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How to Decorate a Bookshelf

June 24, 2021

How to Decorate a Bookshelf

So you've picked out the perfect bookshelf for your space. Whether it's taking up a whole wall in your living room or a nook shelf beneath a staircase, bookshelves are a chance to showcase your style. 

Bookshelves came from humble beginnings, whilst primarily used to store our favourite reads, bookshelves are now something you have to coordinate with the rest of your space seriously. 

To guide you on your bookshelf design journey, we've correlated some of our favourite ideas for how to decorate a bookshelf. 

How to organise books on a bookshelf?

First things first, remember the primary function of your bookshelf? Hint- it's in the name. The first step of decorating a bookshelf is arranging your reads in the best way. 

Separate your books into hardcovers and paperbacks for a streamlined look. If you a visual person, arrange your books into colour groups and align accordingly. Rather than just stacking books in one row, create stacks with the back cover facing down to form clusters of books stacked in different ways. We love the look this creates, and it's handy when reading the titles so you're head isn't always on a slant.

Does the mismatch of colours bother you? Try arranging your books with the spine facing to the back of the shelf and the pages facing outward for a super clean look. 

What can I put on my bookshelf besides books? 

Bookshelves are a chance to let your personality shine through in an aesthetically pleasing way. Our favourite things to put on our shelves are all the knick-knacks from around the world we've collected, as it reminds us of all the places other than home where memories were made. Get out those tasteful souvenirs but keep that "I LOVE NYC" hat in the draw. 

Stuck for inspiration? What to put on your bookshelf other than books:

  • Plants
  • Baskets
  • Bowls 
  • Candles 
  • Jars
  • Photo frames 
  • Artwork
  • Sculptures
  • Antiques
  • Decorative boxes

A couple of other things we love to put on bookshelves besides books are your favourite objects that tell us more about you. As long as they are in good condition and displayed well, a fabulous pair of shoes, vintage camera, handbag or jewellery will let your guest know a bit more about you. 

How do I decorate my bookshelf based on its size?

The great thing about styling bookshelves is the versatility. You will be working with different size shelves to the next person, but you can make a huge impact even with the smallest of shelves. 

When it comes to decorating shelving, it's all about scale. The objects you choose to fill the space should find the balance of making it look abundant but not cluttered. No matter how small a shelf, you can find size appropriate knick-knacks to make it reflect you.

Are you working with a really small space?

Painting the inside of a shelf or using wallpaper and leaving it minimal is an easy way to make an impact and tie it into the rest of your space. 

If you're trying to decorate a large bookshelf, don't be tempted to fill it to the brim. Create cluster stacks of books next to your accessories. Lean one end of the stack against the shelf and counterbalance it with a statement bookend or an accessory to prop it up.

A large bookshelf can also be perfect for storage. There are plenty of shelving storage options that are pleasing to the eye and don't scream, "I'm hiding junk in here!" Find storage boxes that complement the rest of the space and scatter them along your shelves which are furthest from the eyeline.  

How do I create a display that does not look cluttered?

Once you start getting all your decorative pieces, it can be easy to go overboard with accessories. Try to remember less is more, and an uncluttered bookshelf is more opulent than a messy one. 

Balance is key here, and whilst it will depend on what you're working with, making sure you pair your objects around size and shape to complement each other. It will take a lot of rearranging, stepping back and scratching your head but styling a bookshelf to reflect your personal style is oh so satisfying. 

If you're looking for some shelves to store your books and knick-knacks, take a look at our storage solutions. For more ideas, take a look at how we arrange our favourite items in the store. We'd love to help! 

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