Whether you have one bookcase or a whole wall full, styling a bookcase so it doesn’t look like library shelves or a hot mess can be challenging. I’ve assembled my top ten bookshelf styling tips so you can easily achieve a designer look. Do this:
10 No-Fail Styling Tips
1. Stack books horizontally as well as vertically on a shelf. Laying books flat creates a platform to hold a small accessory and can also act as a bookend if pushed up against vertical books.
2. For something fun (but maybe time consuming to accomplish), arrange books by color for a rainbow effect or by subject or author for a more practical approach. If you prefer a monochromatic or minimalist style, cover your books in all one color of paper.
3. Mix in accessories for interest – if you use an accent color throughout the shelves, it creates unity within the shelves as well as connecting to the rest of the room. To emphasize depth on the shelves, lean small pieces of art as a backdrop for your shelf vignette.
4. Create balance between the shelves within the bookcase and between the adjoining bookcases – it’s a powerful tool. Balance means that one side of the bookcases is not noticeably visually heavier than the other. Each of the cubicles below is vignetted differently and yet overall the shelves are balanced and interesting without competing for attention. This is achieved by using a limited color palette and the use of lots of white.
5. Leave some empty space for the eye to rest and give breathing room to the accessories and books.
6. If you have the option to vary the heights of the shelves, do so, but keep some continuity, some pattern in the arrangement. Below you can see that the two center bookcases match and the two outer shelf arrangements match which creates interest but isn’t distracting.
7. Hide clutter like magazines, remotes, files, correspondence, games or toys with pretty baskets or boxes. Visual clutter makes shelves look like dust collectors rather than a planned, attractive display.
8. Display a collection on one of the shelves as a focal point. Use accessory props to enhance your collection as described in this post. The clock collection below is attractively spread over several shelves.
9. Consider adding lighting to the shelves to highlight your books or collections. Inexpensive under counter strip lighting or clip-on spots strategically placed will highlight your favorite items.
10. Add color by painting or wallpaper the back of the bookcase to make it stand apart from the wall color. Even a neutral color that’s a tone or two darker or lighter than your wall color can make a subtle difference. Or, go bold with a dynamic wallpaper pattern like below.
If you feel like you could you use even more advice, see these additional articles: 22 Ways to Arrange your Shelves at Real Simple; How to Decorate a Bookshelf at House Beautiful; Tips for Decorating Shelves at HGTV.
Try It, You’ll Like It
If you’re ready to freshen the look of your bookcases or shelves, try any one or more of these guaranteed tips and your shelves will look like a professional styled them! Which one will you do this weekend?