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Volumes of volumes arranged upright on shelves are one thing in a library, but in your home they can read as monotonous. "Think of a bookshelf as a collage," says L.A. interior designer Leslie Sachs, who advocates positioning tomes vertically as well as in stacks, and sprinkling accessories throughout. Include attractive storage boxes for miscellanea and to corral the clutter that will inevitably accumulate.
—Ensure a good fit. When purchasing a bookcase, make sure your tallest volumes will fit and add several extra horizontal feet—more than you think you will need—to allow for growth and breathing room in the display, says Kosloff.
—Consider proportion. If you want to access your books without a step stool, look for a unit with a top shelf that is no higher than 6 to 6 1/2 feet from the ground. "Play with the heights of adjustable shelves to create a more interesting display," says Kosloff. For example, space one at 12 inches, the next at 8, and so on.
—Create a custom look. Give a plain shelving unit the appearance of a built-in by painting it the same color as the wall and adding crown molding, says Carter.