How To Style A Bookshelf In 7 Easy Steps


Now that we have got all the books covered, we should look at displaying them the right way don’t you think. I am big fan of a proper style coffee table, but we will get to that in a later post, for now, we will stick with the obvious choice for the books – the bookshelf.

Before we start, think: a well-styled bookshelf is equal parts decorative and functional. Unless you master the fully crammed look (I call it the Ilse Crawford look), then keep it simple. Yes, it’s the perfect place for extra storage, but you also want it to look good. It’s definitely a great way to prominently display your most cherished possessions, and to create an eye-catching centrepiece for the living room, or any room really.

Check out these seven suggestions for creating an interesting, well-balanced, simple looking and multi-functional bookshelf display.


01. Vertical Rows of Books

The first step in styling a bookshelf requires – insert drumroll – books. For displaying vertically-oriented rows of books, first sort them into groupings based on height. If you don’t have enough books to fill the shelf from end-to-end, flank at least one side with a bookend. I a solid marble block in one end, and a thicker book at the other end to keep them all upright.

Just a side note about having enough books, while a wall fully stocked, top-to-bottom, end-to-end, can look quite amazing and you look very smart (always say you read them all, cover-to-cover), stick with choosing the best for display. The rest you can store beneath the bed or in your spare room.


02. Horizontal Stacks

This point is solely for visual variety – if you actually read your book, you’ll hate this point – alternate your book displays between vertical rows and horizontal stacks. Make your stacks with the larger books and coffee table literature. Don’t get carried away building a tower of books, only 3-5 books, arranged by size from largest to smallest on top, you might also want to think colour here, and consider topping the stack with small, decorative objects.


03. Lamps

The bookshelf is actually not the worst place to showcase your favourite table lamp. Depending on the size of your bookshelf, a lamp or two will illuminate your shelves in the evening. Two things to also think about are the size of the lamp, don’t go too big, and go for one with a built-in dimmer – perfect source for subtle mood lighting once the sun sets.

04. Vessels & Vases

A great way to break up the rows and stacks of books is by assembling a varied collection of vessels and vases. A bookshelf is the perfect place to keep these out of way when not embellishing your dining table full of flowers. Select a few vessels of varied heights with the tallest placed toward the centre and in the back. Feel free to mix-and-match across colours and materials, I often opt for glass, ceramics and metals – they look very good together – don’t place different metals in one group though.


05. Art & Frames

If you’re still unsure what to do with some of your smaller works of art, or old photos of family and friends, consider dedicating a full section of shelves for them. Pair a couple of framed works of varied sizes, arranging them with a slight overlap, and style the artworks alongside an eye-catching ceramic piece, or a candlestick holder or a smaller catch-all tray.

06. Audio

If your room isn’t already decked-out with surround sound, you might be struggling with a good place to put your wireless speaker. The bookshelf could be the perfect spot, it is at least hands-on and within reach if you want to relocate for better sound. Just remember you have to have a speaker worthy of displaying, most are these days anyway though; so don’t think too much about this one.

07. Storage

Finally, use the bottom row of shelves, which of course will get the least amount of attention, for a bit of extra storage. Find a sleek set of magazine holders or nice blend-in lidded storage boxes to store all your excess magazines, binders, and to keep all those not so pretty smaller items out of sight.






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