Styling bookcases can be tough, but try these easy tips to help you style your bookshelves like a pro!
My kids recently read a Fancy Nancy book that was all about backwards day.
Now we have my four-year-old telling his dad that playing with his friends was “terrible!” – followed by hysterical laughter, of course. And my two year old keeps asking if she can wear her clothes backwards. And my six year old justifies his hanging upside down off his bed while reading…
Commence lots of eye rolling by mom.
The funny thing, though, is that I think adults have a similar fascination. While I’ve received tons of sweet comments (thank you, by the way!) about our new built-in bookcases in our living room, almost everyone has commented in some way on the “backwards” books. Heck, I guess I have to claim responsibility, don’t I? 😉
But I digress… the point today is that styling bookshelves can be hard, and I’m here with a few tips that I think can you style any bookcase. Obviously everyone has different books, different decor, different sized shelves, etc., but these tips should be applicable no matter what you’ve got to work with.
Tips for Styling Bookcases
1. Vary your heights
This is one of those tips that works in just about any space! But a bookshelf definitely needs the variation.
2. Group some similar items
Again, this can apply to more than just bookcases. See the candlesticks on the mantel? For bookcases specifically, though, it can help to group some books by size (don’t overdo it, though).
3. Mix textures
Obviously in this bookcase, the old book pages bring oodles of texture, but notice the shiny metallics, the smooth glass, the burled wood, the woven basket, and the rope handles…
4. Stack vertically and horizontally
Obviously this is a tip for a bookcase that is actually holding books, not just decorative items. 😉
5. Create a few diagonal lines
But not too many! Notice the leaning books and the stacks where the edges stair step. This breaks up the square lines of the visual for a little more organic, relaxed feel.
6. Bring some green
Another one of those tips that applies to every space: add a little touch of life! And if you’re worried about having a black thumb, yes, faux is allowed.
7. Keep the surrounding areas simple
We built these bookcases because we have… wait for it… BOOKS. And they needed somewhere to live. I realize that there are some times when bookcases can be styled with just one or two decorative items and you can call it good, in which case you don’t need to simplify the spaces around it as much. But most bookcases, even if they are styled fairly simply, create a pretty busy visual: rows of books, decorative accents, etc. The bookcase will stand out beautifully (and not feel overwhelming) if you keep the surrounding spaces fairly clear.
8. Add a touch of whimsy
Everything is more fun with a touch of whimsy, right? Bookcases are no exception. My moscow mule mug holding a succulent clipping or my backwards books could both fall into that category here.
9. Get creative with bookends
In this case, I have a cloche sporting wood beads, a concrete and gold planter, and an old basket all acting as bookends… I’ve seen some awesome real bookends, but before you go buy a bunch, remember that anything sturdy will suffice!
10. Go for balance, not symmetry
I realize that there are some people who live for symmetry. If that’s you, embrace it. But I think for most of us, beauty can be achieved asymmetrically (and no, I’m not going to get all philosophical on that one!). However, the eye tends to find balance more pleasing than chaos. So how do you create balance without symmetry? Let me just point out a few examples in this image:
-the greenery in the cloche on the upper right and the greenery in the concrete planter mid left
-the brown basket lower left, the brown wood vase mid right, and the copper cup center near top
-the white space near the center of the bottom and the center of the top
-each shelf has something decorative, but one shelf even has two items
Perhaps the best example of what I mean is the pair of cloches. One is top right and the other sort of bottom left. Not perfectly symmetrical, but balancing each other out.
And that’s it for today. What do you think? Any other favorite shelf styling tips? I’d love to hear them!
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