Bookshelf Wealth Involves a Lot More Than What's on Your Bookshelf

Sara Belcher - Author

Jan. 18 2024, Published 6:53 p.m. ET

Popular video sharing app TikTok is the origin for a myriad of niche trends and aesthetics, each a little more peculiar than the last. That said, it's also become a wonderful source of inspiration for those trying to find a new way to decorate their home, as there's truly no limit to the design choices shared on the app.

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One of the more niche aesthetics beginning to show up on your For You page is bookshelf wealth. This niche design aesthetic includes much more planning and curating than what you'd do for an average bookshelf, but for those who love the look of a cozy home, this may be the right choice for you. Here's what exactly "bookshelf wealth" means.

The cozy, curated vibe of bookshelf wealth
Source: Getty Images
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Bookshelf wealth is all about that cozy, lived-in feeling.

When it comes to defining what "bookshelf wealth" really is, luxury design studio House of Hive Design Co (@houseofhive on TikTok) puts it best.

"Bookshelf wealth is a whole home vibe. What separates [it] from other design styles is that these homes look cozy and lived in," House of Hive co-founder Kailee Blalock explains in a TikTok. "So obviously there's books. But the difference is that these aren't display books, these are books that have actually been curated and read."

Though some curated homes have books that are purchased solely for the aesthetic, bookshelf wealth is about displaying the books you've personally accumulated and loved. BookTokers are great at nailing this part of the look, as their shelves are often filled with books they've accumulated over their years of achieving Goodreads reading goals.

But even if you're not a huge reader, Kailee explains that the aesthetic is much more than the number of books you have on your shelf.

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"Art is of the upmost importance, but it's 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 moulding," she continues.

What that art looks like is entirely up to you, and this could be where you combine this aesthetic with other design choices you prefer.

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Of course, a home aesthetic is more than just books and artwork — the furniture is also a key feature, and mixing patterns, textures, and colors is essential to create that lived-in feel.

"Bookshelf wealth has a major emphasis on cozy seating areas, especially niches below a window," Kailee said. "The mixing of patterns and colors is not only accepted, but it's a must."

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Not everyone loves the idea of bookshelf wealth.

As is the case with most trends, not everyone is on board with the popularization of "bookshelf wealth."

"I think that we are so quick to, like, name something, whether it's eclectic grandpa or quiet luxury. And the new buzzword is now bookshelf wealth, when wealth is like really time," BookToker Breana (@breana_reads) said in a reply video.

"It's having the time to curate your own space. It's having the time to collect books — books that you're actually going to read, books that interest you. Not just putting a bunch of s--t on a bookshelf and hoping that it looks aesthetic," she continued.

Many of these new design trends often involve shelling out a lot of money (something not everyone has) to make a space look "aesthetic," when sometimes, as Breana points out, the key to making a home feel lived-in is really just to live in it.

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