Ahh, shelves! Not only are they a great storage solution for books and framed photos, but, when styled right, they can also serve as a statement-making display.
Read these styling tips and learn how to style bookshelves with knick-knacks, books, and other decorative objects to create a cohesive look that puts the fun in functional.
Shelf Styling Basics
- Creating dimension is at the top of bookcase styling tips 101. Mix and match type, size, texture, and tone to create a beautifully styled shelf. Group two to three objects of varying height and style for different areas of each level and distribute items with the same accent colors evenly throughout.
- Decorate bottom to top. Heavier objects should go on the bottom, and the delicates should be farther down. Larger items will help physically and visually anchor your shelving unit (if it’s a standing one).
- Take the time to plan and be selective in what you put on your shelves. Stand back and assess the whole picture as you decorate. Play with the groupings and placement until you’re pleased… and stop there. Resist the urge to keep adding objects or turn your shelves into a catch-all.
- Be thoughtful about the color palette of your shelves. Just like any room in the house, it’s essential to keep the color scheme consistent or the space will feel messy. Make sure the palette you choose for your shelves compliments the rest of the room.
- Pick a base, two accents, and one metallic. Though this isn’t a hard and fast rule, it is an easy formula for a color palette that’s stylish but safe! If you’d rather go neutral, choose monochromatic accents with different textures — like wicker, glass, and ceramic.
- If you’re not happy with your shelves, try a new coat of paint. Painting or wallpapering the inside wall of built-ins can also be a fun way to add a pop of color.
Creative Ideas for Books
- Turn books backward, so their spine faces inside. This creates a unique but uniform look and is especially helpful if you want a monochromatic shelf.
- Create a book gradient. Make the most of colorful book covers and organize your books by color for a stunning ombre effect. Take a peek under book jackets as well — the plain cover may work better for your desired look.
- Use books as bookends. Stack some books flat bumped up against standing books. This not only makes your shelves a little more interesting, but it also provides pedestals to exhibit other objects and help with the height factor.
Tips for Frames
- Layer your frames strategically. Shelves are a great way to display framed photographs and artwork without damaging the walls (and incurring that annoying fine when moving out of an apartment). Layer larger frames behind small frames or objects or set a small frame on top of a stack of books to balance the shelf’s height.
- Use the same filter for your printed photos. The quality and type of photographs can vary, resulting in an undesirable medley of color and style. Printing all your pictures in black and white can help bring uniformity to your shelves. Display them in simple white or black frames for a classy, monochromatic look.
- Frame unique things. From children’s artwork to your favorite magazine covers, framing unique items, you can add character to a room and keep your best memories in clear view.
Other Creative Things to Put on a Bookshelf
- Try candles! Candles don’t just fill the air with a pleasant fragrance—they’re perfect for bookcase styling! You can find gorgeous ceramic candles and elegant candlesticks that are more art than object.
- Give vintage china a whirl. Not sure what to do with those one-of-a-kind ceramics or various decorative dishes you love to pick up at estate sales? Rescue them from the back of the kitchen cabinet and display them on your shelves.
- Give plants the green light. Display simple greenery for a natural element or fresh flowers for pops of color. Place little plants on stacks of books and perch trailing house plants on the top shelf and let the vines spill over the edge.
Now that you know how to decorate bookshelves, you need the right place for the perfect shelfie! Find apartments with built-in shelves (or apartments big enough for all your bookshelves) with ApartmentSearch. Filter your search by zip code, rent, amenities, and more!