Decorate Your Bookshelf Like a Pro: Tips, Ideas, and Current Trends

Looking to give your bookshelf a stylish makeover? Want to know the secrets of creating a beautifully decorated space that showcases your personality and interests? Look no further! In this article, we'll show you how to decorate a bookshelf like a pro, with expert tips, dos and don'ts, and plenty of inspiring ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Whether you're a book lover, an interior design enthusiast, or simply looking to add a touch of panache to your home, we've got you covered. Prepare to be inspired as we delve into the art of how to decorate a bookshelf in style.

Decorate and Style Your Bookcase

Utilize items that hold sentimental value.

These bookcases are filled with cherished heirlooms from our family, artwork and pottery we collected during our travels, and a selection of my favorite books. Every item on our shelves has a special memory attached to it or represents someone or something meaningful in our lives. To me, a house truly becomes a home when you surround yourself with things you love that bring a smile to your face. When styling your bookcase, it is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your cherished collections.

Vary the height and width of objects.

As you can see, I have incorporated vases, ginger jars, and decorative boxes of varying heights and widths on my bookcase. My books also come in different sizes. This not only creates balance, but also adds visual interest to the overall display.

how to decorate and style your bookcase

Group similar items together.

I prefer to group similar items in odd numbers. For instance, in the image above, I have grouped three vases together. Although they are different, they complement each other nicely. When I have multiple items that match exactly, I like to separate them, placing them on each side.

Incorporate objects with different textures and shapes.

To avoid a bookshelf with a monotonous look, I like to introduce texture for added interest. You can achieve this by incorporating plants, faux flowers, or decorative accessories. In the image below, I have included a white coral piece, a uniquely designed decorative box, and a special ceramic ornament hanging from a stand. These items bring a sense of intrigue to my shelves. Take a look around your home for items that may imbue texture or possess a unique shape to enhance your shelves.

decorate and style your bookcase with these 10 tips

Select a color palette.

When styling shelves, having a dominant color or two helps create a cohesive look. As you can see, I chose blue and white, along with hints of pink, to feature throughout my shelves. However, I also incorporated a couple of other colors for added visual interest.

Incorporate functional items.

I am grateful to have this spacious bookcase, as it also serves a functional purpose for storage. I often use a ginger jar as a vase or take a book off the shelf for studying or reading. I simply adjust the arrangement of items slightly to fill in any gaps. Don't hesitate to utilize functional items as part of your decor and use your shelves to store them.

Add greenery.

Having greenery in every room of my home brings me joy. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to have houseplants or fresh flowers everywhere. I opted to include a few succulents that require less watering and a couple of high-quality faux arrangements. Feel free to mix and match both, just ensure that your faux pieces are of good quality.

tips to decorate your bookcase

Mix vintage and new pieces.

I find it fascinating when a home tells a story, and incorporating both old and new pieces allows you to share a piece of your life with others. On my shelves, I have books that were passed down from family members, such as poetry books containing my grandmother's poems and sermon books my grandfather, who was a Pastor, used to create his sermons. I also have a silver plate that holds special significance and a uniquely shaped pink vase that belonged to my grandmother. Additionally, I have collected beautiful, new ginger jars along with my favorite fashion and home design coffee table books. A well-balanced combination adds diversity and character to your space. Keep this in mind when decorating and styling your shelves and surfaces.

Don't hesitate to mix metals.

I often combine gold, brass, and silver elements to bring more character and visual interest to a space. While I adore gold frames and decorative items, I also enjoy incorporating silver to create contrast and enhance the overall curated look of my shelves. Embrace the opportunity to mix various metals and have fun with your decor!

Create balance and utilize white space.

There is no definitive rule on where to begin decorating your bookshelf. Some start from the top shelf, while others prefer to begin at the bottom. Personally, I often start with the middle shelf. Simply start somewhere and trust your instincts!

Here are a few helpful tips when it comes to decorating your bookshelf:

  • Start by adding your largest decor items. Stagger these items across the shelves. These items can include baskets, bowls, and boxes.
  • Add any large artwork to the back of the shelf, with smaller decorative items in front of it.
  • Incorporate your books and bookends, deciding whether you want to display them stacked or lined up perfectly.
  • Introduce plants for an added touch of greenery. Stagger the placement of these plants between shelves for visual interest.
  • Fill in the remaining spaces with smaller decor items such as decorative objects, picture frames, or sentimental mementos.

Remember that empty space can be just as visually appealing as filled space, so don't be afraid to leave some white space. When in doubt, try to group items in odd numbers for a pleasing visual effect.

In the end, decorating your bookshelf is a personal endeavor. Choose items that hold meaning to you and add to the overall beauty of your bookshelf. The goal is to showcase the lovely items you have carefully curated.

