InteriorsMarch 18, 2020

Book Recommendations & Bookshelf Styling Tips & Sources!

Michael J. Lee– I LOOOOVE this bookshelf/ reading nook. The wallpaper reminded me of old marbled endpapers and  it was the perfect hint of pattern!

BOOKS , BABY! Lets start off with book recommendations- you guys were helpful in recommending your favorite reads for my Florida trip, and are the BEST distraction during stressful times,  and so I’ve gathered the most mentioned with my personal favorites into one “virtual bookshelf”. I starred the ones I have yet to read personally but are in my queue, and numbered ones I have comments on. Many of these are no brainers that you probably have already read, but JUST in case I included some of the blockbuster best-sellers I loved.

Leave your favorites in comments so we gather and ever bigger reading list!


  1. This was one of the best books I’ve read this year – moving, interesting and meaningful.
  2. This is SUCH a fun book, I loved it. It’s a modern day take on Pride & Prejudice.
  3. This books premise sounded totally bizarre and I was really unsure about it- but I ended up loving it!
  4. EVERYONE told me to read this book. I liked it, but didn’t LOVE it. I was however suprised by how insightful and smart Jessica is, and her story had juicy celebrity bits. Also very raw and real.
  5. So many of you recommended this, but I personally disliked it. Didn’t like any of the characters and could not get emotionally invested in the story.
  6. SO GOOD! A great escape, well written “chick lit” that will make a GREAT movie.
  7. Another one that everyone seems to like, but I did not. Hey, each to their own!
  8. Another one that many of you mentioned (as well and Verity shown next to it). The plot and cover sounds/looks questionable, but maybe it’s the fluffy escape we all need right now?
  9. This is an old book but one of the best thrillers Andrew and I have both read. SO long, but SO SO SO good.
  10. I did not like Ng’s first book (too sad and depressing) but loved this one- but not everyone did. However, it’s now a show in Hulu with Reese and Kerry Wahsington and I want to tune in.
  11. Andrew’s recommendation :) He also loved the Bob Iger biography for those interested.
  12. Amy’s book is SO funny if you want something completely escapist and uplifting!

I also gathered some images of spaces we’ve designed that have great bookshelves! Books are so important in a home, and can be a mix of decorative and collections of those you really love.

This space was created as an adult library/den. We painted everything Farrow & Ball Green Smoke to give it a deep, cozy feel and worked in pottery, picture frames and knick knacks into the shelving to break up the books (so important!)

Sarah Winchester

This bookshelf is mirrored on the other side of the window seat, so TONS of shelf space. Again, we mixed in sculptural object and frames to break up the books. Also, change the stacking direction of your books every other shelf for a more interesting collection.

Michael J. Lee

This was a massive library that we had to fill (another mirrored set of shelves on the other side of the fireplace)! Because there were SO many shelves we ran out of the owner’s personal book collection FAST. So we bought boxes and boxes of vintage books in coordinating color bindings from a local secondhand book shop.

Michael J. Lee

We designed this built in in a small city condo to house the TV and all the client’s books and objects.

Michael J. Lee

This was a client who LOOOOOVED to read, as you can see. This one is more jam packed, but we still tried to break it up by varying the direction of the books and inserting some objects/ candles into the mix.

Michael J. Lee

Another client with a great collection of books!!! :) Love how this turned out, even as full as It is! Hanging art on the shelves intself with small sticky hooks helps break up big masses of books/ built ins.

Michael J. Lee

A tightly edited custom built in with a mix of books and objects (and wallpaper on the back- this is a textured woven grasscloth and it makes everything on the shelves feel so much more special!)

Michael J. Lee

An oldie but goodie! I love how this study came out– painting the trim and millwork Farrow & Ball Down Pipe and then using a grasscloth on the walls made this space incredibly cozy!

Michael J. Lee

This space had alcoves on either side of the fireplace so we designed some floating shelves and a cabinet base to use the space more wisely (you can see the whole house HERE).  We used a blue grasscloth on the back wall to give them shelving unties some definition and mixed books, small art works, pottery and pictures to give it a collected but edited feel.

Sarah Winchester

Obviously not everyone has built ins or the budget to do built ins.  They are a FABULOUS value for your money though, and we always advise clients to do them if budget allows as they utilize space so efficiently. But there are so many amazing freestanding options that can look like built ins and also freestanding bookcases (we love to use matching pairs to flank a fireplace or TV/ media unit to create that symmetrical look.  Below are a few great options! And remember, the bookcases with solid backs can be wallpapered, a pretty easy DIY with something simple like a grasscloth!


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