9 Tips and Tricks to Style Bookshelves
September 21, 2023

9 Tips and Tricks to Style Bookshelves

Bookshelves are an elegant part of any home. Some homes have bookshelves built into the walls. Bookshelves can also be used to decorate almost every room in the house. There are traditional bookshelves, geometric bookshelves, ladder shelves, and bookshelves made from creatively upcycled materials. Each offers a unique styling opportunity. But how do you make a bookshelf look stylish with the items you place on each shelf?

At Fossil Blu, beautiful and practical home designs are our passion. The perfect bookshelf arrangements can give your home personality and style, in addition to holding all your favorite books. Whether in your reading nook, along living room walls, or in a cozy corner of your bedroom, your bookshelves can look fantastic with just a few styling tips.

1) Every Shelf Sets a Scene

Look at your bookshelf as a display shelf. It can hold more than books, and artfully arranging your bookshelf can help you create a sense of composition. To do this, consider creating vignettes or mini scenes using every shelf as its own decorative surface. Each shelf is an opportunity to craft an aesthetic display that, together, creates a stylish bookshelf display.

Each shelf on your bookshelf can hold different elements including vases, plants, sculptures, minerals, lights, and of course, books. By separating your bookshelf into individual shelves, you can consider each section as an individual design display.

2) Separate Your Bookshelf into Decorative Sections

If you have longer shelves, mentally divide your bookshelf into display sections. For example, one row of books and a bookend may take up half of a shelf, three picture frames together make another section, and a stack of books with something decorative on top could be a third section. This can help you create a bookshelf look with an eye-catching arrangement no matter where your eye rests on the shelf arrangement.

The sectional approach is a great way to help you decide where to use books, sculptures, and different shapes to create a more aesthetic look.

3) Bookshelves in Surprising Places

Did you know that you can decorate a bookshelf anywhere in the house? Any open shelving and even floating shelves can become a place for stylish books and art. Stow a shelf of books in your kitchen for cookbooks and a potted herb plant. Place shelving in your toilet nook instead of a magazine stand to make the home's bathrooms more charming and welcoming. Bookshelves are a classic way to make a home feel more 'cottage' style, as built-in shelves and cozy books go perfectly with features like Farmhouse sinks, shaker-style cabinets, and natural wood furnishings. 

4) Artful Book Alignments and Stacks

The way you arrange your books can help to make your bookcase more stylish. First, remember that you can artfully display books aligned upright or stacked on their side. Stacks of books should be all the same size or taper from largest to smallest in a little pyramid. Upright books look best when books of approximately the same size and spine width are arranged together. Some people separate their books by both size and color, but grouping books by author and series often has the same effect.

When arranging books on the shelf, pull all books forward so the spines form a solid line, even if the books are different sizes and depths. This will give you more of a library looks. Combine upright and stacks of books, each in a different 'section' of shelf for a more dynamic style.

5) Leave Room for Art Between Books

If you have a lot of books to shelve, you can use the full length of each shelf for books. This is classic and can give your room a more formal look. But if you're going for style, blend books with artistic décor in the way you decorate your shelves.

To style a bookshelf, be sure to leave room for artistic displays between the rows or stacks of books. This is your chance to show off your favorite small to medium-sized decorative items - or to collect a few beautiful new pieces to display with your books. For example, you can create a row of books that occupies half the shelf, then place a sculpture, vase, or picture frames in the other half of the shelf. On the shelf below, alternate with the row of books on the other side.


6) Design with Different Sized Books and Objects

Bookshelves are often seen as uniform, but you can create a dynamic display using differently sized elements. Large and small books, tall and short picture frames, wide or tall vases; they can each add a new aspect of design to your bookshelf. This gives you the opportunity to display all your favorite artistic pieces, whether they are big or small, while giving your bookshelf an enjoyable non-uniform style. Experiment with where you want to draw the eye with larger items and where you'd rather add accents with smaller items.

7) Bookcases and Potted Plants Look Great Together

Books and green plants have always been beautiful together. Ivy dripping down your bookcase or vibrant leafy plants growing on the shelves are a great way to bring your bookcase to life. Choose potted plants that thrive on indirect light and grow well indoors so they can live happily in the shelves of your bookcase. Intersperse small to medium-sized potted plants in decorative pots instead of sculptures in your bookshelf. Put them on opposite sides of the shelf to create an asymmetrical symmetry.

8) Choose Book-Ends with Personality

Bookends are also a great way to decorate your bookshelf. Why use typical bookends when you can choose something that reflects your style and personality? Go wild with your choice in bookends. You can use small, heavy sculptures or cool half-and-half bookends that make each row of books into something special or even vintage bookends. Choose book ends that make you smile, that you find beautiful or funny, and that spice up your shelf design. This turns even rows of books into a decorative space.

9) Have Worn Books Restored and Re-Bound

Lastly, you can make your bookshelf more beautiful by restoring old books. If you have books you've read a million times with broken spines or flaking covers, you can have them restored. There are specialists in every city who can restore classic covers or re-bind books into new covers. This will not only make your bookshelf more attractive, it will also give old and beloved books new life.

Stylize Your Home with Fossil Blu

At Fossil Blu, we love helping homeowners achieve style, beauty, and increased functionality. Reinvent your home with both surface-changes like bookshelf styling and renovations including elegant sink designs in fireclay or beaten copper. To explore more ways to improve your home or make your space more beautiful, contact us today.