Tag Archives: how to style a bookshelf


As they say, no two bookcases are created equal. Haven’t we all seen a bookcase that has seen, hmm, how do I say it, better days? That looks thrown together, a sort of “catch all” of sorts. No shocker there. Certainly styling a bookcase is an art unto itself. It just isn’t going to look very chic and visually appealing if you simply just add things to the shelves without putting much thought into it. A showstopping bookcase does in fact take a little bit of planning but with my list of styling tips, it will be a breeze. First off, let’s take a peek at some bookshelves that definitely got it right…

This earns an A+ in my opinion. Not cluttered, organized. A great mix of books and decorative objects. A whimsical collection of colored nail polish and the monogrammed candle tells me a little something about the person who is living there.

Love the big letter A that is on display, adds a personal touch. Something tells me that bowl on the bottom shelf was brought back from an exotic trip somewhere.

This tells me this person is a huge book lover. I am a major fan of hanging artwork off of the molding of a bookcase. So chic! I love the layering effect it gives.

This styling tells me that the owner has a great sense of design and humor! I am lovin’ the “Everything is Sh*T, Except you, love” framed print. LOL!


Your bookshelf certainly should say something about who you are, your interests, hobbies and travels. Kinda like what the kind of car you drive does.  I personally always love peeking at what books are on display on someone’s bookshelves. Do they love fashion, art, the classics, or maybe all of the those things? Have they traveled somewhere exotic that is likely on my bucket list and brought a fab special something back to display?

I soo love the bold contrasting color that the back of the shelves were painted. Oh and make note of the fact that even laying books flat can work especially if you have a nice decorative object placed top. This bookcase looks custom but something tells me it is could in fact be store bought. My point being that painting the back of the shelves gives it an instant update and makes your bookcase look like a custom piece even if it isn’t.

This is beautiful yet minimally styled. The simple placement of a few objects really allows that fantastic zebra wallpaper to take center stage.

Refined elegance. I am loving the fact that a piece of art is actually hung on the wall inside of the bookcase shelves. Fantastic! Might be stealin’ that idea. Could this bookshelf be any more fabulous?

Although all of these bookshelves are unique there are certainly some common elements that are used throughout in regards to styling them. Now for the list…


1. Placement of books-

Mix it up a bit. Create some vertical groupings but also have some books laying flat with the bindings/titles showing. It also looks great to group books of the same color together like in the last image. I bet you didn’t even notice that on first glance.

2. Decorative objects-

Make sure you add in some gorgeous decorative objects. Sculptural objects are best. This can be a gorgeous vase, bowl, plate, stylin’ bookends or maybe a set of decorative boxes. Keep in mind, you can add all these. Whatever strikes your fancy really, when you are out and about you just might stumble upon a great find. I have a friend who recently found a gorgeous decorative bowl at Home Goods just a few weeks ago.

3. Something organic-

You may have noticed in the images above most every bookcase had something organic. A pretty bunch of flowers, a plant, or my favorite, a large piece of faux coral.

4. Make it pop- 

If your bookcase has a back to it, consider painting the back of the bookcase shelves a bold contrasting color, this will make your objects really pop and give your bookcase the wow factor. Or even better, add some wallpaper to the back like in the photo above. I mean how great did that zebra wallpaper look?? If you want to play it a bit safer, just paint the back a few hues darker than the paint in your room. This looks great as well.

5. Something personal- 

A framed photo of you and your family, a souvenier purchased in a far away place. Or maybe you collect something like matchboxes or corks, then place them in a pretty glass bowl and display them. Essentially, display something that is going to make you smile inside when you see it and tell others a bit about who you are. A few of the bookcases had monogrammed items, candles are good or a large letter.

6. Art-

It is an absolute must to incorporate some art on your bookcase. Art is personal and can tell lots about who you are. A small framed print or some great framed photography is a must. You can even place the framed art on an easel. Of course, I am a big fan of hanging some framed art or photography off of the bookcase molding itself.

Now for a few of my very favorite things to fill those shelves:

These Foo Dogs are available in several colors from C. Wonder, $58/set. Great for adding color and they also function as bookends.

I so love these whimsical owl bookends from ZGallerie, $29.95

Decorative lacquer white trim boxes available in a few colors (navy being my favorite) and sizes at C.Wonder, $58-68

Faux coral available at ZGallerie, $24.95-$59.95

These wood spheres from West Elm easily add something organic, $19-$34

Make it personal with these fab monogram letters from C.Wonder, $34

Pierced ginger jars from C. Wonder, $68-$78

New from Nate Berkus at Target, figural blue pineapple, $24.99. Also available in creme.

Global Views flame bottle available at Zinc Door, $63

Accordion resin white containers available in 3 sizes from Zinc Door, starting at $80

Nate Berkus vase in a brass finish available at Target, $24.99

Show your edgy side with this decorative skull from ZGallerie, $14.95

Sculptural bust available on One Kings Lane, $70 {note- One Kings Lane sales are only for a limited time}

 How about framing or hanging a  gorgeous photograph of a Parisian street, AnnaWithLove shop on Etsy, $27

Another great photo of the City of Lights, AnnaWithLove shop on Etsy, $27

A 5 x 7 print from one of my favorite artists, Clare Elsaesser of TastesOrangey on Etsy, $15

So what do you think about these chic bookcase styling tips? Do tell. What are some ways you have decorated your bookcase? One thing’s for sure, I bet you will never a look at a bookcase quite the same way again. SO CHIC!

all images via pinterest unless otherwise noted

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