4 Steps To Style Your Shelves

Posted: July, 31, 2014 | Categories: Home Inspiration

A large bookcase can either be a beautiful focal point, or eyesore, of a room – which one it is completely depends on how it is styled. Are your books so stuffed in they are threatening to tumble onto the floor? Shelves a chaotic mess? If you would love to get magazine-worthy styled shelves in your own home, but aren't sure where to begin, this post is for you! Read on for four easy tips to whip your shelves into shape.

Step 1: Bust clutter. When there is simply too much stuff packed into a bookcase, it's impossible for it to look good. The first step towards having beautifully styled shelves is to work your way through each and every item on the shelves, and assess it. Do you love it? If it's a book, have you read it and loved it? Do you plan to ever pick it up again? There are many charities (including your local library) that would be overjoyed to receive a donation of books – start packing up boxes of books you would be willing to part with. Aim to make enough room that each shelf is only 3/4 full, at the most. Hudson Interior Design

Step 2: Rearrange books. Now that you have winnowed your collection, it's time to start styling. Try stacking some books vertically and some horizontally. Or fill one shelf with a row of horizontally stacked books. You could even try putting your books in rainbow order! Play around until you hit on an arrangement that is pleasing to your eye. Don't worry too much about it though – you will still have time to adjust things in the next steps. Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design

Step 3: Edit decor. It helps to have a few non-book items to fill in your shelves and add visual interest, but too many odds and ends can look cluttered. Put all of your decor items together and look them over – do you love all of them? Set aside any that you are no longer so fond of, or that do not go with the others. Wondering what to include? Try one or more of these ideas:

  • Place picture frames against back of shelving to fill vertical space behind books
  • Attach a picture frame to the front of the bookcase (as shown above)
  • Add color and freshness with a small potted plant or bud vase of flowers
  • Bring in some curves with decorative dishes, vases, or bowls
  • Add texture, color, and storage with woven baskets or lacquered boxes

Step 4: Step back. Look at your shelves from across the room. Do they still need something? If they still look too cluttered, experiment with taking away a few more stacks of books, or remove a few decor items. If they look a little bare, try adding a plant or tuck in a small vintage painting or family picture. And if you really want to make a change, perhaps a little paint is in order – take a cue from the sophisticated gray shelves shown here and paint your bookcase a warm gray. If your bookcase has drawers or cabinets, swap out the hardware for something fresh and new.

And finally, a great way to add a big hit of color and pattern is by applying wallpaper to the back of your bookcase. Don't want to invest the time and money in wallpaper? No problem – simply pick your favorite fancy gift wrap pattern and carefully apply it to the back of your shelving with double sided tape for a nearly-instant update.

Tell us: What is your favorite shelf styling trick? Would you try any of these ideas at home?

Photo credits, from top to bottom: McCaffrey Homes: Hampton Renaissance La Veranda Plan Bonus Room (header image); Rainbow shelves: Hudson Interior Designs; Beachy shelves: Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design; Painted shelves: Stephen Fletcher Architects; Wallpapered shelves: Martha O'Hara Interiors.

Hudson Interior Design

Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design

Stephen Fletcher Architects

Martha O’Hara Interior Design