What to Keep on Your Shelves Besides Books

While traditional library-esque bookshelves certainly have their own appeal, a modern twist on a classic shelving setup is impossible to ignore. With the addition of vintage finds, lush plants and pops of color, a bookcase can go from a spot to store favorite reads to a perfectly curated vignette where you can show off your unique style.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.

Photo By: Sarah Sweeney Photography

Photo By: Lee Manning

Photo By: Graham Joyner, Metal + Petal

Photo By: Jenny Norris

Photo By: Amity Worrel

Photo By: Wake and Loom

Photo By: Regan Wood

Photo By: Jessica Klewicki Glynn

Photo By: Regan Wood

The Lush Life

Plants have a way of transforming every space. From the smallest succulents to the biggest indoor palms, a touch of green has the power to turn any interior into a high-style oasis. Make any bookshelf come to life by incorporating a plant or two wherever there’s a bit of extra room. For an extra dose of lush greenery, let the leaves drape over multiple shelves or books.

Show Off Your Photos

Less is more is a frequently-used adage for a reason, but it doesn't always apply to interiors — as these eclectic built-in shelves prove. Bookshelves are hard to ignore, which makes them the ideal spot to showcase items you want everyone to see. One of the best ways to fill up the empty spots? With a collection of personal photographs that have been thoughtfully framed and placed amongst the rest of your belongings on display.

Fashion Oasis

Skip standard baubles and fill your bookshelf with pieces that define your personal design style instead. Rather than storing your favorite accessories away in a closet or drawer, keep them out in full view so you can fully appreciate them. From shoes to handbags to jewelry, anything works, so don’t be afraid to opt for something a bit more you when it comes to bookshelf decor.

Vintage Touches

No matter where you acquired them, vintage and antique items are a great way to introduce an extra dose of personality into any space. A bookshelf is one of the best places to house some of your small-scale pieces that you wish to keep safe, but still in full view. From collectibles to rare accents, your treasures are sure to shine.

Get Organized

Tight on space? Look no further than this bookshelf to inspire your next rainy day project. Designate a couple of shelves to help out with your storage woes. This added space can give you the gift of a little extra room for those things that don’t seem to fit elsewhere, from toys to office essentials. Using baskets to hide the clutter will help create a cohesive look that won’t seem out of place.

Splash of Color

Don’t get lazy when it comes to organizing your bookshelf. Sure, you can simply stack and align books any which way, but why do that when you can create a unit that will top just about any shelfie you’ve seen on Instagram? Creating a cohesive color palette is a great way to design shelves that scream style. Group books based on their color and then bring in additional decor that matches them to really make your chosen shades pop.

Trendy Elements

We tend to suggest sticking to budget-friendly pieces when it comes to trendy decor, especially since they come and go so quickly. The items that are hot now may be old news in a month or two, but that doesn't mean you should completely ignore them. Snag trendy elements that are smaller in size so you can easily swap them in and out based on what you’re obsessing over at any given time.

Modern Accents

If minimalist design is up your alley, this swoon-worthy shelving unit is bound to make you a little jealous. Bookshelves run the risk of becoming cluttered, but that’s something you can easily avoid. Space out books in different areas and in different styles — stacked, leaning, set between bookends — and leave ample amounts of extra space for decorative accents. From simple glass vases to mini modern sculptures, your shelves will feel museum-worthy in a few simple steps.

Curated Collection

Turn your bookshelf into a flawless feature of your home by showcasing a curated collection of your top finds. Pottery, lighting and art can and should be housed on these shelves alongside your books to create a personality-filled focal point. A simple ladder bookshelf becomes a next-level library when you introduce carefully picked out pieces that are bound to induce major interior envy.

Playful Sophistication

Shelves in a child’s room don't need to be as perfectly prim as those in a living space or master bedroom, so be sure to add playful touches when it’s necessary. Plush toys, youthful patterns and metallic contrasts all help to make these bookshelves child-friendly while remaining stylish enough to fit into the rest of your interior design scheme.

Shop This Look