How to style bookshelves!

When you have finished styling your bookshelves you should be happy with how they look. That is the most important thing about styling your bookshelves.

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You can buy a color grouped collection of modern hardcover books wrapped in jute twine if you want to have a color-coordinated bookshelf with no concern over what books are on your shelf.

I recently had new bookshelves built in a hallway and was sure that I was going to have to buy some things to fill them. I am so glad that I waited, because I ended up not having to buy one thing!

Match your home’s aesthetic

Is your home style farmhouse or coastal? Maybe you are all about mid-century or country French. If I have one rule about styling shelves, it is that they need to match your aesthetic.

For example, this box which simulates French flea market books would be perfect on the shelves of a country French style home.

Personalize your shelves

Select items that mean something to you. Don’t just head out to Home Goods or Hobby Lobby and grab something to fill up a spot on your shelves. On my shelves I have a pair of tiny souvenir wooden shoes that my grandfather brought home from France in World War I. Those are very special and it is nice to have them where I can see them every day.

Empty your shelves –

If your shelves already have things on them, clean them off and start with a blank slate!

Gather all of your items

Gather all of the things you are considering putting on your bookshelves. Then, take another look around your home and see if there is anything else you can add to the collection of items you have already gathered together. Do you have too many items for your shelves? Not enough?

Begin with books

I like to begin with books, but this is a personal choice. I suggest you don’t stuff your shelves full of only books, however, if you love books and have plenty of books to fill your bookshelves, there is no reason not to do so. When arranging the books, you can do so by subject, by color (a very trendy way to display your books) or by size. Consider stacking some of your books horizontally instead of just displaying them upright on the shelves. If you are not completely filling your shelves with only books, distribute the books evenly around the shelves so as not to make one area too heavy. Regarding actual heavy books, do try to put those toward the bottom of your bookshelves and your smaller, lighter books higher on your shelves to not give your shelves a top heavy look.

You can display books horizontally like this above and even add a decorative element like my little anchor on top of the book stack.

Bookends –

Don’t forget bookends that will help your books stay upright and neat and tidy. This unique set of bookends featuring an apple and a pear will add some style to your shelves.

Add the extras –

There are so many things you can add to bookshelves, this list could go on and on. I will touch on some of the most common items and why they are a good fit for bookshelves. A unique or treasured figurine might be just the thing like this curious reader shown below.

Plants –

Adding plants to a bookshelf is a great way to add an organic element to your shelves. If your shelves might be damaged by water or they get no sunlight, consider investing in a good quality artificial plant. Here are a couple of suggestions for you:

This little boxwood would add a pop of green to your shelves.

A faux evergreen plant in a glass terrarium style container might be more your style.

Photographs –

If you have some special photographs this is a great place to display them. I suggest that all of the photographs you display on your shelves are framed in similar frames and that all are either in color OR black and white for symmetry. Don’t go overboard with too many photos.

Art work –

Paintings are a lovely way to add color to your bookshelves. It has even become a trend to hang the artwork from the front of the bookshelves overlapping what is being displayed on the shelves. This adjustable display easel from Pottery Barn would be elegant for displaying art on your shelves.

Clocks –

A unique tabletop clock adds another element to your bookshelf decor. I found this striking clock at Target!

Candles –

Yes, you can display candles on bookshelves, HOWEVER, do not burn real candles on a bookcase where they can burn the shelf above them. Flameless candles, particularly those that come on and go off automatically are a great way to add a little glow to your bookshelves. This lovely flameless candle from Luminara would be a beautiful addition to your shelves.

Vases, urns, figurines and baskets –

A box or a basket like this one below is also a great place to tuck keys or sunglasses.

Allow for negative space –

Don’t overcrowd your bookshelves. Leave some empty space so that your display does not feel overcrowded.

Seasonal additions –

Don’t be afraid to mix in some seasonal decor on your bookshelves. If you have a section of your shelves you can just switch out the decor depending on the season, you showcase your personality.

For Easter, I added one shelf of Peter Rabbit decor, for example.

Infuse your personality…

Do you sail? Consider adding a model sailboat.
Are you an architect? How about adding a small architectural model?
Maybe you are a journalist. A vintage typewriter would be a perfect addition.

Sources for styling your bookshelves:

Flameless candles
A collection of one color of books
Standing clock
Box style basket

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