Bookshelf Styling 101

Are your bookshelves an eyesore? Check out these 8 tips from Domestic CEO that will help you make your bookshelves stylish, chic, and functional.

Amanda Thomas
5-minute read
Episode #96

Bookshelves are a piece of furniture that can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing portion, of course, is that you can store a lot of stuff on your bookshelves. The curse? If your bookshelf is so crammed full of your belongings, it just looks like a giant mess and quite frankly, it becomes a big eyesore in the room.

Today I have 8 tips for utilizing this fantastic storage piece without sacrificing style. Within just a few hours, you can transform your messy shelves into design-savvy works of art!>

The first order of business is to remove everything from your bookshelves. Sort items into piles of similar things. When I cleared out my bookshelf, I wound up with groups of books, personal pictures, collectibles (mine are figurines), storage boxes, candles, and other small knick-knacks.  As I did my sorting, there were a few books and other things that I decided didn’t need to be saved anymore. You may want to do the same thing.  Either move those items to a different room or, if you no longer want them, donate them to your local thrift store.

Now comes the fun part – restocking and styling your bookshelves. I’ll give you 8 tips and ideas so you can personalize your shelves. Select and implement the ideas you like and toss out the rest. If it looks good to you, do it!

Tip #1: Decorate the Shelves

Use wallpaper, craft paper, contact paper, or paint to breathe new life into a tired, old bookshelf. If you’re looking for a quick refresh, try papering just the back wall of the shelves. Use all the same paper or mix and match some coordinating craft papers for an interesting design. You can also add a pop of color by painting the back shelf wall.

Tip #2: Keep the Books Simple

Don’t load shelves with books only. Divide your books in one of three ways: by size, by color, or by subject. It’s totally up to you! Next, take a portion of those books and fill half a shelf with books stacked vertically (like in a library). Then take a few more books and stack them horizontally; right next to the vertical group so this smaller stack serves as a sort of bookend. 

Depending how many books you are storing, you may be able to do this on a number of shelves. Mix it up! Put only horizontal stacks of books on a few shelves and some vertical groupings on another. Be sure to leave room for the little bits and pieces of decor that we’ll use to finish the styling.

Tip #3: Add Artwork

Small artwork adds an eye-catching detail to bookshelves. Whether your art is framed or not, leaning it against the back of the shelf will add another dimension to the design.  If you don’t have any special art, try painting a few empty frames with an eye-popping color and then propping them in the back. This adds a young, playful feel to what could be just some boring old bookshelves.