7 Expert Tips For How-To Style A Bookshelf
Easily style your bookshelf like a pro with these 7 no fail tips
I am just a girl standing in front of an empty bookshelf asking it style itself…
& when that doesn’t work I just remember my 7 tips for styling a shelf & take it 1 at a time 😉
When you have a blank space in front of you it can feel kind of overwhelming because there are so many options & ways to do it.
Maybe you know what you want it to look like but don’t really know where to start & how to do it.
This is something that comes up a lot & I always love sharing the new methods & tricks
Because sadly we don’t have a whole team designers & a stock room full of decor to choose from…
But that challenge makes it more fun!
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Here are my 7 Tips to make your bookshelf look expertly styled:
Tip 1: Decide on Plan/Theme/Design
The first thing I do when staring down an empty bookshelf is decide what I want to feel when I look at it.
Do I want a lot of color & pattern?
Do I want mainly family photos?
Maybe I want something neutral to just accentuate the rest of the room.
Or maybe I just wanna use books as the main attraction.
Deciding on what you want it to look like will help you narrow down what items you need.
Tip 2: Shop Your House
After I decide the general direction I want to go in I start scouring the house.
Nothing is off limits & I grab anything & everything I might use.
Get creative with what you grab too, you never know what could work!
These old table legs are one of my favorite features of this styled bookshelf.
I like to have all the items I am considering in front of me when I am styling.
This way I can have an idea of what colors & patterns might work together.
Once I have everything I might use in a pile I group them by category: all the photos together, vases, greenery, etc
It’s much easier to pick out of groupings of similar items, than it is to pick from a cluster of everything.
If you are looking for new items to add to your decor collection, some of my favorites are posted below!
Tip 3: Have a Variety
Unless you are going for a simple styled bookshelf of all books or all glasses it’s good to have a variety of items.
Here she did an amazing job of using only glasses, but still maintaining variety!
Use different textures, colors, sizes & materials of items.
Normally I have a general color pattern that will go with the room & then pick out accent pieces to go with that scheme.
For instance whicker baskets, brass candle holders, black & white photos all flow together nicely.
It’s also good to have filler pieces like antiqued books or candles to mix in.
Tip 4: Start With Large Pieces
Now that you are ready to actually start placing some items, start with the larger pieces first.
If you want a big vase with stems to be used place it first, then move onto the next shelf & decide what will be the feature piece there.
It is so much easier to fill gaps when you already know what the main attraction for that shelf will be.
Tip 5: Create Eye-lines
Eye-lines are basically the way we look at objects.
There are many different ways to go about this but the easiest one for me to follow is a zig zag line.
That means that the item on the top shelf on the left should in some way correlate to the item on the next shelf on the right shelf.
Then that item would correlate to the item on the third shelf in the left side.
The picture will do a better job at describing what I mean 😉
In my bookshelf the photos create a zig zag line of sight to follow.
In this one they used the same concept but with colorful book groupings!
This bookshelf has two zig zag patterns using baskets for one & books for the other!
The items don’t even have to be of the same category, they could be all of a similar color like different objects made of natural wood, or things that all have a deep hue, the possibilities are endless!
Tip 6: Create Dimension While Maintaining Balance
The items on each shelf should vary at least slightly in size, shape, or material while remaining as a whole, balanced.
For instance on our top bookshelf I have a tall vase with stems & also a candle stick that is similarly tall but much thinner.
On this shelf there is also a square wooden photo that is about the same height as the hardcover books but they are on opposite sides of the shelf for a balanced look.
She balanced her bookshelf similarly by styling two items of the same height on opposite sides separated by a bowl that is much smaller & rounder.
Another way to create dimension while maintaining balance is to have some books standing tall while others lay flat.
Same material, but you easily create dimension by making them different sizes.
Tip 7: Crafted Not Cluttered
This tip may not be for everyone because we all have our own personal style & what we like, but I personally prefer & find a simpler styled shelf more appealing.
Clutter can look very warm & eclectic if it’s done correctly, but I feel like that is a very hard line to find.
Plus having a toddler has made me really appreciate the simplified decor life, mainly because he either breaks it or puts it in his mouth 😅
For our shelves I tried to maintain a full look that wasn’t overdone, but instead just enough.
For me that means that not very shelf had to have a piece of decor in the center or that a frame could stand by itself in the corner.
Let the pieces have breathing room & try not to over power them with a bunch of smaller items.
These styled bookcase shelves feel full & neat, without feeling like to much.
She has a good variety of pieces with all different textures & materials.
While these bookshelves have some very cool pieces on them, for my style it’s a little bit too much.
I don’t really know where to look first, though she does have good balance on the majority of shelves.
This look is definitely appealing to a lot of people, just not me, & that’s okay!
We all have different styles & ideas, but if you are going for a full yet uncluttered I have a few general “rules” I like to stick by:
- Don’t stack so many decor pieces in front of other pieces that you have to really look to see what the back piece is
- Stack items on top rather than in front for instance:
She did a great job of elevating items & keeping a variety of decor by using the books to add height.
If the bird sculpture was placed in front of the books instead, that would look a bit cluttered instead of full.
Maybe you want your shelves to be packed, this is the way to do that:
Rachel’s shelves are full, without looking cluttered because she used the same type of decor (books) & stayed within the same color scheme with the other decor.
If you are wanting really full shelves that is my favorite way to do it!
Another option that looks stunning is to fill a shelf full of like items, then put just one large piece on the next shelf & alternate that way.
That’s another way you can create that stuffed look, without also feeling cluttered.
Those are my no fail tips for creating an expertly styled bookshelf, but remember everyone has their own style & their is no wrong way to do it.
If you love it than you did it right!
Let me know what you think & if there are any other shelf styling tips that you have!
In case you are looking for a few new items for your shelf styling, here are some of my favorites:
- Mini Faux Azalea 2. Faux Stems 3. Wooden Tray 4. Round Tray 5. Candle Holders 6. Glass Cloche 7. Taper Candles 8. Paddle Board 9. Taper Candelabra 10. Watercolor Art 11. Gold Round Vase 12. Fabric Storage Box 13. Ceramic Dish 14. Decorative Wood Ball 15. Meadow Framed Art 16. Ceramic Vase 17. Gold Photo Frame