We love bookshelves. They're one of the most versatile pieces of furniture you can have in your home. Not only can you use them for showcasing your favorite books, but you can also store other prized possessions. In fact, many interior designers use bookcases as a way to show off plants, vases, record players, knick-knacks, you name it.
But as you'll discover once you start shopping for yours, there are a ton of different styles out there. So much so that it can overwhelm you.
This begs the question - what are the different types of bookshelves? And, which of these is best for you? As we’ll explain in more detail later on, there are five main styles currently on the market: large traditional bookcases, modular shelving systems, ladder shelves, corner bookshelves, and floating shelves. Each of these has unique differences in appearance and function.
Your quest to learn all about the different types of bookshelves ends here. In this article, we're going to uncover the main styles of bookshelves you'll find on the market today. We'll break down the unique differences each of these has as well as the pros and cons of each. Then, we'll help you make the right choice no matter what your intended use for the bookshelf is.
At the very end, we'll let you in on a little secret as to where you can find the top bookshelf styles at unbeatable prices. Let's get right into the matter at hand today:
What Are The Different Types Of Bookshelves?
When it comes to bookshelves, there are as many as 15 different styles out there. All this variety can get overwhelming. Rather than bombarding you with all these different options and leaving you more unsure than before, we're going to share the five most common styles you'll find - and our personal favorites. Here's a preview of each:
Now, let's take a deep look at each of these different types of bookshelves. We'll explain what these look like, what they're used for, and what makes them different from the other four styles. We'll start with the traditional bookshelf:
The traditional bookshelf is what you picture when someone says the word "bookshelf." Also referred to as a bookcase, these are the most simple styles you'll come across. If you are wondering what they look like, picture a tall and rectangular wooden fixture with horizontal shelves that are evenly spaced apart.
These tend to be made from wood and are very classic in appearance. Because of this, they mesh well with any type of decor. You can find these bookshelves in different heights and widths as well as different wood finishes. These days, you can also find more unique takes on the traditional bookcase - such as ones that are made entirely out of metal or even acrylic material.
So, what are traditional bookshelves used for? Well, obviously, they're perfect for storing and displaying your favorite books. But because of their simple design, these bookcases can also be used for other purposes.
For example, you could use one to store plants or family photos in your living room. Or, if you work from home, you could use a small bookcase to organize and store all your office supplies. These bookcases are also popular in kids' rooms as a way to store and organize all their toys.
The next type of bookshelf on our list is the modular style. Modular bookshelves get their name from the fact that they are made up of different modules or sections. This makes them different from traditional bookcases which are one solid piece. Modular shelves usually come as a set - meaning you'll have to put them together once they arrive at your home. But don't worry, this process is usually pretty simple and only requires some light assembly with an Allen key or screwdriver.
What do these shelves look like? Well, they vary greatly in terms of appearance because there are so many different ways you can put them together. But, in general, modular shelves are made up of different square or rectangular boxes that fit snugly on top of each other. These boxes usually have one open side where you can store different items. And, because modular shelves are made up of different sections, they're also very easy to customize. You can add or remove different modules depending on your needs at the time.
So, what are these shelves used for? Modular bookshelves are incredibly versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes. Beyond just storing your favorite reads, these serve as storage solutions in other areas of your home - including the kitchen or bathroom. They work great in a home office as well. These are perhaps the most versatile type of bookshelf on our list. However, they can be a bit boring compared to other unique styles - like the next type we’re going to discuss.
The next type of bookshelf on our list is the ladder style. As you can probably guess from the name, these shelves are designed to look like ladders. They have a tall and slender frame with different "rungs" or levels that get progressively wider as they go down.
Ladder shelves are usually made out of wood but can also be found in metal or acrylic material. These days, you can find them in different finishes - such as natural wood, white-washed wood, or even painted in different colors.
So, what are ladder bookshelves used for? Well, because of their tall and slender design, ladder shelves are perfect for tight spaces. In fact, these are one of the best small space design ideas. They're also perfect for storing and displaying items that you want to be seen - such as family photos or different knick-knacks.
