Bookshelf lighting ideas

Updated November 21, 2016

Figuring out how to light the nooks and crevices of a bookshelf is a daunting task because of the small spaces. Combat lighting difficulties by using small lights, such as rope, LED and recessed lights. Each light casts a moderate glow to highlight areas of the bookshelf and make decorative pieces eye-catching.

Rope Lights

Rope lights are a unique form of lighting because they are similar to a strand of Christmas lights, but they are covered in a hard, plastic, tubular casing. The casing keeps the lights in strand form and diffuses the strength of each light so that the rope emits a solid glow. Lay the rope light along the back bottom of the shelf so that it fits nicely into the angle of the back of the shelf. Placing a series of books on the shelf with the rope lighting will not allow you to see the light but setting decorations on the shelf will enable you to see the light, and it will highlight the shelf's decor.

LED Light Fixtures

Attach LED light fixtures, either freestanding or strips, to the inner space of bookshelves. The benefit of using LED lights is that they direct light in a direction you choose. An LED strips works well for providing an abundance of light. Apply a strip to the sides of a bookshelf nook or overhead in spaces that will house books, and at the lower back crevice for shelves that have decorations, such as picture frames or vases. In this scenario, the LED strip will provide lighting similar to the rope light to enhance shelf decorations. A single LED light fixture is suitable for highlighting a particular area on the shelf and should be placed on the underside of a shelf so it beams onto the shelf below.

Recessed Lights

Recessed lights are installed into the underside of bookshelves so they shine on the shelf below, similar to the single LED light fixture option. The difference between a recessed light and a single LED fixture is that the recessed light fits into the shelf so it is flush with the shelf. Use fluorescent light bulbs in recessed lighting to emit a glow of light instead of a bright beam. Install a series of small recessed lights or one larger one in each bookshelf cove.

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