Whether you’re feeling the weight of hundreds of well-thumbed paperbacks, or you’re keen to display your best-loved design books among the house plants and decorative objects, there’s a bookcase to suit your needs.
Of course, your choice of shelving unit not only depends upon the number of tomes you have but your available floor and wall space.
Thanks to their fully assembled dimensions, most bookcases – even the high-end ones – arrive flat-packed so do be prepared to roll your sleeves up. However, this is a relatively easy furniture piece to put together so don’t let that put you off.
If you’re a bibliophile with an ever growing collection, 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. You’ll also up your Zoom room game with an expansive book wall to admire.
Our selection of the best bookcases comprises a variety of shapes and styles to accommodate home libraries big and small. 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.
Mack + Milo arlo bookcase
Mack + Milo’s offering is full of Scandi charm with a nod to mid-century modern design. It is a functional bookcase with six generous and adjustable shelving spaces as well as a solid back, which holds books securely if the unit isn’t precisely flush to the wall. We loved the contrast between the unit’s white interior and its pale blond wood exterior, which gives the illusion of more space. We’re given 40cm of extra floor space, too, as the Arlo is elevated with elegant angled legs. Stylish and practical.
Buy now £364.99, Wayfair
Made Anderson narrow shelving unit, mango wood and brass
This is a sturdy and functional bookcase with a brick-like pattern of open and enclosed storage spaces – and it manages to be utterly glamorous in the process. It’s crafted from a rich mango wood that has a natural golden shimmer in its grain. This catches the light and beautifully complements the unit’s brass insets. How much of the shiny metallics you want on show depends entirely on how you intend to fill the piece up: this one looks great with the odd house plant and objects breaking up the book spines.
Buy now £549.00, Made
John Lewis & Partners calia bookshelf, oak
Ladder style bookshelves are as popular as ever – but they’re not all created equally. By its very nature, this is a design that’s made to look casually propped against the wall. Holding a good weight of books and decorative objects, you’ll want to ensure it’s a sturdy furniture piece that belies its laid-back look. The calia, with its industrial welded iron frame and its solid American oak shelves, is as sturdy as they come. Increasing in both size and maximum capacity from top to base, the shelves offer a versatility that allows us to get creative with our display.
Buy now £499.00, John Lewis & Partners
Loaf tickety shelves
This is an architectural bookcase that features the fluid look of a modular shelving unit with its backless design and asymmetrical storage spaces – but it does come in one piece. What we loved most about this one was its surprising contrast between hard-edged industrial materials and a light and airy form. The “tickety” comprises a hand-welded metal frame with an aged gunmetal finish, and rustic shelves crafted from solid reclaimed fir, awarding it points on sustainability. Integrated metal bookends will hold your tomes firmly in place.
Buy now £695.00, Loaf
Oak Furnitureland parquet small bookcase
Sometimes all you need is a shorty when it comes to book storage. This small but mighty number is from the brand that specialises in stylish furniture pieces made from 100 per cent solid hardwood. Mixing open and enclosed storage space, the warm oak unit offers a homely, traditional feel with a mid-century edge. We loved the arresting parquet patterning on the front of the drawer, alongside the chunky wood pull handles and the tapered, angled legs. Thanks to its diminutive stature, this one offers a handy surface on top, too.
Buy now £399.99, Oak Furnitureland
Zipcode design Cyril corner bookcase
A sculptural space saver, the Cyril, despite its slender silhouette, holds a good number of books. This is thanks to its dual-faceted design, which allows you to create an attractive display that looks great at every angle – play around with vertical and horizontal books for added interest. Ideal for smaller spaces, it sits snugly in the corner of the room but it is no wallflower. The unit, which comes flat packed, is made from a decent manufactured wood and is available in a small range of neutrals alongside a bright burgundy if you want to add a colour pop to your corner.
Buy now £85.99, Wayfair
Cotswold Co. Chester dove grey tall slim bookcase
This is another space saver of a bookcase, thanks to its slimline design. Yet at 180cm in height, it’s both imposing and offers plenty of storage with five adjustable shelves creating six generous spaces for books and ornaments. Painted in a tasteful light grey with the shelves and top in contrasting natural waxed oak, it is one elegant furniture piece. We found it suits living rooms, bedrooms and even kitchen spaces (the perfect home for our growing collection of cookbooks). Expect high craftsmanship from this company.
Buy now £275.00, Cotswold
Habitat Jessie bookcase, oak
Another ladder style bookcase, only this time offering a sleek and stylish mid-century aesthetic, the wooden Jessie is finished in pale oak veneers and offers extra storage space by way of a nifty cupboard. We loved the tray-like shelves, which kept our books, bits and bobs in place, while the cupboard comes in handy for tidying away those things we don’t want on show. Due to its slender design – and of course its height – this one needs to be firmly attached to the wall.
Buy now £195.00, Argos
Noa & Nani Haas six shelf bookcase in natural pine
Our most affordable pick comes from this family-focussed interiors brand whose furniture offering is always thoughtfully designed, simple and stylish. And the backless Haas bookshelf in natural pine is no exception. The piece offers six generous shelves, including an open one at the top, which is ideal for trailing house plants. Thanks to its fuss-free design and its pale blond hue, the bookcase feels wonderfully light and airy. One for kids’ rooms and grown-up spaces alike.
Buy now £49.00, Noa & Nani
The Dormy House bruton library wall
If a sprawling book wall is the dream, you don’t have to employ a carpenter to get the classic look. Offering both functional cupboard space and stylish modular shelving is this seriously impressive furniture piece from The Dormy House. It’s made from MDF and is available in a range of nature inspired paint finishes including rain cloud, smoked shale and pure breeze. It’s also customisable with a 26-strong menu of cupboard door handles to choose from, pulling the look in either contemporary or traditional directions. We loved the versatility of this piece. And unlike a bespoke fitted library, we can take it with us when we move.
Buy now £2520.00, The Dormy House
The verdict: Bookcases
Mack + Milo’s Arlo bookcase won us over for its sleek design, its top quality craftsmanship and its pleasing contrast in painted and natural materials. It offers plenty of book storage with a secure back but, elevated with mid-century-inspired angled feet, it’s as handsome as it is functional. We also loved Loaf’s tickety unit for its cool, industrial design alongside its eco-credentials.
Get ahead of the curve and browse the Pinterest 2021 interiors trends, from Japandi to shelfies