Bookshelf Styling: What to Do With that Daunting Bookshelf?

Bookshelf Styling: What to Do With that Daunting Bookshelf?

Styling a bookshelf can seem like a tricky task…

…but it can be a home run with these helpful tips!

I’ll take you through some common items many people use to decorate, along with useful methods for styling the shelves and guidance on your shopping trip to ensure you knock it out of the park.

6 Common (and Not So Common!) Items for Bookshelf Styling

1. Picture Frames and Leaning Art

Begin with your favorite to create a visual focal point, then fill in the surrounding with additional pieces.

2. Pottery, Vases, or Bowls

Think about the color palette you hope to achieve, while keeping in mind the size and shape of the pieces as well as the texture, and finish.

Bookshelf Styling Vases Accessories

3. Books

Use a variety! Consider the size, cover, and arrangement. You may choose to expose the book spine or the pages. They can also be stood up or laid down to elevate another decorative object.

4. Plants

You can go with faux or real but consider the sunlight that will reach the shelf. Faux plants will only require a light dusting from time to time.

5. Decorative Objects

This can include a sculpture, figurine, bookends, candlesticks, or your favorite piece, and it helps to create additional visual interest.

6. Simple, Large Baskets/Stacked Boxes

Create balance with scale. A larger, simple item can offset a busier shelf nearby that may feature multiple smaller items.

Bookshelf Accessorizing Styling Julia Lewis Interiors

Tips for Styling the Shelves

Choose a Color Palette

Focus on 2-3 tones with neutrals spread out among shelves. Evenly distribute colorful pieces filling in with the neutrals.

Plan Your Layout

The key is to balance with opposites. Mix large items with small or group multiple smaller items together. Alternate in scale as you move from shelf to shelf.

Group in Odd Numbers

Groups of 3 or 5 work best. They tend to feel more organic and less like they need to be symmetrical, making it easier on the eye.

Vary Your Heights

Mix vertical and horizontal. Different heights help your eye flow freely as you visually wander through the interesting items on display.


Add depth and unity by layering heights and additional textures.

How To Style A Bookshelf Julia Lewis Interior Design 1

Let’s Get Started! Your Checklist:

✔ Settle on Your Color Palette

Select 2-3 tones with neutrals.

✔ Make the Shopping List of Items You Want to Include

Refer to the common items list for pieces to accompany existing objects you may have.

✔ Determine the Shelf Heights

It is good to know this in advance. You do not want to buy the perfect item that is too tall for your shelf.

✔ Diagram Shelf Layouts

This can give you an idea of what the finished design will look like as you consider item heights and sizes.

✔ Shop!

While shopping, you can try out the arrangements, to see if they align with your vision.

I hope you find this information helpful as you style away! Need some help? Contact us!

1 Comment
  • Carol Richards
    | 11 April 2021

    Hi Julia, your website looks great, although that thumbs up is from a newbie to such sites. Good luck!

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