How To Choose A Bookcase – A Home Guide

You’ve been eyeing your bookshelf for a while now, and you think it might be time to buy a new one. But where do you start? How do you know what size or type of bookcase is best for your space? 

There are so many factors that come into play when purchasing a bookshelf—the dimensions of the room, the shape and height requirements, and more.

How to choose a bookcase
This guide will walk you through all those considerations to help make sure that not only is this purchase worth it in the long run but also won’t take up too much physical space in your home.

Before we get into all the specifics of choosing a bookcase, let’s talk about what a standard one looks like. In general, a standard one is between 32 and 84 inches tall. A shallow bookcase would be 12-13 inches deep, while a deeper one is 13-15 inches. A standard width for most bookcases (3 shelf) is around 30-36 inches.

Choosing the right height for your bookshelf depends on how tall you are, but a good general rule of thumb is choosing a height that allows the top shelf to be at your eye line or a bit lower. This will ensure that the top shelves are easiest to reach, although you may have to bend your neck a bit if you want to

2. How much does it weigh?

Wouldn’t you just love to be able to pick up your bookshelf and walk it home? Unfortunately, unless you opt for one of those cheap, flimsy plastic shelves, your bookshelf will be quite heavy. 

Standard bookcases usually weigh between 60 and 100 pounds, so if you plan on moving it at all or want to place it somewhere else later, make sure it’s not too heavy for you to carry.

2 boys reading a book

3. What material should I choose?

Your choice of materials will largely depend on the style of your home and what you want to do with it. Do you want a bookcase that works for all rooms in the house—living room, bedroom, home office—or do you want one that only looks good in the living room? 

Also make sure to consider how much light comes into the room where you’ll be placing your bookshelf. Some materials, like wood and glass, will allow more light to shine through than darker materials like leather or metal – hopefully you not going to choose a heavy-metal bookcase, keep that to the music enthusiasts.

Wood is the most common material for modern bookcases; they come in a variety of styles, different wood types, and finishes. If you want a sleek-looking modern bookshelf, go with wood.

Glass bookcases are also very sleek, modern, and great for letting in lots of light. They can be very costly, however, so make sure you’ve got the budget for one.

Leather bookcases are perfect for the den or living room, depending on whether you want them to be more masculine or feminine looking. Leather is a great material for bookcases because it’s tough and durable, so if you have pets or children, you can rest assured that they won’t ruin your bookcase with roughhousing.

Metal bookcases are sleek-looking and masculine, plus they also stand up to wear and tear. They can be very modern in appearance, adding a bit of gleam to the room if that’s what you want.

4. Difference between bookshelf and bookcase?

Technically, no, there isn’t. These days, however, most people use the term “bookcase” to refer to a tall, standard bookcase. This is the one that fits most books with its adjustable shelves and elegant designs.

Bookshelf is more often used to describe a table-like bookshelf that is usually shorter, narrower, and can either lay flat or stand vertically. They usually don’t fit as many books, and instead of boxes or rows of books, you’ll find more open areas for knick-knacks or pictures.

bookcase made from oak

5. What type of wood is good for a bookshelf?

Many types of wood work well for a bookcase, but some are better than others in terms of durability and style.

Oak is strong, hard, and durable. It’s also rich-looking, so you can get oak bookshelves in a variety of styles, from rustic to modern.

Mahogany is beautiful; it’s hard, strong, and durable like oak, but has a much richer, reddish color.

Maple is a strong and durable wood, although not the most aesthetically pleasing because it’s a lighter, more muted color, and isn’t as shiny. It can be used to make modern-looking bookcases with clean lines.

Pine is a soft wood, although it’s been used for bookshelves for centuries because of its affordability. It requires a lot of upkeep, however, so it’s not the best wood to choose if you don’t like doing a lot of cleaning and maintenance.

6. How to choose a bookcase - 10 Tips

Now that you know some of the basics, here are a few things to look out for when shopping for your new bookshelf. Remember to keep your lifestyle in mind if you want to make sure the bookcase matches how you live.

1. You can decide between open or closed storage. Bookcases with open space allow you to see all your books at once, which is perfect if you have a vast collection of books. Gaps between the shelves also allow more light in, so you can use them for displaying memorabilia and other items.

Closed storage means there is no visual access to the books, so you won’t be able to see them at all. This type can hold more books and is great for hiding clutter.

2. Bookcases with adjustable shelves are perfect if you have different sized books, collectibles, or media equipment. Don’t forget to measure the length, width, and height of your items you want to store on the shelves.

3. Corner bookcases are perfect for small spaces, like hallways or corners. You can easily place books and other items on the shelves without taking up too much space.

4. Bookcases with glass doors are both functional and stylish. The doors allow you to display collectibles or books you want to show off, but they also keep them from getting dusty.

5. Bookcases with drawers are perfect for storing different sized items in a stylish way. You can use them to store books, DVDs, and CD’s, or to hide clutter like remotes or magazines.

big bookcase for home

6. Keep in mind how much space you have in your room and where you want the bookcase to go. It’s pointless to get a huge bookshelf for such a small space, but get a small bookshelf for a large room and it will look lost.

7. Don’t worry about the orientation of the doors on the shelves. They should be facing inward so you can see all your items, but it’s not a big deal if they face outward.

8. If you want bookcases for more than one room, like the living room and bedroom, make sure you measure all the doorways so they’ll fit through. Sometimes rooms are connected through smaller doorways, like the bathroom connecting to the bedroom. Measure everything so you don’t get stuck having to take your bookcase apart.

9. Make sure your bookcase is the proper height for you to place items on it and take them off easily. You don’t want to have to strain your back or bend over to reach the books on the bottom shelf.

10. Check the color and finish of the bookcase before you buy. Make sure it matches the color scheme of your room, and also make sure it goes with your other furniture.

Final thoughts

Choosing the right bookshelf is all about knowing what you need, and matching it to your lifestyle. Make sure you think about how much space you have in your room or house, and make sure the bookcase matches what you want to put inside of it.

Remember this is a long-term investment, so it’s better not to cut corners if you want something that will last.

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