Today I’m sharing simple, step-by-step instructions on how to style a built-in bookcase!
But before we get down to all of the details, I want to mention that I have an entire wall of bookshelves, so that’s obviously what I will be sharing and styling below.
However, these steps work for any size shelf or bookcase!
If you have a smaller shelf to decorate or a different type of shelf, you will use fewer items!
But the steps remain the same!
I also want to mention that I keep all of our reading books behind closed doors. This doesn’t have to be the case! If you want to display your books, Room For Tuesday has a great blog post to read.
Let’s get to it!
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1. Start with an empty shelf
Unless of course, you have a sleeping kitty. In that case, go ahead and leave her 😉
I always remove everything from my shelves, even if I know it will be going back on the shelf! I find it easiest to start with a clean slate.
This is also when I gather all of the decor items I may want to use when decorating the shelves. I group like- items together on the floor in front of my shelves, so I have items to grab from. You can read all about the types of items to use when styling shelves here: 8 Items To Use For Simple Shelf Styling.
2. add artwork & personal photos
This is my favorite way to add seasonal touches and color to my shelves! For spring, I bring in more spring-inspired art prints, for fall, fall-inspired, etc.
You can read all about my favorite places to buy/print artwork in this blog post: The Best Places To Buy Artwork Online.
Lastly, read where I print my digital art prints in this blog post: The Best Place For Online Art Printing
3. Add books
Next, I add books. I like to place them vertically as well as horizontally throughout the shelves.
As I mentioned above, we keep all of our reading books in the section of the bookshelf that has doors. You do not need to do the same! I linked a blog post above that will help with this if you are interested!
4. Layer in large objects
For larger items think vases, pots, baskets, and decorative boxes. As you can see above, a little goes a long way with the larger objects! You definitely don’t need a lot of them.
5. Layer in smaller objects
Next, I layer in smaller objects. Think of small vases, candles, bowls, small baskets, little pots, etc.
As you can see from the above photo, I use them in various ways.
I like to add them as book toppers or bookends. Or style them next to a larger object.
6. Add flowers and/or greenery
The last thing I do is add in fresh or faux flowers & greenery!
Add flowers to a small vase that you are using as a bookend. Or, add faux greenery to a large or small vase or pot.
Depending on the season, I like to do it both ways!
the finished bookcase
Tips to remember when styling your shelves:
- Start with empty shelves.
- Spread decor out on the floor that you will be using so you have a good visual of what you are working with. More is more here. You want a good selection to choose from. I usually use about half of the items I pull.
- Vary the size, shapes, colors, and types of items you are using. If you place a large vase or basket, don’t place another large item right above, below, or next to it. Another example: if you have a brass frame leaned vertically, place a black frame placed horizontally near it. This will help balance out the overall feel and look of your shelves.