Outward-Facing Book Spines – A New Storage Trend?

Original article first published on Houzz – Victoria Harrison, Houzz Editor

It’s a topic that’s getting homeowners in a spin: should you always display your books with their colourful spines facing outwards or is it ever acceptable to arrange them with the spines facing in? Let’s consider both sides of the story…

The status quo

The most common way to display books at home is, clearly, like this, with their colourful spines facing outwards, allowing for easy identification as well as making a beautiful feature of the bright colours and decorative artwork.

So far so good, but a recent trend of homeowners storing their books with the spines facing towards the wall has ruffled feathers. Don’t know what we mean? Take a look at the next photo…

The disrupter

To some, this is a neat, uniform way to stack books that have either already been read, or are clearly organised in indexed categories, without all the visual noise and stimuli of the coloured spines. For others, however, this arrangement is a total no-no.

Where do you stand on this debate? Here are a few different points of view to consider.

The case for spines:
Book covers are a work of art in themselves
The mix-and-match nature of these books creates a bright, cheerful display when set against the crisp white shelves. In a room with as many books as this, they naturally set much of the tone for the décor in the rest of the space.

This arrangement also, obviously, allows for book identification at speed, as well as allowing visitors to nose through your collection when you’re out of the room. Classics to the front!

Browse a huge range of bookcases in the Houzz Shop

The case for pages:
It’s visually calming
How do you feel about this room with the books turned spines to the wall? While detractors of this trend may well point out the tricky nature of locating a book at speed, there’s no denying there’s something deeply soothing about this snug sleep space, and that has much to do with the soft caramel tones of the books stacked up, pages facing outwards, as it does with the crips white bedding and minimal styling.

Shelves full of colourful book covers would create a very different look and feel in this compact little bedroom.

The case for spines:
It allows for colour-coding
Apart from the obvious reasons for facing books spines outwards, this arrangement also allows for endless creative opportunities. For the neat freak, there’s the chance to sort either by colour, creating a rainbow feature wall, or by height, publisher, topic…

In fact, true bibliophiles will probably admit to rearranging the books on their shelves on a regular basis, as a pleasurable and therapeutic activity.

See 11 creative ways to display your books

The case for pages:
It harks back to leather-bound tomes
Consistency of colour is nothing new. Bound tomes in soft shades of natural leather are a literary classic and many collectors find it soothing to have neatly ordered rows of discreetly bound books lining their shelves

To the organised mind, turning spines away can be seen as a way of tapping into this level of visual conformity, but it does take some planning. You would need to have a foolproof indexing system in place, allowing you to track down the book you need at speed.

You could also use it as a way of keeping track of novels you’ve read (turned to the wall) and those you still have to tackle (facing out).

Where do you stand?

So there you have both sides of this papery debate. Now it’s your turn to weigh in…