5 Simple Rules for Styling a Bookshelf

Like a blank canvas, an empty bookshelf can be intimidating. Follow these simple guidelines to achieve a beautifully styled bookshelf, just like the ones you see in magazines.

1. Use more than just books

Yes, technically you’re working with a bookshelf here but, through years of design, its purpose has changed. Bookcases are now meant to display more than your current book collection. Start by sorting through your reads and choosing ones that are visually interesting to you or hold personal significance. Remember that every book you own doesn’t need to be showcased here; leave room for accessories. Consider bringing in something natural such as a piece of coral, a bowl of succulents, flowers, or a pair of geode bookends. Next, incorporate vases, frames, decorative objects, small dishes and trays, and unique bookends. You can even lean framed artwork against the wall to break things up.

2. Vary size and shape

When styling your décor, balance is key; no one wants lopsided shelves. Adding round or cylindrical vases is an easy place to start. If you can find a set of two or three, this will help do some of the work for you, as the issues of height and shape will be addressed. Varying book sizes by placing smaller books on top shelves and larger ones on the bottom will create balance and keep your bookshelf feeling airy and not weighed down. Your natural décor will also help by incorporating organic shape and will provide contrast to the rectangular shape of books.

3. Alternate book direction

A common mistake is thinking that the only way to display your books is by having them stand vertically on a shelf. Back to balance, stacking books horizontally will create a sense of movement. Stack books that are the same size or stack large to small (starting with the largest book on the bottom).  Some prefer to have a designated shelf for horizontally stacked books; separating them from those displayed vertically. It’s up to you—see what you like and have some fun!


4. Follow a color scheme

To keep your bookcase looking cohesive, make sure your décor and book selection are alike in color. Opt for a neutral palette and line your shelves with vintage books, a porcelain vase, and a piece of driftwood. If you prefer a fuller shelf, stack magazines with white bindings. By using white, your shelf will be full but won’t look overwhelming. If you live for color, choose books with colorful, bright bindings. Color-block your shelves by clustering all red books together, all blue books together, etc. Creating a rainbow or ombre affect with your books will make a powerful statement in your home. If you don’t have a colorful collection of books or décor, opt for a DIY and adhere bright, patterned wallpaper to the inside of your bookcase as a backdrop.

5. Less is more

Remember to make room for space when styling your bookshelf. Think of each shelf as having about 3 individual sections and don’t let those sections overlap; let your books breathe. And be sure to treat your shelves as a work of art and keep books centered and stacked neatly. Your decorative vignettes should look clean, crisp and visually appealing. If you’re running out of room, and were really counting on using your bookcase as storage, you still can. Use baskets, bins and nesting boxes to hold papers and extra books. Staying organized is key!

This post was created by Erica.

Related Links:
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Shop Visit: WNY Book Arts Center
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The Best of IKEA

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