Tips and Tricks for Styling a Bookcase
Styling a bookcase or open shelf seems to intimidate many, and with good reason, if I am being honest. Incorporating a large bookcase, framed in shelving, kitchen open shelving, etc., is a great way to display unique pieces and collections. However; if you aren’t careful, those open shelves can appear cluttered and unbalanced.
It took me years to combat the art of styling a bookcase. In this post, I am sharing tips and tricks for styling a bookcase that will hopefully leave you feeling more confident.
In terms of styling a bookcase, I like to decorate from top to bottom. Gather together larger items, such as pots, vases, larger baskets, or architectural sculptures. I suggest using a larger, substantial item to stand alone on the top shelf. Not only will this single piece set a pattern, but also add balance. These stand alone pieces can be added in throughout the design.
- If you have a smaller vessel, stack it on top of a stack of books to create the illusion of a larger piece. See example on the far left and far right of my bookcase.
Create small groupings called, vignettes, with an odd number of items. It is okay to combine just two items together, just stagger them so they aren’t right on top of one another. I like to incorporate different heights in those cases too.
- A stack of three books can act as a single element, so the actual number of items used may not equal an odd number, does that make sense? See middle bookshelf, third shelf down.
Baskets, plants, and books!! Repeat these as many times as needed! All three are available in different shapes and sizes, provide texture, and height when needed. Plants will also add a pop of similar color throughout.
Seek out inspiration! Pinterest is a great place to save examples that speak to you. We are all unique in our taste, so what you would like displayed on open shelves may not be what I would feature. You can still gather inspiration by looking past the objects and focus on the overall pattern and layout of the styling. There are plenty of people out there who enjoy more items grouped together than not. There are also those who prefer an even more minimal look than the shelves I have styled here. Once you find your inspiration, SHOP YOUR HOME for pieces that will help you mimic the overall look of your inspiration picture.
Give it a good look when you are finished and tweak! Maybe a certain spot needs to be added to or subtracted from. I can’t tell you how many times I tweak a space before I am satisfied with the result. (Until, I feel the urge to start all over)!!
I hope my tips and tricks to styling a bookcase helps you the next time you find yourself in a styling rut ;). Let me know if you have any questions, and as always, THANK YOU for being here!
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Author and photos – Martha Knake
Chief Editor – Emily Schunke