9 Brilliant Ways on How to Style a Bookshelf Like a Pro

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Take your #shelfie game from average to amazing with these ideas on how to style a bookshelf with Insta-worthy precision.

Creating your own reading nook is a dream come true, but organizing and styling your bookshelf is a nightmare. As a bookworm and design enthusiast, there’s nothing I love more than an Insta-worthy bookshelf. However, how do you really achieve that shelfie-ready bookshelf that will add life and character to a room? A place to show off your book collection? Curious? Keep reading to learn these brilliant tips from interior experts on how to style a bookshelf of any size.

Step 1: Start With a Blank Slate

Yes, the first tip is a bit “Duh? I know that.“, but most of you will add and rearrange everything on your bookshelf without dusting the items. So, remove everything and clean your bookshelf. Trust us, this will help you visualize on how to style your bookshelf. Get rid of any clutter that should be thrown out or follow Marie Kondo’s advice: only keep items that bring you joy, and donate anything that may still be good but you just no longer love.

Step 2: (Optional) Paint/Wallpaper Your Bookshelf

Well, this step on how to style your bookshelf is optional, but designer Amber Lewis recommends that before you start styling, paint your bookcase white because it’s the perfect backdrop to display anything on. You can also opt for mirror wall stickers or wallpaper to add character to your bookshelf.

Step 3: Start With Larger Items First

You must have thought that we’re going to start with books, huh? No, before we add your Harry Potter collection, we will start by styling accessories in your bookshelf. We suggest giving your shelf a little height—high and low items. Also, it’s important to mix up the shapes, sizes, and textures of your decorative objects to make your bookshelf really shine.

For example, a classic chinoiserie vase, ginger jar, and a scented candle on a wooden tray will make a perfect trio on your shelf. Remember, it’s best to follow the rule of three if you’re not sure how to style a bookshelf. Also, grouping decor items is the best way to avoid your shelf from looking cluttered.

  1. 3 Piece Neace Gray Terracotta Table Vase Set | 2. Painted Elza Vase | 3. Blue & White Chinoiserie Collection | 4. Glazed Terra Cotta Vase Set Gray | 5. Female Form Vase | 6. Tall Two Tone Woven Twine Organic Ceramic Vase

Step 4: Display Artwork

Of course, a bookshelf wouldn’t be Insta-worthy if you don’t bring in some artwork. It doesn’t have to be expensive. If you love it, then display it. You can simply print free art online and frame it. Plus, the best part is that you can easily change the displayed art or print every season or whenever you feel like it.

Style Curator suggested considering placing artwork towards the back of the shelf and layer smaller decorative items in front to create interest.

  1. Blue Bliss – 5 Piece Wrapped Canvas Graphic Art Print Set | 2. Kanga Wall Art | 3. Tile Patterns Art | 4. I Saw Her In the Library Framed Art Print | 5. Alja Horvat UO Exclusive You Are Magical Art Print | 6. Round Vintage Butterfly Kaleidoscope Framed Wall Art

Step 5: Hit the Books

Yes, FINALLY! We’re going to add your beautiful books. After all, no bookshelf is complete without them. There are different ways to style your books like aligning them to the center, left, and right, color grouping, and stacking books horizontally and vertically to create a bit of visual interest. You can also organize your books by author, genre, size, and subject.

If you want to achieve an Insta-worthy shelf, mix up the positioning of books and piles. This will create a ‘balanced’ look on your bookshelf, and it will make your shelf look chic.

For example, I love to style my bookshelf with books that look best, so I pay special attention to the spine. If the book’s spine doesn’t look appealing, I suggest that you take off the book jacket or turn the books around, so the pages show instead of the spines. Then, I add a decorative bookend or object on top to make it look more stylish.

Step 6: Add Accessories

Here comes the fun part—the accessories. Yes, it’s one of the secrets on how to style a bookshelf that’s Insta-worthy. The decorative objects will depend on your interior style. If you’re a mid-century modern lover, then you can use an old typewriter. If you’re a minimalist or a Scandi lover, then you can opt for concrete décor.

One Kings Lane recommends choosing one impactful object per shelf. This will serve as your focal point and anchor as you build out each shelf vignette. Also, don’t be afraid to play around with the items. It’s a process of trial and error until you achieve the look/style that you want.

  1. 3 Piece Foulks Fiberstone Sign Language Hand Décor Set | 2. Wise Owl Book Ends | 3. Sea Urchin | 4. Marine Brass Trays (Set of 3) | 5. Natural Frame with Stand Brown | 6. White Globe On Gold Stand

Step 7: Lots of Greenery

We all know that indoor plants help improve air quality. However, they also add a pop of life to your home. So, add large or small plants in your bookshelf. It’s best if you add plants that drape or hang down since it makes the whole shelf look interesting. Plus, you can mix different pot styles like brass, ceramic, and terrazzo pot, as well. If you don’t have a green thumb, you can opt for artificial plants or low maintenance plants.

  1. Cream/Brown Pamella 2-Piece Stoneware Pot Planter Set | 2. Grecian Bust Pot | 3. Bunny Williams Beaded Brass Cachepot | 4. Outdoor Patio Planter | 5. Sloth 4” Planter | 6. Gray Terrazzo Planter

Step 8: Mix It Up

Or layer up. One of the fun parts on how to style a bookshelf is having a healthy mix of different items like books, collections, plants, sculptures, vases, etc. Fill out the space that you think needs to be filled. Kathy Kuo Home advised using organic materials for a refreshing look like beautiful seashells, candles, or a jar of pine cones.

However, don’t be afraid of open space. Live Abode by Royal Building Products said to strategically incorporate open space in your bookshelf since it shows that the pieces are carefully selected.

Step 9: Stand Back and Edit

Our last step on how to style a bookshelf and the most important step is to stand back and edit. Does it look bland or overcrowded? Do you need to move things around to make it look balanced? Or do you need to lessen the decorative objects and create a little negative space to make it look better? Take time to style and edit your bookshelf until everything falls into place.

That’s a wrap on how to style a bookshelf that’s Insta-worthy. Learn more interior design tips and ideas on Omysa’s blog. Happy decorating!

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