These shelves are also popular in kids' rooms as a way to store and organize all their different toys. Or, if you have a home office, you could use a ladder shelf to organize and store all your different work supplies. While these are practical and functional, we actually consider these essential for interior design purposes, too. Check out our article on how to decorate a ladder shelf for inspiration in your own home.
As the name suggests, a corner bookshelf is one that fits snugly into the corner of a room. These are perfect for people who want to make use of every single square inch of their space. Again, these are a great choice for those designing a small interior space who want to make the most out of the room.
Corner shelves come in different shapes and sizes but are usually designed to look like a traditional rectangular bookcase that's been cut in half. This "L" shaped design is perfect for storing items in the corner of a room - which would otherwise go to waste.
So, what are corner bookshelves used for? Their unique shape lends them perfectly to small spaces or tight corners. These can do anything the other bookshelves we’ve covered can do. The difference is that they can do it in a corner more effectively and efficiently!
Finally, we have the floating bookshelf. This is one that appears to "float" on the wall without any visible support. These are great for people who want a sleek and modern look for their homes.
Floating shelves are usually made out of different materials such as wood, metal, or acrylic. And, because they're mounted on the wall, they come in different shapes and sizes. You can find them in different finishes - such as natural wood, white-washed wood, or even painted in different colors.
So, what are floating bookshelves used for? Well, these shelves are perfect for those who want to save floor space in their home. They're also perfect for storing and displaying items that you want to be seen - such as family photos, small plants, prized possessions, and of course, books. Keep in mind though - since these float off the ground, they won't have the same level of support as other shelves. To learn more about this consideration, read our article on how much weight bookshelves can hold.
Which Of These Types Of Bookshelves Is Best For You?
Now that you know what the different types of bookshelves are, which should you choose? To a certain extent, this will come down to personal preference. However, to truly help you make the right pick we've put together some questions you can ask yourself.
First, you need to think about what your intended use for the bookshelf is. Are you just using it for storing books? Or do you want to use it for other things as well? If you're just using it for books, then any of the above styles will work fine. But if you want to use it for other purposes, such as displaying plants or family photos, then you'll want to choose a style that has open shelves. This way, your items won't look cluttered or crammed onto the shelf.
Another factor to consider is the size of your space. If you have a small space, then you'll want to choose a bookshelf that doesn't take up a lot of floor space. Ladder bookshelves and corner bookshelves are both good choices for small spaces - as we discussed above. If you have a big room and want help filling it out, consider a larger traditional bookshelf.
Finally, you need to think about the overall design aesthetic you're going for in your home. Do you want something classic or modern? If you want something classic, then a traditional bookshelf would be a good choice. If you want something modern contemporary then a floating bookshelf or ladder bookshelf would be the right choice.
When in doubt, hire an interior designer - they'll get you set up right the first go around! And if you want our opinion, stick with the ladder shelf. No other style is nearly as versatile and stunning as this one - it works great in any room and for any purpose.
Where Can You Find The Best Bookshelves Online?
If you're looking for the best place to buy bookshelves online, you're no doubt going to be met with an overwhelming selection. This sounds great - we love variety! But, all the options can make it tough to pick your perfect match. Fortunately, we are here to help. Read the best ladder shelf buying guide we put together here at Nathan James. There, you'll find a selection of the best ladder shelves and floating shelves currently on the market - at prices that won't break the bank!
Better yet, these selections are incredibly durable and sure to stand the test of time. And with hassle-free assembly, you can get most of these pieces put together without tools and in 30 minutes or less. What more could you ask for?
Final Thoughts On The Different Types Of Bookshelves
Well, there you have it - we've answered your question, "what are the different types of bookshelves?". You now know all about the five main options:
We've broken down which settings and purposes each is best for so you can make the right choice. Remember - for the most functional and aesthetic bookshelf, stick with ladder shelves or floating shelves. These are a great choice for any room in your home, and fit perfectly into modern and contemporary designs - but they'll work for any style. And, for the best selection online, get your contemporary bookshelf at Nathan James.
There, you'll find an unparalleled selection of affordable, design-first furniture that is easy to set up. Along with bookshelves, we have all your other furniture needs covered - from contemporary accent cabinets to minimalist coffee tables, and much, much more. Shop in confidence with a lifetime warranty and free shipping today.