5 Tips for Styling Bookshelves

Hey there...Do you have bookshelves, either built-in or freestanding that never quite look right?  It can be tough.  That's exactly the problem a sweet client of mine had with her brand new gorgeous built-in bookcases.  She tried a few times to get it right and just wasn't happy with them. They flank her fireplace and are a focal point of the room  . We talked over the phone and set up a time for me to come and see what was up and how I could help.  By the time we left she was a much happier girl and could enjoy those beautiful shelves.  

Honestly, its a different time in design folks with Kindles and iPads. Books may not even be the star of the show.  Or maybe you have a lot of books and need to donate and purge some of the ones you haven't touched in years.  You know the ones I mean...the diet and exercise books from the 80's or 90's, the book about Herbs that has a torn cover and hasn't been cracked open in a decade.  Donate them, especially the ones that really have no personal meaning to you.  Keep the ones you treasure, that speak to a time in your life because, no Kindle or iPad is going to replace that.

So what did I do? And what are my tips?  Read on to find out.

First I emptied everything out of them; placing items I knew I would reuse and setting aside items that could go to another room.  Voila!  Blank canvas. 


1. Start At The Top

I like to start on the top shelf with a statement piece.  Something tall like some artwork or a set of candlesticks, but something you can leave a little space around too so that it doesn't look heavy.

2.  Group Like Objects

Picture frames of family, pets, or trips you've taken are perfect for this.  The frames don't have to match but should be similar in size.  You can group by color for more impact and definitely mix some texture in your frames.  This works with any style of decor.  Tell a story of you, your people and your adventures.

Image Source

Image Source

3.  Place Books Vertically and Horizontally

Your books don't all have to be standing up like good little soldiers.  Mix it up!  When you place some books laying horizontally, they create a bookend and you can place an object on top like a candle or pottery.  Something that tells your passions and interests.  If you have a lot of books, put more of them together on the bottom shelf to create a foundation.

4.  Use greenery 

If you have a green thumb and your shelves get some natural light, green plants will add that extra element.  If you have a slightly black thumb, then faux is the way to go.  There are some really good ones out there and I recommend using the most realistic version you can find.  Add them on a stack of books turned sideways or tucked in a basket.  

5. Add Texture

Texture can be anything from woven or wire baskets, to glass, to even the book covers themselves if you remove the paper cover.  Baskets can be used for storage to hide things like toys, papers or speakers.  Glass or ceramic vases can add color and bounce light around.  Natural wood is another element to bring in to add that depth that make your shelves come alive.


So there you have it friends.  Using these tips, the next time you're heading to Target or TJ Maxx, you'll know exactly what you need to style your shelves like a boss!

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