Bookshelf staircases are a clever way to incorporate storage in, around and alongside stairs, which helps to save space within small dwellings.
Architects and interior designers also use these two-in-one units to create striking sculptural statements and add distinctive character to a room.
From a renovated east London home to a petite Barcelona apartment, here are 10 examples of residences that use bookshelf staircases to minimise clutter or add eclectic detail.
This is the latest in our lookbooks series, which provides visual inspiration from Dezeen’s archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks showcasing homes with hammocks, white bathrooms and garden studios.
The renovated house was designed in this way to connect its upper and lower ground floors, which were previously subdivided into two separate properties.
“We wanted to create a cross-level multi-functional space, that would feel connected and form part of a larger permeable living space,” architect James Kitson told Dezeen.
Stepped bookshelves become stair bannisters, room dividers and general storage at this renovated house just outside of Paris by architect Andrea Mosca.
On the ground floor, statement pouf-like sofas frame the characterful wooden units that were designed to look like stacked boxes rather than flat shelves.
A mezzanine guest room and storage area are accessed via a petite geometric staircase that doubles as a bookshelf in this Barcelona apartment renovated by architect Eva Cotman.
Every surface was painted white in order to create a blank, airy canvas for the occupants, including the statement staircase as well as exposed brick walls and timber ceiling joists.
“The heart of the house is around the library, which separates the dining room from the built-in closet and, at the same time, joins the kitchen, dining room and the living room,” explained Cotman.
London studio Tamir Addadi Architecture converted a loft in the city’s Muswell Hill area to include steep white stairs that also serve as a cage-style bookshelf.
The structure’s painted wooden panels are interspersed with shelving rails that create individual compartments for books, while the space is illuminated from above by a south-facing skylight.
A Jenga-like workspace was formed from stacked timber beams in this converted barn in West Flanders, Belgium.
As well as a mezzanine office, the chunky structure creates a compact but eye-catching staircase that doubles as bookshelves and plinths for ornamental objects.
“The stacked beams become the library, bookshelves, storage room, and resting and reading area,” said Studio Farris founder Giuseppe Farris.
Canadian firm RSAAW connected the levels of Berkley House in Vancouver with a double-height wooden bookcase formed from rows of light timber boxes attached to a large staircase.
The renovated mid-century house was transformed to include gallery-like details such as white-painted walls, and the studio also added large windows and skylights that brighten the interior space.
French studio Schemaa created cupboards of different heights, concealed by doors measuring the same width as the stair treads, while the light-hued choice of wood gives the interior an airy feel.
Named after its owners, Rosa and John’s Home is a renovated London flat where books can be stored on their sides under a squat staircase that connects the two halves of a split-level living room.
Zminkowska De Boise Architects inserted nooks on either side of the stairs to form more structured spaces for reading or studying. The stairs themselves serve as an informal space to gather.
The boxy units are interrupted only by small staircases that provide staggered routes through the house’s different levels.
Tall bookshelves fold around the oak staircase at Book Tower House, a north London home renovated and extended by Platform 5 Architects.
Designed to house its owner’s extensive collection of books, the project includes a study space on the first floor that is reached via the staircase and cantilevers over the hallway below.
This is the latest in our series of lookbooks providing curated visual inspiration from Dezeen’s image archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks showcasing pink kitchens, timber-clad bathrooms and multi-generational homes.