bookshelf Wealth Trend

Bookshelf Wealth: A Trend in Home Decor

Envision a room where walls are lined with shelves filled with colourful books. Welcome to the world of ‘bookshelf wealth,’ a popular trend in interior design. But what lies beneath this trend’s surface?

The “bookshelf wealth” trend that has been gaining popularity on TikTok is an interior decor style that emphasises a rich, lived-in look, focusing on bookshelves filled with books that have been genuinely read and appreciated, rather than just for display.

This trend was defined by San Diego-based interior designer Kailee Blalock in a TikTok video posted in December 2023, which has since garnered over 1.3 million views.

The aesthetic of bookshelf wealth combines cosy, classic furniture, often with a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf as the centerpiece, displaying a vast collection of books. The style is about more than just books; it’s about creating a space that reflects a life well-lived, showcasing personal experiences and interests.

Artwork and other collectibles are also part of the look, often arranged in unconventional ways to give a sense of spontaneity and authenticity. The overall impression is one of a cluttered but tasteful space, filled with objects that have personal meaning and history.

This article explores the intriguing blend of aesthetics and intellect in home decor.

What is Bookshelf Wealth?

Book Shelf

image credit: Poliform

Bookshelf wealth is more than just a design trend; it’s about displaying books as a symbol of sophistication and affluence in home decor. These bookshelves are often filled with rare or antique books, chosen for their looks rather than their content.

Interestingly, the term “bookshelf wealth” has stirred some controversy. It has been critiqued for potentially promoting an aesthetic that might seem inauthentic or superficial, as some argue that it encourages people to cultivate a collection of books and objects for appearance rather than personal significance.

Others have pointed out that the style may reflect a lifestyle more accessible to those from higher-income backgrounds, as it often features homes with built-in shelving, wood floors, and other elements of historical architecture.

The Attraction

Home Office Design

Image credit: House Designer

  • Visual Appeal: Artistically designed books add elegance and colour to any space.
  • Symbol of Knowledge: A well-stocked bookshelf can imply intelligence and taste.
  • Connection to Culture: These shelves pay homage to the importance of literature in society.

The Debate

  • Style vs. Substance: Critics see bookshelf wealth as valuing appearance over genuine reading.
  • Exclusivity: The trend may highlight economic and cultural gaps due to the inaccessibility of rare books.
  • Environmental Impact: The production of decorative books poses sustainability questions.

Trend Navigation

Bespoke Book Shelf

image credit: Pinterest

To responsibly follow this trend:

  • Combine Looks with Learning: Feature books that genuinely interest you.
  • Eco-Friendly Choices: Opt for second-hand books or local bookstores.
  • Diverse Perspectives: Include a variety of books to reflect different experiences.
  • Educational Focus: Rotate books based on what you’re currently learning.

Creating the ‘Bookshelf Wealth’ Style

Beautiful Interior Design

Image credit: House Designer

Achieve a rich, lived-in bookshelf wealth look with these tips:

  • Diverse Collection: Use a mix of books, art, and decor to reflect your experiences.
  • Vintage Charm: Add antique furniture and cosy seating for character.
  • Artistic Display: Arrange art in unique, layered patterns.
  • Reading Comfort: Ensure good lighting and comfortable chairs.
  • Unique Decor: Include items that tell your story, like sculptures or vintage finds.

Exploring Bookshelf Wealth

‘Bookshelf wealth’ adds beauty to your space, but it’s essential to approach it with genuine interest in literature and learning. Your bookshelf can be a reflection of your personal journey through books and culture.


For the discussion about the controversy surrounding the ‘bookshelf wealth’ trend:

Hebert, Olivia. “What is bookshelf wealth? Inside the controversial new design trend.” The Independent, 16 January 2024.

For the definition and popularization of the ‘bookshelf wealth’ trend on TikTok:

Zuvela, Teneal. “Bookshelf Wealth: How To Achieve This TikTok Aesthetic On A Budget.” Elle, 18 January 2024.

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