Sometimes the most impressive designs are almost accidental. There are some amazing bookcase designs out there, but forget them all for a moment. Instead, consider the beauty of bookshelves populated with your favorite volumes … there is a case to be made, if you will, for simply letting these stand on their own and evolve visually as you fill them up. (Above, Left to Right & Top to Bottom: John Barman, Eric Staudenmaier, Bill Kingston & Lili Abir Regen).

Design to Inspire recently gathered a series of photographs depicting relatively conventional (mostly built-in) bookcase designs of ordinary houses that, individually, might not look all that impressive … but taken together they are a bit like touring a library built over centuries in different styles. Here are some of the best pictures from the bunch, organized by style, material, tone and color. (ILs and Jan Baldwin)

Classic Dark: These images could have been shot almost anytime in the past century (save for a few more recent pieces of furniture) – building floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall bookcases is not new … arguably, it was even more common before the advent of the internet. Cozy or overwhelming? (M2 Interior Design and Simon Watson)

Modern Bright: There is nothing quite so successful but simple for adding color to a bland white interior as a well-placed, large-scale bookcase – the books do your work for you (especially if you do not trust your taste in modern wall art). (Coburn Architecture,?Hus & Hem & Landstr?m Arkitekter)

Natural Wood: where white serves as blank and wood grain established mid-tones and visual orientation, books can add another finer-grained dimension to an otherwise cheap and elemental design like the ones shelved on these basic wooden built-ins. (Thomas Mayer and Jordi Canosa)