Indulge Your Shelves: 7 Tips to Styling Your Bookshelves

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to styling shelves and bookcases. For sure, our collection of books is already an adequate display that pleases the eye and tells visitors what kind of persons are the homeowners. Of the wide range of genres and a lot of authors out there, it would not be so hard to tell by the kind of books we display.

But those were the old days.

In our time, aside from stashing our novels and nonfictions on them, we use our bookshelves as spaces where we display everything, including our family photos, artworks, keepsakes, and other ornaments.

We like to turn them into a multi-functional piece of furniture without losing its authenticity. We also love to be creative and unique in the way we arrange our books to grab the attention of the viewer quickly.

The good thing is, there’s no budget-breaking and high maintenance approach when it comes to decorating your bookshelves. What’s important is to strike the right balance between form and function. To help you in this, here are some tips on how to style your bookshelves.

Find the Perfect Pair

Before you worry about how to arrange your books on your bookshelves, consider first the placement of your bookshelves themselves. Placing two identical bookshelves next to each other will give you the perfect space to arrange your books properly.

Display Your Collections (Aside from Books!)


Whatever you’re collecting – be it shells, figurines, glasses, and teacups – it deserves a place in your home. What’s best with collections is that different colors, shapes, and sizes play off with each other. You can reserve at least one shelf for it, and the rest you can have for your books.

Create a Backdrop

If you think of something that adds depth and a burst of color, consider placing a piece of painting or a wallpaper at the background of your shelves. For optimum effect, go with a darker shade than the shelves themselves.

Avoid Overstuffing

Keeping your things on the bookshelf to a minimum is important. The basic rule of thumb is one-third books, one-third ornaments, and one-third space per shelf. You can arrange 60% of the books vertically and 40% horizontally to strike a balance.

Arrange Books by Color


This style of organizing books has been around for quite a while, but arranging your books by their colors can give your bookshelf a visual impact. The standard color scheme is the rainbow-hued arrangement. But it’s all up to you what color scheme suits your taste.

Don’t Forget the Tops

If you want to highlight tall ceilings or provide a place for your big pieces that won’t fit on the shelves below, the best option is to put them on top. You can put your large posters or artworks there to add height to your decorative shelves.

Add Lights


To top it off, spotlight the style you’ve created for your bookshelves by adding lights. There are a lot of lighting options out there. You can mount a track lighting to highlight a few spots on your displays, install small puck lights to the underside of a shelf to focus on the contents of the shelf below, or affix a series of picture lights above a series of shelves.


Styling your bookshelves will still depend on your taste. As I’ve said, there are no hard and fast rules. The tips mentioned above are just there to get you started. What matters is that to create and follow a style that suits you best. And the best is still to make your own.


Andy Lim

Andy Lim is a freelance blogger. Among her interests in life are writing and reading books. Her forte is on lifestyle and home improvement, with Temple and Webster as her source of the latest home improvement products out there.


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