Shelves + Bookcase Styling Tips

I’ve slowly been unpacking decor and accessories that I’ve had in boxes so they wouldn’t break or get covered in dust during our renovation. I know it sounds weird but I love unpacking, it’s a new chance to style and organize everything.

Our living room came with built in bookshelves which I love. They make the room feel cozier and they give us an opportunity to display personal items, making our house feel like our home. I’m constantly changing up items on these shelves and unpacking gave me a chance to do it once again.

Living Room Shelves 2 Living Room Shelves

Styling shelves and bookcases isn’t a science, there’s no right or wrong way to do it, and that’s why I love it. You can play with it as much as you want to get the look that works best for you. If you’re struggling with how to style shelves in your own home, I’ve provided a few tips to get you started. Some of these tips are similar to the tips I shared about decorating a fireplace mantel so check out that post for more ideas.

1. Start with books

I always start by displaying the books I want to incorporate, and vary laying them on their side or vertically. I also will take into consideration the colors and vary those as well. If the color of the spine doesn’t jive with my color scheme, I’ll either turn it around, or take off the book jacket if there is one. Once you have the books stacked how you like, you can start adding other accessories.

2. Add large items

Next add your large vases, baskets, bowls, etc. that take up the most space. Be sure to spread them out (ie don’t put two glass items close to each other, they tend to get lost instead of standing out on their own) and include different textures to add interest.

3. Display frames sparingly

Frames tend to take over when styling shelves, so I like to lean them against the wall or the back of the bookcase when possible, or prop smaller ones on a stack of books. I use these sparingly because too many boxy shapes can make shelves look cluttered.

4. Add small accessories

This is when it gets fun, all those trinkets, candles or collectible items you have laying around- add them last. Again, spread them out and vary their height and shapes. Also, consider spray painting them if they don’t go well with the other colors in the room.

5. Look at the big picture

Don’t style one shelf at a time if you’re styling several. Treat all the shelves on the bookcase or wall as one.

6. Play with it

The number one reason I love styling is because it’s so flexible. Play with it until it feels right, add items, take away items, look in other rooms or storage for items that may work well.

What approach do you take when styling shelves? Any tips you’d add to this list?

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