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How to Style a Bookshelf Like a Pro

Bookshelves are a super functional way to store and display your items, and they also allow for adding dimension to a space. Here are a few of my favorite tips for styling a bookshelf like a pro:


This is a no-brainer, what is a bookshelf without books? I like to use a mix of vertically and horizontally stacked books. If books are particularly worn, I’ll leave them out of the mix or take off the book cover.

Sculptural Pieces

Using sculptural objects to style your bookshelves are a great way to add variety and different textural elements. You could use candlesticks to serve as a balancing object, small sculptural objects on top of the horizontally stacked books, or as bookends against your vertically stacked books, vases, etc. What material these objects are is up to you and your space’s design, but if you have brass accents in your room for example, you could add brass elements to your bookshelf to keep the design cohesive, or use something with a more rough texture to complement that smoothness.


Plants bring a wonderful natural element to book shelves, without being too overpowering. Just be mindful of where your bookshelves are located, and how much light they get! That’ll help determine which plants are suitable for your shelves.



Baskets are a great way to add storage, and can also hide items that you don’t necessarily want on display. If you need more texture, you can opt for a woven basket, which will add warmth as well.


Layering artwork and/or photos is a great way to bring sentimental items into your design. Just be mindful of scale for these items!

General Tips

It’s all about balance. For example, if I have a vertical stack of taller books at one end of the shelf then the other end should be balanced with a taller item that is maybe less voluminous. This will also dictate how the shelves above and below will be styled-- for example the shelf below could be balanced the opposite way. Scale is super important, if you have large objects grouped together at one end, maybe try a smaller-medium sized object that stands alone next to the grouping. If you’re grouping things in front of one another, try to use various sizes of objects so that it doesn’t fall flat. Vary your materials and shapes!

Lastly, the true test is to just take a step back and assess. You don’t want your bookshelf to be too bare or too crowded, and you want it to feel balanced in shapes, sizes and textures. Move things as you see fit! Trial and error will be your friend.




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