How To Create The Rainbow Bookshelf Of Your Dreams

by Julia Seales

There are many lovely ways to organize a bookshelf, but the rainbow shelf is one of the most aesthetically pleasing. Sure, you may want to arrange your books by genre, or author, or alphabetically by title. I have a system where my favorite books earn a spot on the top shelf. But if you can’t resist a beautiful book with a decorative, colorful spine, you probably have toyed around with arranging your books in a rainbow pattern.

With the rise of the Instagram #shelfie (AKA a picture of your amazing book collection), there have been plenty of gorgeous posts featuring rainbow shelves. Personally, I’m always inspired by these creative pictures, and they make me want to start organizing my shelf right away. So when you also inevitably decide it’s time to reorganize, you’re probably in the same boat: you want to go for that colorful pattern. The question is: how do you start arranging your books to look like the fantastic photos you’ve seen?

It may seem simple, but there’s a method to creating the perfect ombre color effect on your shelf. Here are some easy steps to take so you can create the rainbow bookshelf of your dreams — and then take a million pictures of it.


Take Your Books Off The Shelf

Step one is to take all your books off your shelf and arrange them according to color.

If taking all your books off the shelf is a little overwhelming (because maybe you have a lot of books — like, an insane amount), try starting by just grouping all the red books. Then the orange books. Then the yellow ones... you see where I'm going with this. You'll want to go by book spine color, not by book cover color.


Sort By Shade Within Color Group

Maybe you want an ombre effect, in which case you will want to sort within color groups from dark to light shading (or vice versa). Or maybe you want to mix up the shades, in which case you can arrange the spines in any order within color group. Then add your books back to the shelves, from red all the way to purple.


Take Off Or Add Dust Jackets To Change Color

If you need more of a certain color of book, or you're looking for a specific shade to complete an ombre look, try adding or removing dust jackets to change up book spine color. Places like Juniper Books have beautiful custom jackets that will add a pop of color to your rainbow shelf.


Turn Covers Outward To Show Off Patterns

If you love the color and pattern of a book's cover, don't let it hide on your rainbow shelf — show it off by turning the book and using the cover as a pop of color.


Add Non-Book Items

You can enhance your rainbow shelf by adding plants, candles, and pop figures for an extra dose of color. You should also invest in some unique bookends for a splash of unexpected whimsy.


Illuminate Your Shelf With Fairy Lights

Once you arrange your books on your shelf by color, you can show off the rainbow effect by framing your shelf with fairy lights.


Leave Room On Each Shelf For Future Purchases

This is key: if you buy new books (which you obviously will), you don't want to rearrange your entire rainbow collection. Leave some room on each shelf to accommodate your inevitable new arrivals.