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Tag: styling a bookcase

Styling a Bookcase

I’ve mentioned here and there that I’ve been working on revamping my faux-stained laminate bookcases, and I can officially say they are done & styled. Take a look…

I LOVE a well-styled bookcase!  A good mix of books, accessories, and personal momentos really brings life and character to a bookcase.

When we moved into our home a couple years ago, I was in a wood-tone state-of-mind, and chose these laminate shelves from Walmart for $99/each.  They are not at all of great quality, but at the time they fit the bill.

before pictures…

Since then, I’ve started transitioning to a whiter and lighter aesthetic.  Once the decision was made to paint the front room a dark navy hue, the dark faux-stained bookcases blended in too much with the dark walls.

With the light green walls, they worked, but not so much now.


White bookcases were a must!  Check out the result.

Huge change right?! I have an awesome How-To Paint Laminate tutorial coming soon, but in the meantime, this post is all about How-To Style a Bookcase.

Let’s break it down.

Steps to Styling a Bookcase

1.  Whether it’s a butt-load of books or simply a few, since it is a bookshelf, books are the best items to start with. Mix em’ up by having some vertical and others horizontal. Layer them on top of each other and in different ways on the various shelves. Then…

2. Add the accessories.  Layer accessories in front of the books, on top of the books,  and/or in between the books.

3. Finish with the details.  Add pictures and/or momentos that make your bookcase unique and personal.

You saw the one finished bookcase above, and here is the other…

Want to see a closer view?  Check out these up-close-and-personal shots…

For the smaller paperback books, I layed them horizontally and in 4 piles with two set back in the center.  Having them set back allows for the layering of accessories in front giving depth and an interesting way to view the books.  I also like leaning pictures on the backs of the bookcases to add a pop of color.

Love my desk chair?  You can learn all about it by clicking here.

I often get asked, Where do you find unique accessories to style the shelves?

Finding accessories that fit your style for a bookcase can sometimes be a challenge.  One of my favorite go-to resources for accessories throughout my home is One Kings Lane.  They have such a diverse selection and variety of accessories and furniture!

Starting today, OKL has teamed up with Martha Stewart to offer an eclectic collection of french inspired decor including furnishings, art, rugs, tabletop, etc. The Entertaining en Provence event – an extension of an article in the September issue of Martha Stewart Living – incorporates colors like pale greens, sages, creams and linens – o so yummy

The sale only lasts for 72 hours, so you’ll want to click on over and check out what Ms. Martha has pulled together.  If you aren’t a member of OKL, no problem – it’s FREE to sign up!

Here’s a sneak peak at a few of the fab items that you’ll see at the One Kings Lane sale

Be sure to click over because you might even see some similar accessories to what I used for my bookcase display.

Here’s one more peak of my newly styled bookcases – I know you can’t get enough, hehe.


What do you display on your bookshelves?  Do you find it difficult to know where to begin and what to display? Where do you find accessories?  Are you a One Kings Lane fan?

Thanks to One Kings Lane for sponsoring today’s post on styling.

How To Achieve a Well Styled Bookcase

There is truly nothing like a well styled bookcase filled with books, accessories, collectibles, and photos that add warmth, intrigue, and uniqueness to a space.  I’ve been doing some styling lately for a few clients, and it’s been so enjoyable to start with a blank slate and build from the ground up by adding different elements and layers to create an engaging and interesting composition.

Whether built-in or freestanding, bookshelves can represent and showcase you and your families passions, interests, and hobbies.  They can make a bare wall go from blah-to-beautiful and make an overall space feel larger and taller.  No matter your budget, a well-styled bookcase can be achieved using random accessories from around your home, discount store finds, collectibles, and do-it-yourself creations.

The key to the overall look is how to pull the accessories together to create an aesthetically pleasing result, yet not add too much so it looks cluttered and not add too little so it appears bare.

So how do you achieve a well styled bookcase?
And how do you create an aesthetically pleasing result?

Let’s take a tour of some amazingly well styled bookcases and dissect ~

This is one of the BEST styled bookcases that I’ve ever seen – by Jennifer of Dimples and Tangles.  It has the perfect balance of books, accessories, collectibles, and pictures. The overall setting is engaging, intriguing, and has just the RIGHT amount – not too much, but not too little.

