Bookshelves are a necessary piece of furniture in every book lover’s home, but if not well-styled and organized, they won’t fit the aesthetics of your living space well and can even disrupt the balance there.
So, how to style bookshelves and get perfect results?
Easy! We’ve prepared some nifty tips and tricks interior design specialists use so you can achieve similar results.
So let’s dive into them!
Color-Coordinate Your Books
If you’re a passionate bibliophile that loves to see their tomes organized by topic, date of publishing, etc., the idea of color-coding books might sound totally unacceptable to you.
But just hear us out!
This isn’t a style suited for huge home libraries and exceptionally large bookcases. We agree — finding a book you need and returning it to the exact place you took it from every time would be a pain if you organized your shelves this way.
But grouping your books by colors could do wonders for small and medium-sized shelves (especially if you’re trying to organize books you don’t read often).
By doing this, you’ll boost your bookshelf aesthetic, create a more cohesive look, and make your living space look more alive by giving it a necessary pop of color (especially if you match the color of the book covers to the color scheme of your living room or bedroom).
Tip — Rainbow organizing isn’t the only way to go, so feel free to truly express your creativity here.
Break the Monotony With Miscellaneous Decorative Objects
Books are the essential items and the stars of your bookcase. But, they’re often not as decorative as you might want them to be. This is where bookshelf decor comes into play!
Make your simple bookshelf come to life by decorating it with vases, photos, a chic candle display, etc. These items will make your bookshelf look more fun, chic, and visually appealing.
Just make sure to pick objects that go well together (and with your beloved books), either in style or color.
Paint the Back of Your Bookshelf
One option that not many people consider when styling their bookcases is to actually decorate the shelf itself, not just add decor to it.
For example, you can paint the back of your shelf (or stick some colorful, textured decorative backing to it). Each “cell” could be a different color. This way, you’ll definitely make your shelf stand out and look 100% more impressive.
This is particularly practical if you’re trying to style built–in bookshelves, but you can easily paint your standalone shelf, too, and make it more attractive.
Make a Unique Art Display on Your Shelf
If you’re also an avid art collector, you’ll need a place to display all the breathtaking artwork you’ve come into possession of over the years. And what better place to show off your prized possessions than your living room bookshelf!
Given that your shelves are large enough, you can use them to display a wide variety of objects next to your books — from small sculptures to medium-sized paintings, which you can lean against the shelf’s back.
This is one of the best book storage ideas if you’re after that clean, minimalistic look.
Not everything has to be full to the brim! Make some space between the books and different pieces of decor. Dedicate a couple of upper shelves to books and fill them with your favorite tomes. Then let the bottom area “breathe” by placing only one or two pieces of decor per “cell.”
To truly achieve the breathtaking minimalistic charm, go for monochrome, abstract, or geometric artwork.
One of the most affordable and effective ways to style a bookcase is to use bookends. They come in various shapes and colors, so you’ll easily find the one matching your style.
And they’re incredibly easy to use!
Create a group of books and place a bookend on one side. If you have space, you can put another matching bookend on the other side and create an interesting and effective display. If not, you can just lean the other side of your books against the shelf side (like in the photo).
Declutter Your Shelves
Although you might be tempted to add a plethora of decorative items to your bookshelf, avoid doing this.
To keep your shelves looking clean and polished but also stylish, stick to this general rule — fill a third of your bookshelf with books, another third with accessories, and leave the remaining third empty. This way, your shelf will always look clean and stylish.
Another great way to keep the space clutter-free is to use baskets on your shelves, in which you can keep various miscellaneous without them clashing with your clean aesthetics.
Stack Decorative Items on Top of Your Books
There’s a way to decorate a bookshelf even if there’s seemingly no space left on it for such endeavors. You should think of creating layers and using more of your vertical space.
Not everything has to stand on the shelf itself. You can use books you’ve already read as stands for your decorations. Just stack your books horizontally and place smaller decorative objects on top of them.
Stack Books in Different Directions
Vertical stacking is an unwritten standard for many bookshelves around the world. But, if you want to create more visual interest and make your bookcase more appealing, stack your books horizontally.
By varying vertical and horizontal stacking, you’ll use your space in a more creative way and get much more texture.
You can never go wrong with decorating anything with plants! This includes bookcases. Lush potted plants can give your shelves an organic and natural feel and add some life and color to your living space. They’ll also complement your books nicely.
So, style your bookcases with a beautiful plant display, and you certainly won’t regret it!
Place a tiny succulent on the shelf next to your books if you lack space, or create your own personal Amazon rainforest by putting hanging vines on top of your bookshelf, curtaining the top part of it with lush vegetation. It’s up to you!
Create a Small Eye-Catching Display
Styling a small bookcase is much more difficult (especially if the bookcase is super tiny, like the one in the photo). Creating a cluttered and disorganized space is easy when you lack any room to organize things properly. But styling a tiny shelf is by no means impossible!
Our best advice to style a small bookcase like this is to only keep a few items on there and leave at least some empty space to allow your display to “breathe.” Add just a few books (5–10 at most) and stack them horizontally to use more vertical space. Then, just add one smaller decorative piece, and you’re set.
If you feel like there’s no space for additional decoration, you can always play with colors and get an interesting display.
Choose some of your books with the most attractive covers and display them as you would paintings or framed photos, or color-coordinate them to get a colorful rainbow. The choice is all yours!
And as you can see, decorating and styling a bookshelf the way professionals do it can be very easy if you know what to do. The key is to make the space interesting but not cluttered. So, get yourself some eye-catching bookcase decor and style a bookshelf like a pro!
How do you make a bookshelf look less cluttered?
First of all, you have to take everything off your shelf and decide on what you want to keep and what to discard. If your bookcase looks cluttered, it’s probably because there are too many things there.
Then, you can select a reasonable amount of bookcase decor and play with its placement.
Just remember, one-third of your shelf space should be reserved for your books, another for decoration, and the remaining one should remain empty to achieve that tidy, polished look.
What do you put on the bottom shelf of a bookcase?
Your bottom shelf is a perfect place for bulkier items, such as heavy books, large decorations, etc. On the other hand, your top shelf should be reserved for lighter items.
How do you make a bookshelf look nice?
You can bring your bookshelf to the next level by using a variety of decorative items, such as:
- Various decorative vases
- Framed photos of your nearest and dearest
- Your favorite art pieces
- Candles, etc.
Just make sure the size of the decorative object is right for your shelf and that you don’t go overboard with decorating and make the space too cluttered.
That being said, if you need more advice on how to style bookshelves for perfect results, check out our ideas, tips and tricks above.