Tips on how to decorate a bookshelf including the steps to take when decorating your bookshelves and where to find bookshelf decor accessories.
Oh bookshelves, I have a love/hate relationship with you. I love having you, but I hate decorating you. I never thought I would ever say that to you but you have been such a pain in my rear since the day we moved in. You fooled me before then, I couldn’t wait to decorate you…until I had to decorate you.
And to those reading this post, 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), we have another bookshelf in the basement for kids books, and each kid has a bookshelf in their own room. And 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.
So these bookshelves in our family room are pretty much decorative. And I think that’s how things became so complicated. I wanted these shelves 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.
After many different phases and lots of searching on Pinterest, I am pretty content with how my shelves are looking these days. We can all be honest though, these shelves will change a few more times again in the future but I’ll share with you what I have learned so far.
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 big designers that know what they are doing need to find inspiration before they start decorating.
I found a few inspiration pics myself, well, I found alot of inspiration pictures and I took things I liked from each of them and went from there.
First things, first…
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What To Put On Bookshelves (Bookshelf Decor Accessories)
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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. Here’s what I like to add to my shelves.
- Books~Again the obvious choice but take it one step further and get books that are pretty. Yes, I suggest you find pretty books. Take the covers off the books and let the spines show. Try grouping books by the color of the spine. Go to the thrift store and look for more books with pretty spines. Cover the spines of your books with craft paper like I did here. Or turn the books around and show the pages instead. The older the books are, the better for this one
- Baskets/Trays: These are good for grouping items, having a place for remote controls and larger baskets are great for hiding toys from the kids…kidding. But they are good for toys. If you have a few smaller pieces you want on your shelves but you don’t want them placed all willy nilly on your shelves putting them in a pretty basket helps make your shelves look more intentional.
- Vases~Vases are great fillers on a shelf. I like to use them to add in some color and height to my shelves
- Greenery~This is a must! All shelves should have some greenery on them. Ideally real, but fake is allowed. If there is only one rule you take from me rambling in this post it would be to go buy a plant and put it on your bookshelf.
- Small decorative accessories~This could be anything…small bowls, a giant sea shell, wood beads, etc
- Frames/Art~ I consider frames to be another one of those musts but this is just my preference. I chose to add in frames with family photos. It makes my shelves more personal. I also lean them against the back of my bookshelves. This helps draw your eye to the back of your shelves making your shelves look deeper and it also creates a sense of layering.
How To Begin Decorating Your Bookshelves
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 alot of money and you do not have to do this all at once. It has taken me two 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.
Step 2: Start with your books. Depending on how many you have you can lean them and stack them making sure they are evenly distributed. Like I said earlier, I do not have a ton of books so this step was pretty easy for me.
Step 3: Add in your frames/art…again make sure they are evenly distributed
Step 4: The fun and most painful step. Add layers, textures and plants. Why do I call this step painful, you ask? Because one wrong move and you can take your bookshelves from properly decorated to looking like a thrift store. You can add as much or as little as you want just make sure that it’s thought out.
You can see how I made sure the left and right bookcases were evenly decorated and that each individual shelf was evenly decorated. I don’t have two large statement pieces right next to each other. I also suggest taking a picture with your phone and then looking at the picture. It’s amazing what you can see from a picture that the naked eye can’t see. I also have a great friend that loves decorating as well. I send her all my “rough drafts”. Sometimes you also need another two eyes.
Step 5: Take it up a notch. This step is optional and I have some future plans forming. If you want to add an extra layer to your bookshelves, you can add wallpaper to the back of your shelves. A dark colored grasscloth wallpaper in a white bookshelf would look amaze-balls. You can also do something less dramatic and apply shiplap wallpaper to the back of your shelves.
In the end, there are no set in stone rules. I always say, find what you love and you’ll love wherever you put in your home…bookshelves included.
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Tips on how to decorate a bookshelf including the steps to take when decorating your bookshelves and ideas on bookshelf decor accessories.
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