6 Tips to Styling a Bookshelf

A wall of built-in bookshelves makes an instant statement, filling a room with warmth, color, and interest. It is the perfect solution for dealing with a collection of books, or for tastefully displaying art or antiques. It is also my favorite way for seamlessly incorporating the oversized tv that most of us have into the design of the room. Since built-in bookcases become a major feature of a room, it is important that you carefully edit the items you put on the shelf to avoid clutter. Below are some of my favorite styled shelves and tips to making your own shelves an artful display.

1.  Balance Books

Tips to Styling a bookshelf

In the music room of my Cido project, I used black as the accent to ground the light patterns in the overdyed rug and Eskayel wallpaper. By placing a row of solid black books in the upper corner of the shelves, I created balance in the room with the black pillows below and the piano to the right. I then spread the rest of the black books evenly throughout the rest of the shelves so that the eye would be drawn to each side of the bookshelf. I use this same process to organize books of different sizes and colors; carefully spreading out the books to ensure balance on the shelves and in the overall space.

2. Incorporate Decorative Objects

Tips to Styling a Bookshelf

In more formal and public spaces, I like to add beautiful, structural objects to my shelves. In my Talega South project, I added vases and bowls throughout to create a museum-like quality to the space. I especially love when these objects are meaningful family heirlooms or mementos of travel to personalize and create meaning in the room. I like to style some objects amongst books and others as stand alone pieces to make a statement.

3. Add Organic Elements


I love adding an organic element or two to my styled shelves. Depending on the style of my client, I might add rocks, coral, driftwood, or a succulent. In the shelves of my Calle Tamara project, small plants on two of the shelves add textural interest and a pop of green color to each side of the TV.

4. Select Favorite Family Photos

Tips to Styling a Bookshelf

The quickest way to personalize your shelves is to select your favorite family photos and highlight them in beautiful frames. I often mix the photos in with books and objects, but I like how in this dining room designed by Olivia Babarczy, photos on the lower shelves balance books placed up high. Framed photos are an inexpensive way to add color, interest, and make your styling a unique reflection of your family.

5. Consider Monochromatic

Becki Owens-living-room-remodel-stripe-throw-cp

By only styling with white objects in the living room built-ins of my Coto de Caza project, I allowed the textures and shapes of the objects to become the focus without taking away from the gorgeous colors of the oil painting to the right. Staying monochromatic ensures that shelves don’t become to busy in a room already full of color and pattern.

6. Add Storage

Tips to Styling a Bookself

Interesting baskets on the lowest shelf of this room in my Cido Project allows for quick cleanup of unsightly items. Beautiful baskets on the shelves of playrooms or family rooms allow toys and electronics to remain out of sight while still remaining easily accessible.

Beautifully styled bookshelves make a space feel curated and interesting adding to the character of your home. I hope these 6 tips to styling a bookshelf help you as you tackle your upcoming projects. Below are a few fun objectives that I’ve shopped for that you can use when styling. I hope you have a great start to your week.




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