How To Style Bookshelves (My step by step guide to styling bookshelves)
I wrote a blog post about shelf styling three years ago. I was young and naive back then. I know I admitted to hating my bookshelves because decorating them caused me such design paralysis.
I now have a new appreciation for my bookshelves and I even added more shelves to my home to add more excitement in my life.
To those reading this post and before you send me a message…yes, I do know that you can just put books on a bookshelf.
However, we have many other bookshelves in our home that are full of books. My husband has a bookshelf in the basement for all of his boring history books (snore) and each kid has a bookshelf in their own room.
As for me, I don’t read. Kidding…I read an ittsy bitty bit when I have the time and it’s usually a home decor book and they double as part of my bookshelf decor.
The bookcases in our living room are pretty much decorative. And I think that’s how things became so complicated for me back in the day. I wanted our bookshelves to be somewhat functional and pretty to look at too. That’s usually a difficult combination.
These shelves went through many different phases since we moved in.
It had the “very minimal/we just moved in so I have no idea what to do with you” phase…
The “I’m going to put whatever I find on sale at Hobby Lobby on you” phase…
And then the “nope, don’t like that either, let’s start over” phase.
And I am about to change them up again….I’m just not mentally ready yet.
My biggest suggestion, as with anything, is to get on Pinterest (or Instagram) and just look for inspiration.
Finding inspiration is key and then analyze what you love from your inspiration. It could be the color scheme, the use of stacks of books with or without color, how they arranged the vases on the shelves, how they grouped the small accessories…you get the idea.
And don’t be fooled…even the real interior designers that know what they are doing need to find inspiration before they start decorating.
What To Put On Bookshelves (Bookshelf Decor Accessories)
(Check out my Amazon storefront and my LTK page where you can find most of my home decor accessories)
Click on either to shop:
Well the obvious answer here is books but a well designed bookshelf can have other accessories and some don’t even have one book on them.
Take it one step further and get books that are pretty. Yes, I suggest you find pretty books. Amazon has a great selection of gently used coffee table books or head to the thrift store.
I love leaning pretty art on the back of my bookshelves. It’s a great way to add some color to your shelves.
These are good for grouping items, having a place for remote controls and larger baskets are great for hiding toys from the kids…kidding. Baskets are every parents best friend.
Vases are great fillers on a shelf. I like to use them to add in some color and height to my shelves
A few years ago, I considered greenery a must for shelf styling but I am not as crazy about it as I used to be. It’s still a great way to add some excitement to your bookshelves though
Small decorative items
This could be anything…small bowls, a giant sea shell, wood beads, etc
How To Decorate Your Bookshelves
(I’ll have everything linked at the bottom of this post)
Sometimes you just need to know where to begin and once you get going it becomes so easy. My first suggestion is to decide on a color scheme. Do you want a colorful styled bookshelf or something with more neutral tones? You decide.
And then go shop your home first. Look for items I mentioned above. The more you can find, the better.
Bookshelves swallow up accessories. If you need to, go out shopping. You don’t have to spend at ton of money and you do not have to do this all at once. It has taken me FIVE years to get these shelves stocked up and I am still adding in pieces.
Step 1: You want to start with a blank slate so clear off your shelves.
Start with your books and your artwork. Depending on how many you have you can lean them and stack them making sure they are evenly distributed. I try to make sure they are at a diagonal from each other, if that makes sense.
Notice how I leaned a book on the back of the bookcase like it’s a piece of art. The sky is the limit
Add in your bowls and trays. Again, try to space them out evenly and make sure they are as diagonal to each other as possible
Add in your vases or large decorative pieces. And at this point it should be pretty easy to find the blank spots that need some height.
Take your decor up a notch and add in some wood beads or small decorative fillers
And you’re done! Just a few steps and somewhat of a simple formula (kind of)
Click on any image to shop this bookcase:
Here are a few more shelves I styled for your shopping pleasure
Click on any image to shop:
Click on any image to shop: