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8 alternative and totally ingenious uses for bookshelves

There are tons of quirky ways to transform the humble bookcase, turning it into a design feature that’s both practical and stylish. Here we share eight shelf-tastic ideas to get you started.
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Who said bookshelves were just for storing books?

True, the title does carry a certain amount of suggestion, but interior design is all about getting creative and breaking the rules. And we’ve recently discovered that bookcases provide the perfect chance to do that, with a wealth of hidden uses that can transform any room into an interior designer’s dream. It’s a fact that most houses lack storage space, which is why it’s great to discover quirky ways to organise all those miscellaneous bits and bobs, while making them part of your décor too. One of the things we love most about the humble bookcase is that it provides a ready-made storage unit that instantly enhances the look of your home. So, without further ado, check out our list of alternative and totally ingenious uses for bookshelves.


1. As a bathroom cabinet

Gone are the days of the tiny, toothpaste-splattered bathroom cabinet that was expected to hold a lifetime’s worth of medical supplies and grooming products. Today, it’s all about displaying your ‘stuff’ proudly and making it – literally – part of the furniture. Take your bathroom from average to amazing with a set of whitewashed bookshelves, on which you can display all manner of things. Think piles of fluffy towels, luxurious bars of soap, candles, flowers and storage baskets for essential oils and pampering potions.

2. As a mini pantry

Pantries needn’t be reserved for old country manors and townhouse mansions. Create a mini version of one in your kitchen with a raw-wood bookcase for a rustic, shabby chic feel. Top shelves with jars, cookbooks and crockery, plus dried pasta and spice racks. Don’t be afraid to show off store cupboard ingredients – if you liberate them from their packets and pop them into heavy glass jars they can become a design feature in themselves. Try stringing fairly lights around the bookcase to really make it stand out as a feature piece in your kitchen.

3. As a mini bar

Why hide your collection of drinks away in a dusty old cabinet when you can add to the atmosphere of your dinner parties and evening soirées with an eye-catching bar. Place a bookcase in your main entertainment space and stack it with a mix of cocktail recipe books and all those differently coloured bottles of your favourite tipples, plus candles and little bowls of after dinner mints if you’re feeling really fancy.


4. As a frame

Create a stunning design feature out of a cubbyhole bookcase by mounting it on a wall and filling each section with photo frames, artwork and anything else you feel will enhance your room. Dig out all those eclectic gifts you didn’t know what to do with – candlesticks, ornaments, framed comic books and funky cactus plants – and make a work of art out of them.

5. As a shoe rack

Get rid of that unsightly pile of shoes in the corner of your room and display them proudly instead. Not only will they look great lined up on a bookcase, you’ll feel infinitely more organised when you’re choosing what to wear. Who knows, you may even rediscover some old classics too.

6. As a linen closet

Add a quirky and stylish finishing touch to your landing with a statement set of bookshelves, filled with neat piles of colourful blankets, pretty cushions and folded fabrics. This is a great way to add warmth and texture to a hallway, and to make the most of pretty items instead of hiding them away in a cupboard.

7. As a media console

Flip a simple stack small bookcase like this one on its side and place your TV on top to create a cool media console in your living room. Fill the shelves with DVDs, books and any game consoles you may have, to put all your entertainment bits in one place. We love this look because it instantly brings a quirky vibe to any space, and can be filled with other decorative trinkets too. Think photo frames, mini lanterns and ornate dishes.

8. As a stationary unit

Love stationery? There’s something aesthetically appealing about stacks of notebooks and pots of pens, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting organised and gathering it all in one place. Using a bookcase as a stationery unit in an office or living room can be a great way to de-clutter other surfaces, while creating a stylish design feature in your home. Who knew that an unassuming set of bookshelves could have so many amazing uses? And with so many different shelving varieties to choose from, the world of interior design is your oyster. We guess we really shouldn’t have judged the bookcase by its cover.


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