Bookshelf Wealth: The chic interior design trend everyone can try at home


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When I interviewed Ulla Johnston in early 2023, the first thing that struck me when she appeared on our video call, was the curated shelving spanning the entire length of her office wall. It was captivating. 

“Oh my goodness, I built all this before we lived in a time of Zoom, but now it comes in handy,” she laughed, turning round to admire her back-drop. Jam-packed with ceramics, books and objet d’art it provided a fascinating window into the world of the designer, who’s love of art, literature and travel continue to influence her globally-informed collections. 

This was perhaps my first foray into the ‘bookshelf wealth’ trend, which San Diego-based interior designer Kailee Blalock coined on her TikTok account in December 2023; and it has been growing momentum ever since. Her post has so-far received 1.4M views on the channel. 

Muted and curated by Oka
Muted and curated by Oka

As the name suggests, books on bookshelves are nothing new. In fact, there is little more depressing than a bookshelf without the owner’s favourite novels, fashion, travel, and art books. However, this artfully messy reinvention of the traditional shelf is something a little more convoluting. Involving an eclectic collection of art, trailing plants, vases, home scents, and books displayed in a gloriously haphazard manner.

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The White Company recently expanded its curated objet collection with impactful shelf styling in mind. Each piece from the limited edition decor range is unique; and the natural tones of the terracotta, limestone and hand-forged iron complement each other beautifully. 

An artisanal touch from The White Company
An artisanal touch from The White Company

“Spring, I always think, is the perfect time to clean, declutter and reorganise shelves,” The White Company founder, Chrissie Rucker OBE tells us, “Creating small groupings of art, ceramics, textured bowls that form pleasing compositions to add interest on your shelves.”

A well-read bookshelf by Neptune
A well-read bookshelf with a Theo Armchair chair by Neptune

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Like any trend, bookshelf wealth has endured some backlash. They should be curated, rather than cultivated, meaning only things you truly love should go on display. It should look like it has been years in the making: objects collected over time, maybe they’ve been picked up on travels, family heirlooms – or have some personal value. So basically, don’t stage it folks. 

Mylands shaking up the stack© Press Shot – Mylands
Mylands shaking up the stack

And the books should have been well-read, or well-worn, if they are picture books. Think of the bookshelf as the new coffee table for beautiful tomes. When placing them, shake up the stack: placing some vertically, but other horizontally – and put things on top of them and small things in front.

“There is so much more to the purpose of shelving than just storage for your books; it’s a chance to really add character and style to a room by curating a selection of beautiful objects that you’ve collected over the years or books that really talk to your hobbies and interests,” Sue Jones, OKA’s co-founder and creative director, tells us. 

Even if it’s mainly books that you want to display, such as a few beautiful hard-backs or a collection of classic novels, you can still create that ‘shelf wealth’ look by nesting your books between a couple of decorative bookends or try simply stacking a couple and placing a statement pot, jar or vase on top to create a real spotlight on the shelf.”

A perfectly-curated Oka shelf
A perfectly-layered Oka shelf

Fancy adding an extra element of luxe? This trend is best when placed in a maximalist living room – full of soft furnishings, contrasting textiles and plump seating. 


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