Bookshelf Wealth Is Hot, Hot, Hot Right Now

Here’s how to embrace the trend in an authentic way.

Bookshelf Wealth trend on TikTok
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Hot on the heels of “dark academia,” another library-leaning decor trend is materializing for 2024: bookshelf wealth. You may have already heard rumblings of this term on social media, as content creators are embracing the literary look with gusto (the hashtag currently has 1.9M views on TikTok), showcasing their stacks of books on vintage shelves and accenting them with plush velvet couches and cozy throw pillows and blankets.

Now, to adopt this trend one obviously needs to acquire a robust book collection, as it is the star of the show. But the trend encompasses so much more. “Bookshelf wealth is a whole home vibe,” explained Kailee Blalock, a San Diego–based interior designer and co-founder of House of Hive Design Co., in a recent TikTok post. “What separates this from other design styles is that these homes look cozy and lived in. So, obviously, there’s books. But, the difference is, these aren’t display books. These are books that have actually been curated and read.”

In his own TikTok take, interior designer Tommy Huerter said the buzzy fad already has him “rolling his eyes” due to the inauthenticity of some of its adopters. “I’m not against the idea at all of having a curated, styled bookshelf,” he says in his video. “We do this for clients all the time where we bring in [...] books that are new and books that they already have. But, ‘bookshelf wealth’ hinges on the idea of having a collection of things that are authentic and meaningful to you, meaning it’s probably going to take you a long time to acquire these items. So, as a design trend and aesthetic it completely goes against its own ethos, promoting mass consumption to get this look.”

That said, even if you don’t have an overflowing collection of loved and read books, you can still embrace the look in an organic way. “People shouldn't feel pressured to go out and buy a million books that are meaningless to them,” says Huerter in an email to TZR. “If you genuinely want to embrace the bookshelf wealth aesthetic, start small with things you already have, and slowly acquire more pieces over time.” A small shelf or even desk space can serve as a good launchpad to stack your existing library of tomes that speak to your interests (they can even be visual-heavy publications like art or travel books). Build out your collection from there and slowly add furniture and storage pieces as needed. “ You won't have the bookshelf of an academic overnight, but you will end up with something much more meaningful and authentic in the long run," explains Huerter.

Another key piece of the bookshelf wealth puzzle is art. In this case, however, it is not displayed traditionally. “It’s hung in front of bookcases, displayed on the floor, literally overlapping each other, definitely not hung in a straight line, and is fully disregarding the bounds of the wall molding,” explains Blalock to her TikTok followers. In her analysis, she adds that the “bookshelf wealth” home calls for historic elements of the space to be preserved, “whether that means keeping your stained glass windows, embracing traditional wood molding, and of course just keeping the character of the home.”

Also, it’s important to note that, similar to the dark academia aesthetic, the bookshelf wealth look is very much about creating the ambiance of a cozy reading nook. Think luxe couches and knit throw blankets, soft, neutral or earthy color palettes, cool wall art, ceramics, and nick-nacks that reflect your hobbies or interests. In short, the space — like your book collection — should be a reflection of you, and shouldn’t feel overly pristine or cookie-cutter by design. “The mixing of color and patterns is not only accepted but it’s a must,” says Blalock. “There should be pattern in the form of wallpaper. Pattern in color incorporated into stair runners and of course in furniture.”

If you’re ready to embrace the book-inspired decor trend that’s dominating for 2024, shop some items below to get you started.