Bookcases Made Better Are a Great Apartment Design Element

If you think your home library feels overstuffed with your collection of dozens of titles, imagine living in a small space packed floor-to-ceiling with more than 6,000 books!

Such a space does exist, but luckily for the claustrophobic among us it's only an exhibit in London's Victoria and Albert Museum. Part of a show featuring architect-designed small spaces, "Ark" is the creation of Norway's Rintala Eggertsson Architects.

The freestanding wooden tower features a spiral staircase winding up through shelves upon shelves of books, and visitors are encouraged to explore and take a quiet moment with one of the varied titles.

For a more reality-based interpretation, check out this eye-catching staircase that takes the wall-to-wall book theme down a notch, confining it to a single space. The effect is still a major statement, and with practical storage, to boot.

Not ready to commit to such elaborate architectural feats in your own home? Take a look back through the RentedSpaces archives to find some practical ways to incorporate statement shelving into your own home:
Use bookshelves as dividing walls to help define a mixed-use room. Two 7-foot-tall units help turn a single space into a combination office/nursery.

Take a cue from '90s video game hit Tetris with these cool, modular shelves. The endless configuration options mean that you can fit the shelves into oddly narrow or tall spaces.

Don't confine yourself to a traditional bookshelf location -- look high and low in your space to find unusual shelving locations, like over doors or under stairs.

Still not convinced that the whole books-as-decor look is for you? Pack 'em up, ship 'em out, and do your reading digital-style from now on.

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