I’m Jasmine Roth, founder of Built Custom Homes, curator of my online retail store The Shop by Jasmine Roth, and host of HGTV’s hit shows Hidden Potential and HELP! I Wrecked My House. I was also on HGTV’s Season 1 of Rock the Block, but I won’t spoil the winner for you 😉 Building custom homes is my bread and butter and I love finding ways to make homes as personal, functional and beautiful as possible. Whether I’m exploring my TV projects, or sharing secret pro tips for everything from design to entertaining and cooking, I’m here to help you build Your Happy Home. Let’s build something together!



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HGTV Secret Revealed! Why Books Are Always Backwards


backwards books on shelves

Big HGTV secret coming at ya! And maybe it’s something you’ve never even noticed. But have you ever been watching a show on HGTV, and when they cut to the big design reveal, you see that any and all books in the space are turned around backwards?

As styling shelves became even more popular in interior design over the years, the number of times books were shown turned with spines facing inward really ramped up.  So people at home started displaying books this way, and it actually became pretty popular!  But do you know why books are turned around backwards on HGTV shows?!

So what’s the HGTV Secret?

It’s a really simple answer: copyright!  That’s right, this isn’t some breakthrough of a design trick. Although it’s actually kind of a hot button issue with book lovers who aren’t fans of hiding the titles. It’s because the network would have to get copyright clearance from every single title in order to display them.  And that’s not very realistic considering each design could have at least 10 books in them!

Look at me here (below) in Season 1, Episode 8, “Have a Big Kind Heart and Stay Weird” … I’m even holding them backwards!!!  See?! If it has a title, it can’t be shown.

backwards books on shelves

So there you have it!  Tell all your friends about the HGTV secret!  And while we’re talkin’ about books facing backwards, let’s take a walk down memory lane of some of my favorite book styling moments from Hidden Potential

This was such an EPIC bookcase in Season 2, Episode 11, “It’s My Dream Home Now.”  We needed a quite a few books to style all of these shelves, and yep, they’re all turned backwards!  I think while it may not be practical for such a large bookcase if you need to access the books often, the pages facing outward do look nice here on the blue paint color.

backwards books on shelves

That same house also had this cute coffee bar we installed for the homeowners. No spines shown here, either!

backwards books on shelves

Another example above, this one from “Come Sit With Me” in Season 1.

So whether you’re in the “spines facing out is better” or “pages facing out looks cool” camps, bookcases and shelves need to be styled! I’m pretty obsessed with styling shelves – it’s kinda my thing – so here’s some of my favorite finds to help get you started.

Shop Books

Electronics Hider Books (Horizontal) // Electronics Hider Books (Vertical) // Trimmed Book Spines // Modern Decorative Books // Personalized Book Cover Jackets // Custom Book Decor // Paper Mache Book Box // Decorative Book Box (Set of 3)

Shop Pots & Planters

Yellow Lily Planter // Hand Painted Cement Planter // Dipped Pots & Vases // Dotted Planter // Indigo Table Vase // Chevron Pot // Scalloped Planter // Green Ceramic Pot // Hand Carved Planter

Shop Bookshelf Decor

Decorative Bowl // Embossed Ceramic Frame // Gold Terrarium // Woven Votive Holders // Wood & Horn Frame // Clustered Ceramic Set // Wooden Picture Frame // Scalloped Picture Frame


  1. wan norazian wan sulaiman

    i just soooo love ur design jasmine…truly i adore…

    if there is a way for you to design my house in malaysia, i would love to do it…

  2. Lisa Williams

    Thanks for sharing…I knew it had to do with copyright 🙂 I like the idea of DIY books jackets to match your decor. Things like leftover wallpaper or even gift wrap that you can make an easy bookcover from, like when we used paper grocery bags to cover our text books in school. Even that would be cute in farmhouse decor.

  3. Barbara Bullock

    Why would anyone copy the idea of having the spines hidden in their own home? If you have that many books, presumably you read them. How long must it take to turn all the books around to find the one you need?

    I love your shows and congrats on the win on Rock the Block. Your ideas are practical, cost effective and beautiful, thank you. They live in the real world.

    It is nice to know that some of the weird things seen on design shows are not the designers’ ideas but the lawyers ‘requirements.

  4. Clive

    I agree it’s crazy. They fuzzy out the logos on t shirts and family photos, why not the same on the spines of books.
    The whole idea of pages facing out is absolutely ridiculous.

  5. brian

    then how can all the pandemic news reports and interviews from home show the spines? i enjoy seeing what the interviewees and reporters read, and some people carefully choose what to show.

  6. Patricia Post

    I think that’s a questionable reason. What author wouldn’t want their book on display?

    • Kathy Henagan

      I am not a fan of having books turned around for the aesthetics.

      • Yvonne

        I hate this trend. I am a book lover and I want to see my titles and authors on display. I think it is so stupid to face all the spines in and pages out.How would you ever find what book you are looking for?

  7. Beka

    I saw this recently in the limited series ‘Halston’ – possibly the first time it was so noticeable to me. I thought it was a quirk of his, but this makes sense. I can’t think that it is super practical on a day-to-day basis, though it is aesthetically pleasing for photographic work. Fun fact. Thank you.

    • Barbara Rich

      I still think that reason isn’t logical, since such things as names, common words, and titles can’t be copyrighted. Perhaps it’s an overabundance of caution on the network’s part. As does doing it even when the book has been covered with blank paper covers.

      As for “regular folks” doing the same at their own homes it makes no sense. How do they find what they want to read?

  8. Patrick murphy

    Titles cannot be copyrighted a point that is illustrated by the number of commentators and correspondents who appeared on zoom in front of their bookcases with titles exposed. Apparently to the people who adopted this practices yard of books is a yard of books and you don’t need to be able to locate them on the shelves because they don’t read them. Harv atyys too conservative


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