The key to good balance is layering from front to back and adding elements at varying heights. For instance, let’s take the bottom shelf…  The tray is propped up and leaning on the back of the bookcase.  Layered in front of it, is a horizontal pile of books with a filled bowl on top.  An appropriate balance of books and accessories has been achieved and the differing elements are of varying sizes.

The other interesting part of this bookcase is that two of the shelves on the right side were removed, which allowed for taller accessories to be added.  A tray has been turned into art by adding the ‘&’ symbol and hung at the back of the bookcase.  Layered in front is a slightly turned birdcage, a photo, and a small accessory.  Then behind that is a small pile of books with a slender, yet tall lamp – all creating a balanced composition.

In all, this small space has so much interest! Let’s pick apart another example ~This bookcase styled by Cassie of Hi Sugarplum is another awesome example of how to achieve a well styled bookcase.  Instead of leaving the backs of the bookcase white, a fabric back with a small geometric patten was added, which gives an unexpected and unique pop.  Using the same layering technique that I mentioned before, Cassie has a good balance between books, accessories, and pictures.  There’s not too much or too little of any element.  By adding framed art to the bookcase surround, another layer has been added giving the overall bookcase even more depth than before!

Want to take a look at another example?

Another great example of a well styled bookcase is the wall-to-wall built-in by Kate of Centsational Girl.  After building this bookcase using 4 Ikea Billy bookcases, Kate used her amazing talents to accessorize the entire wall – WOW, what a task!

Instead of wallpapering the bookcase back like Cassie, Kate decided to paint them which allowed for books and accessories (ie: the white vases) to “speak”. Using a combination of horizontal and vertical layed books, Kate layered them with ceramic bowls, vases, diy creations, and personal momentos.  She also added framed art to the backs AND the fronts of the bookcase, which like Cassie’s composition, made the bookcase appear even deeper.

I think you get the picture by now, but here’s a quick recap on the key elements to achieve a well styled bookcase!

  1. Layer – Add elements to the back of the bookcase and continue it to the bookcase frame.
  2. Add Varying Heights – Incorporate elements with varying heights.  Display smaller accessories in front and graduate to taller and larger pieces behind.
  3. Mix it up – Display a mixture of books, accessories, collectibles, DIY creations, and photos
  4. Books Become Art – Books are beautiful.  From their color to their typography, books are truly art, so let them tell a story.  Display them horizontally and vertically, by color, or by subject.

Here are a few more of my favorite well styled bookcases.

White walls and a white bookcase, allow books and accessories to pop – via BHG

The dark painted bookcase back allows for the books and accessories to “have a voice” – via YHL

Even if you have alot of books, alternate their position between laying horizontal and vertical, then add accessories throughout – via The Art of Doing Stuff

A good balance between books, accessories, and photos is key to achieving a well styled bookcase – via Cottage and Vine

This bookcase has a good mixture of accessories at varying heights – via I Suwannee

Books become art!  This well styled bookcase has some leaning books against a high pile behind to show their beautiful covers.  Accessories are added to give scale and break up the monotony – via Lonny Mag

I’ve always loved this bookcase composition and shared it in a previous about creating a dazzling display. This white bookcase was dressed up with the addition of grasscloth wallpaper at the bookcase back.  It adds an unexpected touch to a typical built-in – via Cottage and Vine

The beauty of this bookcase display is the common thread of color in the books and the accessories.  The hues of gold, white, and varying shades of blue create a cohesive composition – via HGTV

This backless bookcase allows for the vibrant wall color to pop through the color coordinated books – via Style at Home

Creating a well styled bookcase can be tricky and a challenge for some, but with practice and patience a beautiful display can be achieved.  If you have no idea where to begin- no problem!  I love styling bookcases, fireplace mantels, tops of cabinetry, and truly any place in the home.  Read more about my Interior Design Services and Contact ME – I’ll be glad to help no matter where you live.

What do you display on your bookshelves?  Do you find it difficult to know where to begin and what to display?