#3. Placement of Tray, Art Print, and Accessories

To create an aesthetically pleasing arrangement, start with a shallow round tray, art print, or mirror. The shape can be circular, square, or rectangular. If you prefer a tray, you can find one similar to mine at this link. Ideally, the item should have some height, but you can cheat by adding books underneath for added elevation. On one side, place a tall accessory such as a plant, preferably a snake plant that is resilient. On the other side, add a low-height accessory like a dried star pod. This unconventional piece adds a unique touch and can also be used on a fireplace mantel. Another example of this arrangement can be found on our other bookcase.

Built-in bookcases flanking desk and window in middle - a great arrangement for a family room!

Can you guess which shelf follows this formula? It's the middle shelf on the left side. In the center, there's an art print similar to this "Let's Stay Home" printable. On one side, there is a small plant, and on the other side, there's a large accessory like this candelabra.

Love the styling of the shelves in this large built-in bookcase - click through for lots of helpful tips and formulas for decorating your own shelves!

Additionally, there are two more simple formulas you can use from this second bookcase.

SUPER helpful tips for decorating shelves and bookcases!!

#5. Large Accessory with Decorative Box and Small Accent Piece

Start with a large accessory such as a sculpture, bust, or ceramic horse head. Choose something that catches the eye. Next to it, place either a horizontal stack of books or a decorative box, like this black and white striped box, for example. On top of the box, add a small accent piece, such as a piece of coral.

Now, let's move on to our home office. But before we do, did you notice that the top middle shelf follows formula #1? It's interesting how I unintentionally decorated two shelves in the same way until I wrote this post.

Super helpful formulas for decorating bookshelves and built-in bookcases!

I have featured our home office multiple times on the blog and Instagram, usually showcasing our gallery wall. However, today we're turning the camera towards the built-in bookcase.

Loving all of the tips on how to decorate bookcases and shelves! These are beauties!

Home Office Sources: Rug (similar) | Faux cowhide (similar) | Semi flush mount ceiling light | Wingback desk chair (similar) | Acrylic curtain rods | Drapes – no longer available

A portion of the shelves is already occupied by a TV and two speakers, and the area above the desk has small wood cubbies filled with IKEA KVARNVIK boxes. However, there's still plenty of shelving space that requires styling.

Super easy tips on how to decorate shelves and bookcases!

I have come up with two more formulas for styling your shelves.

Seven simple formulas that make styling shelves and bookcases SUPER easy!

#6. Books with Vase as Bookend and Long Narrow Basket

Begin with a few upright books placed at one end of the shelf. To serve as a bookend, use a vase or another decorative accessory. Choose an item that is the right height and weight to support the books. This is an excellent opportunity to display something unique or meaningful, such as old saddle stirrups. For a cohesive look, consider using one of these vases:

Next to the bookend, add a long and narrow basket. You can use this basket to store books, add decorative items, or utilize it for office supplies. In my case, I use it to store fabric samples. Remember that having varying heights, such as taller books and a shorter vase, will create a visually appealing look.

Seasonal Bookshelf Decor Ideas

When it comes to decorating your bookshelf, don't feel confined to a single style. Instead, embrace the changing seasons and switch up your decor accordingly. Whether you want to add a touch of holiday spirit or update the overall look of your bookshelf, there are plenty of creative and easy seasonal decor ideas. Here are a few examples from my previous projects:

Coastal built-in bookshelf with decor ideas like vases and candlestick plus storage baskets on the top shelf

Now, let's discuss the current trends in bookshelf decor that have gained popularity this year. Here are some styles to keep an eye out for:

Bookshelf decor ideas roundup with boxes, sculptures and wooden decorative objects One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten | Eleven

  • Wooden links - These have been widely seen in design and continue to be popular. Expect to see new variations of this trend.
  • Wooden knot sculptures - These sculptures are a fun twist on the wooden links trend and are gaining popularity. Stay ahead of the curve by incorporating them into your bookshelf decor.
  • Brass-trimmed, clear glass, rectangular boxes - This trend has been around for a few years and shows no signs of fading. Brass is a popular hardware finish, and these boxes coordinate perfectly with the overall design.
  • Large, primitive, bulbous shaped vases - These vases are everywhere! They usually come in solid colors and have simple designs. They are perfect for displaying taller stemmed greenery.
  • Fluted and Reeded textures - These textures add a touch of elegance to your bookshelf decor. Fluted textures have inward grooves, while reeded textures have outward ridges.
  • Arched decor - Incorporate this trend into your living room bookshelf design by using arched-shaped bookends.

White bookshelf with small shelves full of coastal decor and plants

In just five easy steps, you can transform your bookshelf into a stunning display of style and personality. From choosing the perfect color palette to incorporating trendy accessories, this article has covered it all. By following the dos and don'ts of bookshelf decorating, you can create a visually appealing and organized space that reflects your unique taste. So why wait? Start revamping your bookcase today and let your creativity shine through. Happy decorating!

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