A beginner’s guide to styling a bookshelf

If you are interested in developing your styling skills, but don’t know where to start, spending some time reorganising your book shelves is a good place. This is because you will probably have all that you need to style your shelves and so don’t need to spend any money on this project. You can accomplish your styling project in an hour or so and it will make a huge impact in the room once you are finished. Have I convinced you yet? Great, let’s get down to looking at how it can be done…

One way to style a bookshelf is to cut back on the amount of clutter you have on display. Choose a few well loved items and showcase them alongside some books. Leave space on the shelf so that the eye is drawn to just one or two focal points on each level. Play around with positioning your pieces too. Take this picture below for instance. Notice the way the stylist has placed the bird on the top shelf just off centre, then positioned items of varying height underneath it. The stylist has left a small gap in between some of the items of the second shelf to create space and so as not to overwhelm the eye. If you cast you eyes downwards, you should find that they are moving in a zig-zag motion. This creates interest and is visually appealing. Try it out for yourself.

Bookcase 1

Another styling trick is to choose two or three main colours and display items in those hues. For example, in the image below the stylist has chosen white and gold as the main colours, with black as an accent colour. You may well find that you already have accessories in two or three colours as they are items that you are naturally drawn to in interior stores when shopping. If so, have a go at placing them together and play around with their positions on the shelf. Don’t forget, you can turn books around so that their spines face the wall if you want to make a feature out of book pages. Or alternatively, use the spines of some books to create a colourful horizontal display.

Bookcase 5

Perhaps the quickest and easiest styling trick to try is to group your books together in colours. I’ve done this in my home and it’s a quick win to be honest when you want to create a pleasing display but need to use all available space on the shelf. I’d love to have enough shelving to create the display in image 1 but our love of books means that this isn’t really possible in our home. If colour blocking is too much for you, you can try a nod towards the idea, as shown in the image below. Here the stylist has grouped books together in the same colour in twos or threes, but has avoided large blocks of the same colour. It’s a nice compromise which will enable you to achieve a cohesive look without looking too contrived.

Bookcase 4

Which is your favourite out of the three options?

Images via 1, 2,

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