Just bought a new bookshelf and stumped for ideas on how to decorate it? Or you have a bookshelf that you have been trying to style for a couple of months now and it’s still a hot mess. We got you covered! Here we will break down the styling process for you so you can completely blow your friends minds when they find out that it was you who did the styling!
The principles of styling a bookshelf are pretty similar to styling your coffee table except with bookshelves you are styling it vertically whereas with a table you are styling it horizontally. Before you start putting anything on the shelf think about the backs of your bookcase. If the room lacks a point of interest and you feel it needs a pop of color then consider painting the backs of your case.
You might even want to consider wallpapering the back – today you can get 'peel & stick' options that are easy to install. We love Ikea Billy bookcases as the backs come apart and that makes wallpapering easier.
Alrighty then, you have your background sorted and we can start the fun part!
BOOKS ARE YOUR FRIEND
While bookshelves are for books, row upon row of only books on your shelves can look repetitive and uninteresting. The idea is to break up the visual by layering the books in with pretty objects, interesting finds or eclectic collections. But before we get to that step you will need to spread out the books on all your shelves. Have some of them standing vertically with their spines outward, and some horizontally in short stacks.
If you are the kind of person who does not like too much color you can stand them with the spines inward - that will give you a monochromatic look. Some artsy kinds even choose to group them by color going for a rainbow look.
And others like to group them in a single color for that Harvard library look. Consider laying some of the books horizontally in graduating stacks as that will give you the option to position a decorative object on top of them.
ART IS COLOR
Use art to layer the backs of your shelves for that graphic look and to add large expanses of color in certain shelves. Look for art with simple frames that do not fight with the bookshelves and objects. Feel free to place smaller items in front of the art for that layered look.
MIX UP THE SHAPES
With all the books and frames in place you will end up with a lot of lines visually. So breaking them up with sculptural items that have curves like a round vase, bowl or curvy wood carving with bring a softness to your display.
ADD SOME GREENS
Adding some greenery to your shelves will bring that organic feel and today you can some pretty ‘real’ looking faux plants that require no maintenance at all. We prefer to add creeping vines that hang off the shelves or plants with pretty leaves like the crispy wave to the mix. Make sure the pot it comes in is also something pretty and with color. Here is a great way to add a metallic touch by choosing pots in silver or gold color.
LAY ON THE DECORATIVE OBJECTS
Once you have got the larger items in place it is time to have fun with your smaller decor accessories. Use them as bookends or place them over a stack of your books to give it focus. Try spreading them out on your shelves by interspersing them in and around the books and art. If your items are too small in size then try grouping them in odd numbers, or corralling them in a small tray or bowl to give them substance.
SHOW OFF YOUR COLLECTIONS
Collect vintage cameras, show them off here. A wine drinker that collects corks of your favorite wines – toss them in a jar and display them for all to see. Don't forget the rule of odd numbers when grouping them.
STORE IT OUT OF SIGHT
Sometimes we don’t want to display everything as they might be functional and not so pretty and that is where you add a few boxes or baskets on your shelves. Repetition is key and adding a trio of matching boxes on one shelf to store your smaller items is a smart way to hide those receipts or bills. Large baskets on the bottom shelves balance it out and they can used to store extra cushions and throws.
EDIT, EDIT, EDIT
This is where you stand back and look at your shelves as a whole. You might notice that two adjacent shelves are book heavy and you might want to move the books to an alternative shelf. Or you might see that one shelf is too empty and you might want to add a plant or a case there. This is probably where I spend the most amount of time.....editing....stepping back and looking at the whole picture.
And that concludes our lesson on Bookshelf styling. We hope you will attempt to restyle your shelves and share the pics with us via Facebook or Instagram. Let me know if you found this helpful, we welcome any and all feedback.
If you find yourself stuck on a particular shelf give us a shout and we can figure this out together. Enjoy your styling guys!
Dhiraj & Lynda