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Bookcase Vs. Bookshelf

    Design Differences

    • Bookcases differ from bookshelves in that the back of the piece of furniture is enclosed. For pieces that are custom-made or that are easy to alter, this can offer an advantage when painting as homeowners can use a two-tone effect, painting the back of the bookcase in a color that complements the color of the shelves and front woodwork. If electrical cords need to pass through the back for lighting, computer peripheral cords or other accessories, assess whether a cutout is available or add one before loading the bookcase with items.

    Design Similarities

    • In most cases, the shelves on both bookcases and bookshelves are adjustable. Both of the furnishings can have shelving made of wood or glass. For sturdiness, bookcases and bookshelves can both be mounted onto a wall.


    • If they are not built in, bookcases can be arranged in a singular row along a wall or can be arranged on the side of other furnishings, such as one or two bookcases on either side of a desk. While they do not have the option of being built-in, bookshelves can have the same arrangement pattern of bookcases.


    • Bookshelves are available in a variety of styles, including leaning or ladder, which are ideal for spaces like dorm rooms or rental units where attaching pieces to the wall is discouraged. Corner bookshelves help free up usable space in a room and make better use for storage that’s often overlooked. The slender height of tower bookshelves break up the height of tall rooms. Next to the traditional open-shelf bookcase is the barrister bookcase, which features a glass door over the front of each shelf.

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