7 simple steps for decorating bookcases
Do you ever wonder exactly what to put on your shelves? And how exactly to style what you are putting on your shelves? Well, you have come to the right place! Whether you have built-in bookcases, open shelving or a small bookshelf, these 7 simple steps will help you to decorate a bookshelf of any kind!
Ready to decorate a bookshelf?
1. start with bare shelves
The first step in decorating shelves is super important. Even if I know I will be using a specific piece of decor, I always remove everything and start with empty bookshelves.
It always helps me to also make piles of like items before I start. For instance, I will stack artwork together, family photos together, similar-sized pots together, etc. This makes it easier to find items when styling.
2. use books to decorate a bookshelf
After cleaning off my shelves, I always start with books.
Ok, this may seem like an obvious one, but I can’t write a how to decorate your shelves blog post without including it, am I right?!?
We have almost all of our books behind the closed doors you see above, but I still like to add a few decorative books to my shelves.
They are such an easy way to fill up a shelf and add height and dimension at the same time.
As you can see from the above photo, I like to stack the books vertically as well as horizontally, and sprinkle them throughout the shelves. Later on, I will top some of the books with decorative objects.
If you have a single open shelf or small bookcase, add one stack vertically, and depending on the size, maybe another stack horizontally.
I use vintage books, fabric covered books as well as home decor books when decorating bookcases and shelves.
You can read all about my favorite decorative books & how I style them throughout my home here: The Best Coffee Table Books & How To Style Them
p.s. if you have a lot of books to add to your shelves, Room For Tuesday has a great blog post on it that you can find here: 10 tips for shelf styling with lots of books.
3. add art & photos as bookcase decor
After adding books, I layer in artwork and family photos.
Art prints are such a simple way to add seasonal decor when decorating a bookshelf! I switch out my artwork every few months, which gives my shelves a brand-new look!
Curious where I find my art prints? You can read all about it here: Where To Buy Artwork For The Home
I love to display our family photos on our shelves as well. It’s a fun way to add personality to your bookcases.
4. add large-scale items to your wall shelves
Next, I add large-scale items to my built-in shelves.
Large items like oversized vases, pots & baskets are such a great way to quickly fill up a shelf!
Tip- If I style a large item on one shelf, I usually won’t style another directly next to or below it. Think of spreading them out, and you can fill in with smaller items as you go.
p.s. later on, I will add flowers and greenery to some of the vases.
5. add functional storage as bookshelf decor
Another great styling item to use for styling bookcases is functional decor like baskets.
In my office, I love to style lidded baskets and canisters filled with extra office supplies.
You can also fill baskets on your shelves with kitchen items, kids’ items, crafting items, etc. depending on where your shelves are located.
6. fill in your wall shelf with smaller items
After adding larger items like pots & baskets, I like to sprinkle in smaller pieces of decor like small vases & pots; decorative objects; candles & small boxes.
These smaller objects make the perfect book-toppers! I also love to use small vases & boxes as bookends!
Tip- think about scale when placing these items. Don’t place a row of small items together, but instead place them in front or next to a larger item, or like I mentioned above, add height to the vignette by placing a small item on a stack of books.
For me, shelf decorating is all about adding in different heights and layers that will in turn add interest to your space. You don’t want a shelf with all one item, or all one level of items.
7. use greenery & flowers when shelf decorating
The number 7 tip I have to help you decorate a bookshelf is to add in fresh and/or faux greenery and flowers to some of your pots and vases.
During the spring and summer months I almost always have fresh flowers styled on my shelves. But come fall & winter I go faux for most of them!
I usually step back and look at my shelves before placing the last pieces of decor. If I find a shelf looks bare or needs some added height, I will fill the vase with greenery or flowers.
Tip- if you have a small faux plant, add it to a vase or pot filled with coasters to prop it up! The plant will appear much more substantial! The plant in the bottom left of the photo above is actually quite small, but I have it propped up on coasters!
Curious about our built-in shelves? They are an IKEA hack, and you can read all about them here: IKEA Billy Bookcase Hack – Wall Of Built-ins
You can shop the rest of my home here.
If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment below!