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TABLE OF CONTENTS | Color Blocked Bookshelves – Fun Way To Organize or Menace to Society?

Color Blocked Bookshelves – Fun Way To Organize or Menace to Society?

I love, love, love the look of color blocked bookshelves. My husband, unfortunately, does not. It’s been a topic of more than a few fights over the course of our relationship. We’re pretty passionate about our bookshelves.

The Big Book Battle

One time, shortly after we first moved in together, I came home to find my carefully arranged, colored blocked books all messed up. Gasp! They weren’t even arranged by size! They looked all mixed together – big and small, red and blue and green and white all side by side in some sort of jumbled book mess that looked like the “holds” shelf at our public library.

How can something so pretty be wrong? Shelf from

“What did you do to my books!?” I asked, horrified.

“I organized them for you!” Mark beamed. He seemed to think he had done something really great. “They’re alphabetical – so now you can find them!”

“Oh, um…. thanks…” They stayed that way until we moved. As we unpacked boxes in our new apartment, Mark suggested we sort them as we go. I agreed, and started sorting by color.

“Aren’t you going to do them alphabetically?” he asked. And that’s when the proverbial poop hit the fan.

Before this argument, I would have never guessed that color blocked bookshelves were such a contentious issue. To me, the visual impact of the big wall of rainbow books far surpasses the practical convenience of having them arranged alphabetically. I mean, geez, it’s my living room, not a reference library!

Since I tend to keep all my books in the room where they’re needed (crafts and coding in the office, kids books in the kids room, fiction and general interest in the living room) I already know which area of the house to find each book in. And once I’m there, it honestly only takes a few minutes to locate the exact title I’m looking for. And of course, no one puts the book BACK each time they’re done with it. You leave it out where you were reading it last, right? When it *is* time to put it back, you just pop it back with the similar colors!

I guess I don’t read as much as I used to, but I only get out a new book a few times a month. So maybe I spend 5 minutes a month looking for books. TOTALLY worth it!

Apartment Therapy on Color Blocked Bookshelves

Color Blocked Bookshelves
Rainbowtized bookshelf from Apartment Therapy

I stumbled upon this article on Apartment Therapy touting the virtues of this sort of visual organization. It argues that “rainbowtizing” book collections is not only plausible, but actually EASIER when kids ar involved. I agree. But I was quite surprised to see how many commenters were put off by the idea. One commenter even insists they are “repulsed” by it!

The way these commenters are bashing them, you’d think a rainbow bookshelf attacked them personally. If you are suffering from outrage fatigue, you may want to avoid the comment section of this article. 😉

How Do You Organize?

I organize my yarn by color, my fabric, pencils and closet by color, so maybe the bookshelf is just the next logical step in my highly visual brain. How do you organize your bookshelves? Do you use the classic alphabetical sort, or the subjective “genre” approach?

Amanda Ilkov
Amanda Ilkov
Articles: 95


  1. I never thought of organizing my books by color!! I do it by author and by size — I want it to be visually pleasing, but seriously never thought of the color of the books! Now I have a new perspective!

    • Now you have another option Tammy! It’s such a beautiful way to display books if you have a large collection.
      All the best,

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