This Is How To Style A Bookcase And Match Your Taste

Interior design is, somehow, science. Everything around the house has the right place to be. You can’t just spread objects everywhere. If you want a stylish house, you should find the exact position of all the decorative objects. For instance, you need to know how to arrange photos on your staircase walls or how to dress a bay window or a window without curtains. You can even make a room look bigger, as long as you decorate it the right way.

A cozy room with white bookcases set on either side of the window

The same goes for a bookcase as well. Decorating shelves need thinking. Whether you have built-in bookshelves or not, to DIY upgrade your home decor and take it to another level, you need great tips to boost your interior design and not ruin it. Therefore, this is how to style a bookcase and match your taste. 

Preparing your bookcase 

Some may think that it doesn’t matter how to place the books or the decorative items on the shelves. On the other hand, many of you might feel it’s hard and challenging to style your bookcase and pair it with the rest of the sitting room or dining room decor. It’s like decorating a living room. With some simple changes, you can make even a small space look stylish. 

Either way, before we share with you some design ideas, you need to gather a few things:

  • Books (many or few. It’s up to you)
  • A few framed photos or pieces of art
  • Some small objects that mean something to you
  • Greenery 

Having these on hand, let’s see shelf-styling tips to apply to your shelving units. But, before starting decorating your bookcase, you need first to remove everything from it so that you can start from scratch and clean it.

How to decorate your bookcase

1. Arrange the bookshelves

Empty white bookcase ready to be styled

Bookshelves should be the principal decorating element and create visual interest in the room. To achieve this, you need to consider the size and the place the bookshelves are with the rest of the furnishing and decorative items of the room. Here’s what you can do: If you want to make it eye-catchy, set the shelves on either side of the TV or the fireplace. Or, if you want to make it look like a built-in and feel bigger, place two identical bookshelves next to each other.

2. Don’t overcrowd

Having a lot of books, trinkets or decorative small pieces doesn’t mean you must display all of them. Separate those you really love and find another place for the rest. You need to mix and match books with other decorative objects and, at the same time, leave some empty space on the shelves. If you have stuffed shelves, it would be very tiring and dull, plus you or the others who will see your piece of furniture won’t distinguish the objects. It will be rather confusing and finally ignored.

But, if you have many objects you want to display, you might consider changing each season. For instance, if you have souvenirs from your summer trips, you can display them during summer and change them every autumn. This way, you won’t overcrowd your unit, and all of your favourite items will be displayed.

3. Choose the right paint colours

Don’t choose books and items of different colours. Try to stick to one or two dominant colours and repeat them on the bookcase. Keeping a colour pattern will be more calming to the eyes than having multiple colours. It would also be a great idea to group books by colour per shelving. But, if you want a more aesthetic result, opt for a rainbow shelf. Arrange your books according to colour and shade. You can, for example, add red books first and then keep up with the orange ones ending to the light pink shadings. Or you can arrange all dark ones ending to the lighter shades (and vice versa).  

4. Go for layering

Bookcase with pink and blue books, a plant in a pot and other decorative items

There are so many ways you can place your books. You can mix vertical rows with horizontal stacks as a bookend. Or you just stack a few books and place a small piece on top to create a small vignette. Play with heights and depths to create more visual interest. It’s similar to decorating shelves. Place a big photo and a vase towards the back, and then place a small decorative box, a photo or any other smaller accents at the front. Lean a photo framed on the back and place a small item in front of it. Or lean different sizes of photos. Then, add a large vase for some extra height. 

5. Play with objects you love

You don’t need to spend money on decorative pieces. Just look around your house, gather all the sentimental items, pictures of beloved people, and display them on the bookcase. Usually, the new ones will make your shelves look dull. But, old pieces can make them the focal point. Add your old photo albums, an old picture frame, or even your grandma’s jewellery box that you kept in your drawers.    

6. Make groups of three

A small white bookcase with decorative items arranged in groups of three next to a pink armchair

Experts in interior decoration recommend arranging items in odd numbers (one, three, five, seven and so on)  to create symmetry. Add three objects of different heights, let’s say, a big vase, a shorter picture frame and a small pot. Your storage unit will become the eyesore in the room. If you want a more minimalist shelf styling, place just one accent piece. It’s a brilliant idea, especially if you have a small space.

7. Place only books

If you want to use your bookcase just for what it is designed for, then do it! Store your books only! You can, though, make it more interesting and appealing by breaking up space. Make horizontal stacks with your coffee table books, make vertical rows or lean some. Place them differently on every shelf and add some small trinkets to make them more interesting.

8. Add greenery

Indoor plants bring nature into any room like home office and even your bedroom. Arranging them in the living room or hanging them from the ceiling will probably boost your home decor and your home’s interior. But, placing a small pot on the shelf, let’s say a cactus, can add extra dimensions to your shelf.  Place a large brass pot or other vessels to display a plant on the bottom shelves. In case you don’t have green fingers, opt for some artificial plants of different sizes to place them on most shelves. 

9. Add extra storage

A simle white bookcase with boxes for extra storage

If you want to declutter the room, add a few bins to the bottom shelves. A very smart and attractive way to style your shelves and store cords, clothing and any other item you want to hide in case unexpected visitors pay you a visit. As a plus, the shelves will always be tidy as you won’t let items rest all over the shelves.

10. Wallpaper the back of your bookcase

Another smart idea that interior stylists suggest is to line a wallpaper at the bookcase’s back. A wallpaper will turn your bookcase from a boring, plain storage unit into a decorative piece, adding at the same time colour, depth and dimension to your room. It isn’t very hard to line it. If you have ever fit a wallpaper around a window, this will look like a walkover. 

11. Don’t forget about the artwork

A few pieces of artwork couldn’t be missing from a makeover. Place the artwork at the back of the shelf and make layers with decorative pieces in front. This will create depth and interest. And don’t worry about spending a fortune to purchase expensive artwork. You can just get beautiful, inexpensive posters and switch them on each season change.

12. Stand back and observe

When you think you are done decorating your unit, stand back and have a look. You can even take a photo with your phone to be sure that everything is balanced. Move and remove any item if you believe that a shelf is overcrowded.

A big white bookcase with many books and colourful decorative objects

You don’t need to worry anymore! There aren’t any right or wrong items when styling your bookcase. Just the right way to do so! Apply the design ideas mentioned above and create a unique focal point in your living space. Everyone will admire your place, and most importantly: it will reflect your personality.

Coming next: Learn how to build a tree bookcase and how to organise your bookcase efficiently.

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