Love Lucy Mecklenburgh's kitchen library? Here's how to make your own cookbook display

Because your cookbooks deserve so much more than a life at the bottom of a kitchen drawer!

Lucy Mecklenburgh attends Ladies Day at the Newmarket Racecourse July Festival on July 07, 2022 in Newmarket, England.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It may have been a cooking video, but Lucy Mecklenburgh's kitchen library stole the show in her latest Instagram post.

One of those kitchen ideas we never knew we wanted until now, eagle-eyed fans will undoubtedly have noticed the DIY cookbook display behind the TV personality and model as she whipped up a plate of spicy pork rice.

And, yes, we have a feeling it could see DIY cookbook libraries becoming one of those kitchen trends that takes off in a very big way.

Lucy Mecklenburgh's kitchen library

While most of us (this writer included) tend to have an 'out of sight, out of mind' approach to our cookbook collections, Lucy Mecklenburgh's kitchen library – however rustic – has shown us that there's another way.

Check it out:

As you can see from the video, Lucy Mecklenburgh has transformed her windowsill into a bookshelf – which got us wondering: how else can we help our cookbooks shine like the stars they are?

'Cookbooks are absolutely beautiful, and like beautiful things, they should be displayed not hidden away,' says author, books journalist, and editor Sarah Shaffi, whose Instagram is a treasure trove of goodies for bibliophiles everywhere.

And, before you start to worry that this means you need to source pristine cookbooks only for all of your book storage ideas, Sarah reassures us that the opposite is true.

Wood fitted kitchen storage shelf, white kitchen units, marble worktop.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Clive Doyle Photography)

'Cookbooks should probably be a little dog-eared and messy,' she says warmly. 'The books we own tell us something about ourselves or moments in our lives; a train receipt in a paperback, a note from a friend used as a bookmark...' 

'Messy cookbooks do the same,' continues Sarah. 'A tomato sauce stain on the page of a pasta recipe you've made numerous times, a rippled page where you spilled water as you measured, a grease stain from where you dropped a bit of butter trying to follow a cake recipe.'

'Cooking is a sensory experience, and I think cookbooks should recreate this; all the wear and tear on our cookbooks show that they've been loved and used.'

White kitchen units, black floor tiles, large fridge freezer with cookbooks on it

(Image credit: Future PLC/Fiona Walker-Arnott)

If Lucy Mecklenburgh's kitchen library has taught us anything, it's this: that we should make the most of the space we already have, especially if we have a small kitchen.

'Before making your cookbook display, make sure you have enough space to put them vertically, as trying to pull the cookbook you need from the bottom of a horizontal stack is no fun,' says Sarah. 

'And make sure your display is in an accessible place, so that you can get your cookbooks when you need to use them.'

Grey kitchen storage, fitted drawers, wood flooring, cookbooks

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles Photography Ltd)

If you're feeling inspired by Lucy Mecklenburgh's kitchen library, you could try displaying your cookbooks in one of the following ways:

  • In a designated bookcase (best suited to spacious kitchens/open-plan kitchen-living rooms)
  • On an open shelf
  • On top of a fridge or cupboard
  • On your kitchen counter, tucked alongside one of your favourite appliances
  • On a windowsill

If you go for the latter option, Sarah points out that 'books are pretty delicate, and sunlight will definitely damage them over time'. 

While a shaded spot is best, there is a way to make it work if you 'wrap the cover in UV-resistant plastic (like that sticky stuff you might have used on your school backs back in the day),' adds Sarah. 

'Be careful of placing books, too, near sources of heat as well, as glues can melt or pages can warp.'

hite and pale grey fitted kitchen, wood worktops, tiled walls, blue tiled splashback, wood shelves, cookbook display

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you're always on the hunt for seriously clever small kitchen ideas, know this: you can recreate Lucy Mecklenburgh's kitchen library on a much smaller scale.

'Find a space in your kitchen where you can display the cookbook you're currently making the most dishes from,' says Sarah. 

'Again, make sure it's accessible. And, to take up a little less space, use a book chair or a cookbook stand – both of these will keep your book vertical and face out, and when you're using a recipe, they will also help the book stay open to the right page.'

Finally, if you really don't have space for any kind of twist on Lucy Mecklenburgh's kitchen library, there's still one means left to you when it comes to displaying your cookbooks.

'Mine are in a bookshelf near the kitchen,' says Sarah, 'although I'll confess they're not displayed in any sort of order. I occasionally make an effort to match up cuisines, but once I pull out a few books for ideas, they rarely go back in the same place.'

So many options, so little time. We guess we'll need to have a long hard think before deciding which of these to oh-so-literary displays to add to our ever-growing list of small kitchen ideas on a budget...

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.