Organizing a bookcase can be fun for that inner librarian or decorator. There are several useful methods for ordering books, but a few alternatives will allow you to experiment with appearance and function.
Method 1 of 3: Organize Books
Step 1. Donate junk books
The easiest thing to do is get rid of certain books before organizing your entire collection. Store in boxes the books that you will never read again or will never read. You can sell or donate them to used book stores, charity shops, libraries, or websites like Book Mooch or Book Scouter.
Step 2. Check the size limitations
Before creating a master plan, make sure you know the limitations. Some bookcases have multi-spaced shelves, which may require keeping paperbacks on one shelf and hardcover books on another. The textbooks or art books on the coffee table may need to be stacked horizontally in order to fit together. Divide your books to accommodate these restrictions and treat each pile as a separate organizing task.
Large, heavy books should be placed on sturdy shelves, usually the lowest. Do not place them above head height
Step 3. Divide them between fiction and reality
Take all the books from their shelves and put them in two piles, one for fiction and one for reality. You generally feel like reading one category or another, so this makes them easy to skim for a spontaneous read.
Step 4. Sort the fiction stack by genre or author
Divide a large and varied collection of fiction by genre, keeping each one on a separate shelf or group of shelves. Within each genre, order the books alphabetically according to the author's last name. If you only have two or three shelves of fiction or most of your fiction books fall within the same genre, sort by the author's last name without dividing them.
Common fiction genres include: mystery, literary, youth, fantasy, and science fiction
Step 5. Sort the reality stack by topic
Divide the books in this pile into separate piles based on subject matter. Get an idea of how many you have in each category. Ideally, have 1 to 3 shelves in each category. It may be necessary to think of broader or shorter topics to achieve this.
- There are many broad topics of reality, including: gardening, cooking, history, biography, biology, and reference books.
- You can order your specialized collection with many subtopics. For example, a history collection can be divided by continent, then country, and then time period.
- If your home has more reality books than your local library, use the Dewey decimal classification system.
Method 2 of 3: Toggle Organizational Systems
Step 1. Sort by size
Consider it if you have books ranging from paperbacks to huge art albums. Arrange the tallest books on the lowest shelf, placing the books smaller and smaller as you work your way up. This creates an organized and uncluttered look. In some bookcases, this is a necessity since you must adapt the organization to the height of each shelf.
Step 2. Arrange the books based on their color
This system sounds great, but it's more useful if you only have one bookcase. For larger collections, colors can make a book difficult to find. These are some classification systems based on the color of the spine of the book:
- One color per shelf (one blue shelf, one green shelf, etc.). If you have a hard time filling a shelf, wrap some of the books in kraft paper.
- A gradual "rainbow" flowing from one color to the next or from the most saturated colors to pastels.
- A pattern that creates a flag or other simple image when the entire bookcase is full. This takes a long time, but it looks impressive.
Step 3. Sort by frequency of use
This is an excellent system if you check your books frequently to research or search for references. Keep the ones you use every day on a shelf at eye level and a couple of shelves lower where you can easily see and reach them. Books that you only use occasionally go on the lower shelves. The books that you hardly ever open go on the shelves above your head.
If you have enough books to fill two or three bookcases, fill the most visible bookcase with the important books. If you have an even larger collection, this system might not be as effective
Step 4. Divide them based on your reading plans
If you have a large number of books that you want to read, why not give them their own shelf? Keep an empty shelf in the same bookcase so that you can easily replace your finished books. You could review your organization once you finish your reading list, but this can be convenient in the meantime.
Step 5. Create a timeline of your life
Fill the top shelf with books you read in your early childhood and continue down adding books in the approximate order that you discovered them. This method is most effective for books with strongly associated memories and for people with deep memories.
Step 6. Reserve a shelf for your favorite books
No matter which system you choose, you have the option of leaving a special shelf. It is usually the most visible. This is where you keep your first editions, signed copies, or the books that have changed your life.
Method 3 of 3: Organize Modern Bookcases
Step 1. Create a dark background (optional)
The bookcase will look more impressive if the background is darker than the surrounding walls and shelves. Consider painting the back of your bookcases to create such a vivid effect.
For open-backed bookcases, hang a cloth between them and the wall
Step 2. Gather the possible decorations
Know what you are going to work with before you start filling the shelves. Vases, fancy tableware, figurines, beads, chandeliers, etc., your home is the limit. Gather more things that you think you will need so that you can try more options.
Vertical linear objects look similar to books. This creates a stark, rigid appearance. Some bowls, baskets, or other round objects make for a friendlier environment
Step 3. Start with the largest objects
Set aside larger decorative items and oversized books, if you have them. Space them across the bookcase, leaving plenty of space between them to create separate focal points. A zigzag pattern works well, placing them on the left end of the first shelf, then the right end of the second, and then the left end of the third.
Step 4. Put the books in different orientations
Make your bookcase stand out for longer by varying the position of your books. Stack the books on top of each other on some shelves and side by side vertically on other shelves.
Try a pyramid of books, with a small bead on top
Step 5. Use small decorations to create a contrast
While placing your books, add a decorative object where it seems necessary. Use colorful objects in contrast to muted colored book covers or vice versa. A pair of tall chandeliers beautifully frame a row of short books.
Step 6. Support the books with heavy objects
Bookends are very useful and come in a variety of decorative shapes. Another option is to use any heavy object to keep your books in place.
Step 7. Leave a lot of empty space
Empty spaces often look better than a clogged shelf with paperbacks and origami. This is especially important for open-backed bookcases in the middle of a room, as they need plenty of space to let in light.
- After removing all the books, dust the empty shelves and the books themselves. For very dusty books, use a small vacuum attachment.
- You can buy blank book covers to hide unsightly book spines.