Styling Your Bookcases Step by Step
A set of bookcases that need to be filled–and accessorized–can be overwhelming. And, there’s probably 101 different ways to tackle this daunting task. So, while my approach isn’t necessarily the “right” way, here’s a step by step of how I personally go about styling the shelves in our home.
Clear them out!
It helps me to think more clearly when I take everything off of the shelves and just start from scratch. While you’re really styling each individual shelf/compartment, you still need to think about the overall look you want to achieve.
Although an optional step, I love how painting the back of a bookcase in an unexpected color makes the books and accessories pop against it. If you don’t want to commit to paint, you might consider cutting pieces of cardboard to fit and wrapping them in a pretty fabric or wrapping paper for a backdrop.
Start with books.
This may sound pretty obvious, but books are a great starting point. I like to add a grouping or two on each shelf, alternating sides and stacking some horizontally. I like to remove the dust jackets and always keep an eye out at yard sales and thrift stores for books with colorful spines. (Of course, if it’s something that you actually want to read, that’s an added bonus!)
Taller accessories first.
Once my books are on the shelves, I start by placing my bigger accessories first, scattering them throughout the different shelves. Finials or bulkier pieces make great bookends. I also like to use a few, special framed photographs. A lot of smaller frames can look busy, but choosing a few and leaning them against the backs makes for a cleaner look. I also use a glass cylinder to drop and display old family photos (see bottom shelf). It provides easy access and is a fun alternative to a photo album.
Create a cohesive feel with a collection.
Bookcases are great places to display a collection or accessories in groups. I used white pieces that would stand out against the blue background. I filled in empty spots with smaller accessories, varying the height of the pieces on each shelf. Don’t have a collection to work with? Create an instant grouping by spray painting several pieces the same color.
Mix in different textures.
Just like rooms, I think bookcases look best when they’re styled with different textures. Besides the white ceramic pieces, I mixed in glass, greenery and woven baskets (also great for hiding remotes, small toys, etc.)
And, my last piece of advice?
Arrange, rearrange and tweak until it just feels “right.” Bookcase styling should be as personal as it is pretty, housing pieces that hold special meaning and make you happy each time you look at them.
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