The best part about bookcases is that they can be styled in so many different ways. There are no concrete ways on how to style a bookcase, but there are some useful tips to know as you begin styling your bookshelves. With these tips and your creativity, you’ll have a bookshop-worthy bookcase in no time!
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The Best Tips on how to Style a Bookcase
Styling a bookcase can be an incredible way to use your creative license and express yourself using not only books, but also colors, mementos, composition, and layers. There are a few rules of thumb when it comes to decorating bookshelves so that it is cohesive with your home:
- Room Theme: Start with the theme of your space and pull colors & items from there.
- Books & Trinkets: Bookcases don’t have to be just for books! Show off souvenirs, photos, and other special items.
- Create Dimension: Try to avoid lining up all of your books in a single row – use layers and dimensions to add interest to the space.
- Avoid Clutter: The more objects you have mixed in with your books, the messier it looks (and collects more dust!). Stick with a dynamic layout with a moderate amount of items that you absolutely love.
Let’s break these tips down with details and examples:
1. Start with The Room theme and pull Details from there
One of the first steps on how to style a bookcase is to decide on a theme. It’s best to base your bookcase’s theme on the space it will be in. Take a look at your room and pay attention to the colors and the prominent decor pieces. Sticking with a theme will help you narrow down your choices and get started on pulling together bookends and other decor items that fit your concept.
For example, if your room is a darker color with natural accents (like greens and browns), then it’s best not to have a bookcase filled with rainbow items that don’t fit the design of your room. Continue scrolling through this post to see a variety of themes that fit every style.
2. Show off your favorite books and trinkets
Think about the difference between library shelves and bookshop shelves. A library just has rows and rows of only books. Then you walk into a bookshop and see all sorts of books, decor items, product displays, souvenirs, collectibles, etc. Which environment is more interesting to you? If you’re like me, you can definitely enjoy a library, but you can spend hours in a bookshop because there is so much eye-candy!
Now think of these bookshop shelves as you create your bookcase concept. You can still display all of your books, but also consider adding items that mean something to you. It’s best to add pieces of decor that have a story behind them (fits in with books, huh?). You can also think of your bookcase as if it’s your own modern trophy case.
Pro Tip: Use decor items in odd numbers. Odd numbers are pleasing to the eye and provide a sense of balance. This is because “odd numbers force your eyes to move around the grouping-and by extension, the room.”
3. Create dimension with layers and Textures
This is the really fun part! Like mentioned before, when styling a bookcase, try to avoid lining all your books up in a single row. Turn some books on their side, add rounded objects to contrast with the sharp edges of books, and play with shapes using bookends and different-sized books. Place larger objects in the back of the shelves, and then place the smaller objects in front to create depth. It’s like a really fun puzzle to create!
4. Avoid clutter
Now, I’m a big fan of adding a variety of items to bookshelves, but there is a thin line you can cross. Too many items, and it can look like a messy clutter. I would avoid going to Homegoods and stocking up on dozens of decor items just because (sorry, Rae Dunn); instead, choose items with intention. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and ask if each item sparks joy (and matches the theme). A good number range to keep in mind while styling your bookshelves is 4-6 – if you have more than 6 items on one shelf, it’s more than likely clutter.
The good news is, you can find ways to incorporate your favorite trinkets in a creative and minimal way. If you stick with a color theme and below 6 items per shelf, you can still display your Homegoods purchases and still be aesthetically pleasing!
Pro Tip: Leave some negative space. Negative space is the breathing space between objects. Keep objects separated and place smaller objects in taller shelves to create more negative space. The more negative space you have, the cleaner and minimalist the area looks. This can create a calming effect and reduce the feeling of clutter.
Bookcase Themes & Styling Ideas
So you’ve learned the 4 important factors on how to style a bookcase – now you get to let your creativity go wild! Come up with your plan, gather your books & keepsakes, and start styling! Here are some fun ideas to inspire you.
Color Coordinate Your Books
Organize your bookcases by a color that you love (or go full-on rainbow!). There are even sites where you can purchase books exclusively by color choice, for this exact purpose.
Turn Books Around For A Neutral Look
The ‘backward books’ look is a bit of a controversial trend – after all, most people love displaying the books they’ve completed. But if seeing the covers of your books isn’t a priority, this is a really clever way of subtly displaying them, while creating a modern aesthetic at the same time.
Add Pops of color
If your bookcase is a solid color, it’s trendy to have most of your books and items as that same color. To add some liveliness, you can then add little pops of your favorite colors to make them stand out. It’s just the right amount of color to create intrigue, without creating overwhelm.
place wallpaper on the back of your bookcase
Want to easily add some flare to your shelves? Simply add wallpaper with a color or design that you love and place it on the back of your bookcase. This requires a little DIY work, but it’s the perfect blend of classic and flashy elements.
incorporate Big and small plants
Add some houseplants of all sizes to your shelves to instantly level-up your space.
The best plants for bookshelves that are aesthetic and easy to take care of are: Bird’s Nest Snake Plant, Arrowhead, Maidenhair Fern, and of course Succulents.
The best trailing plants for the top shelf are Strings of Hearts and Devil’s Ivy since they cascade down.
choose a genre for your shelves
If you have a particular hobby or niche that you’re interested in, why not create a themed bookcase with this passion? Find books on the topic that you love, as well as little displays that fit the theme. It’s a perfect way to show off what you love.
Treat Your Shelves Like A 3D Scrapbook
Show off your favorite family memories, travel souvenirs, and gifts from loved ones. Your shelves can be a special tribute to your life memories.
paint your shelves a bold color for contrast
Purchase or paint a bold-colored bookshelf so that anything placed within it stands out. The contrast of colors adds dimension and creates an interesting focal point in your room.
add baskets for aesthetic storage
Use wicker or canvas baskets to remove clutter – make your bookcase multi-task as a beautiful display and as a practical storage space.
install floating shelves for intrigue
Opt for something other than a simple rectangular bookcase and install floating shelves in a pattern of your choice. It’s a great twist on a classic bookcase that looks modern and creative. They allow for more versatility with the space so you can add larger objects, like tall lamps, flowers, or pieces of art.
What Will You Showcase?
What matters most is that you tap into your creativity and find personalized ways to show off what you love. There really is no one-size-fits-all way on how to style a bookcase. Bookcases certainly don’t have to be boring – so make them stylish and unique, just like your personality!