
Mix up your fabrics and furnishings to add extra warmth. Layer rugs onto the floor to inject colour and pattern and upcycle worn seating on an old chair to make it useable again.
Embrace the look around your home
It’s time to banish those perfectly placed coffee table books in your living room, which are hardly read, and swap them for a well-thumbed favorite. Scruffy spines and glossy covers are all the rage. Rather than keeping the eclectic look to your bookshelves, embrace this design trend throughout your home.
Enjoy the freedom of expression
The joy of creating the look of bookshelf wealth in your home is that there are no rules. Go with what you like, and what makes you happy, and embrace the freedom of being perfectly imperfect.
It’s possible to achieve the lived-in look without your space becoming overly cluttered, where you’ll always feel comfortable and your guests will want to linger.
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Camilla Sharman has worked in publishing and marketing for over 30 years and has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.
As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader. In her spare time, when she’s not in her kitchen experimenting with a new recipe, you’ll find her keeping fit at the gym. In the pool, stretching at a yoga class, or on a spin bike, exercise is her escape time. She also loves the great outdoors and if she’s not pottering about in her garden, she’ll be jumping on her bike for a gentle cycle ride.