How to Style Bookshelves

The gentle giants of home decorating.

In one sense, you can’t miss them, yet in another, they seem to just fade into the background of a room. Although they are useful and serve the practical purpose of housing our books and decorations, they can also be a show-stopping focal point. It just takes a little bit of artistic intervention to step them up a notch! After decorating and arranging many, many bookshelves over the years, we have come up with these simple steps to follow:

  • Place your book stacks. Group your books in clusters of 5 or so and lay some vertically and some horizontally on the bookshelves. Be mindful of the color on the binding of the books you choose, as you want your shelves to flow well with your preexisting room décor. You’ll want to stagger your stacks a little so that they are well balanced throughout your shelves. 
  • Add your bigger items. Once you’ve placed your book stacks, you can fill in with your bigger items. This could be vases, ceramics, baskets, picture frames, globes, or whatever else you’d like. A good rule of thumb when adding in the bigger decorations is to place them lower on the bookshelf. Sometimes if you put your heavier-looking things on the top shelves, it can feel a little out of balance! 
  • Incorporate some green. Honestly, we feel that plants improve the look of any space. Succulents, cacti, aloe, and ferns are just a few of the many options you have, and add the sweetest touch of nature and color to a bookshelf. There’s just something about having a little green in your room to give it life and vibrance.
  • Throw in a few metallics. You don’t have to go crazy in this area but adding a few metallics to the mix can really set your bookshelf off! Consider adding a gold frame or two, an antique brass jewelry box, or a vase with some silver etching to draw some interest.
  • Finish off with the smaller trinkets. At this point, fill in your bookshelf with the little trinkets and smaller items you have! Smaller candles, a small mirror, a pair of vintage spectacles, or even a small figurine can be the perfect way to complete your look!
  • Edit and adjust. As with any kind of interior design or home decorating, we can get lost in the details. So take a step back and rearrange where needed. Maybe the plants need to be spaced a little further apart? Maybe all of your most colorful books ended up on the same shelf? It can be helpful to take a picture of it on your phone to see it from a different angle and adjust from there. Play with it until you love it!

Don’t be afraid to leave a few empty spaces on your bookshelf as well! There can be a temptation to overload them, but we have found that it is actually softer on the eye to leave some negative space here and there. And, as always, if you find yourself stuck or in need of another opinion, we have an amazing team of creatives here at Louisa Jane that would be glad to offer a helping hand! Happy styling, friends!

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