Easy Ways to Style Your Bookshelves Like the Pros

Learn how to style your bookshelves like the pros with our tips for arranging books and displaying found objects.

  • Add a Textured Back Panel

    Textured wallpaper or fabric is a great way to add color and depth to a basic white bookcase but keep the importance of a consistent color scheme in mind when covering the back panels. Since a majority of the objects here are blue, neutral, white and brass, a navy backdrop is the perfect choice for layering the blues and adding contrast to the gold-toned pieces.

  • Create Small Groupings

    To create a striking display, arrange books in small groups rather than simply filling every shelf end to end. Remove their jackets, then gather books with different heights and thicknesses in similar colors and pair them with sculptural bookends.

  • Opt for Creative Containers

    While bookshelves are mostly meant for display, they're also great for storing necessities. On the shelves of this dining room bookcase, matches, lighters and napkin rings are kept in vintage buckets which double as decorative features.

  • Curate Collections

    It's easy to run out of display space when you have lots of treasures to show off. Cut down on the number of shelves needed by grouping objects with similar finishes together. Here, assorted brass candlesticks, goblets and tools appear as a cohesive collection.

  • Work In Sculptural Pieces

    Sculptural objects with striking shapes are best displayed in a less-is-more approach. This leather-wrapped bronco is placed beside a treasured ceramic plate rather than surrounded by a grouping of similar objects which would otherwise read as clutter.

  • Add Reflective Accents

    Glass accents are a great way to add a touch of glitz to a bookshelf. To add depth and play with the layered blues, two different gourd-shaped containers were placed side-by-side as a pair.

  • Include Natural Elements

    Designers routinely use starfish, seashells and coral to bring a vivacious vibe to bookshelves. In addition to its rich texture and sculptural shape, coral also comes in a variety of colors, making it perfect for layering different shades of the same hue.

  • Frame It

    When adding picture frames to shelves, choose those with a range of heights and materials, like these shell-covered and seagrass frames.

  • Throw In Some Greenery

    Depending on the amount of natural light a room receives, adding living plants to bookshelves can instantly make the entire room seem more alive. Rather than displaying houseplants in traditional pots, try a more creative approach by placing them in unexpected, repurposed vessels, like this spittoon.

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