The Unexpected Item Designers Use To Make Bookshelves So Chic

Hint: You already own it.

how to style bookshelves

Interior designers have a knack for making even the most functional of furniture pieces feel a little more chic in a way that feels evasive to the rest of the world. A perfect example of this is the expertly curated bookshelf, with the right amount of color, texture, and variation to make it looked interesting and lived-in without trying too hard. Thankfully their tricks for how to style bookshelves are actually more doable than you may think — and they might not even require you to buy anything new.

Your bookshelf is one of the areas of your home that’s able to share so much of your personality. What you read can speak volumes (pun intended) about your diverse interests and tastes, and according to professional designers, by pairing your book collection with some other items that spark joy, you can tell even more of your personal story (another apt pun) in your shelf styling.

And beyond what you’re actually placing on those shelves, top decorators share that there are a few other tricks that can make your bookcases a statement piece in your home. Taking into consideration the use of color, contrast, and dimension, for example, can make yours stand out for all the right reasons and give your space that personal touch you’ve been craving. Ahead find out what designers say you can do to transform your bookshelves — with a few new additions or by making the most of what you’ve already got — ASAP.

Kaley Elaine Photography for Marian Louise Designs

How To Style Bookshelves: Keep It Colorful

Color is a go-to way to draw the eye, but you you may have noticed your current collection is a little lacking in variety. Thankfully that’s an easy (and affordable) fix, says Mimi Meacham, Founder and Principal Designer of Marian Louise Designs. “Find books in lots of different colors that are on topics that interest you,” she explains. “For example, you can go to antique stores, local boutiques, Half-Price Books, and Etsy to find a variety of different hardback and leather-bound books to decorate with, but I only go for ones that are personal to me or my family and that we would actually read!”

The concept of color also comes into play when it comes to how you make your shelves contrast to their space, shares Amy Leferink, Owner and Principal Designer of Interior Impressions. “Implement items that contrast the background of the bookshelves to make the items stand out more,” she says. “For example, if the bookshelves are white, I’ll make sure to add some darker colored items so they show up better. If the bookshelves are a dark stained wood, I make sure to add white and light colored items.”

How To Style Bookshelves: Add A Personal Touch With Photos

“Always incorporate some personal items that remind the homeowner of happy memories and things they love,” says Leferink. An obvious example of this is personal photos, which Meacham suggests making appear even more special with thoughtful framing. “Invest in good quality, chic, classic picture frame styles to add to your shelves,” she explains. And the designer also recommends including a variety of photos (old and new, different subject matter) for added interest and personality.

How To Style Bookshelves: Liven It Up With Plants

A well-placed plant has the ability to bring in some life to any area of the home — so why not your bookshelf? “Pop in a few potted plants for a lively look,” says Meacham. Afraid of the care required? “Succulents are a great option with minimal upkeep,” she adds.

How To Style Bookshelves: Display Your Travel Treasures

“I collect small souvenirs from our travels that I use to decorate my shelves with,” Meacham says. “They not only level up the design, but also bring back special memories of our trip together. Keep your eyes peeled for colorful coral, beautiful china, or other unique decorative accessories to bring home with you.” And Leferink suggests a mix of old and new when it comes to your curated treasures. “I like to mix in some vintage or antique items to add character and timelessness,” she explains.

How To Style Bookshelves: Hang Artwork For Added Interest

Don’t forget to include some artwork when you’re stying your shelves, Meacham insists. “I love the look of hanging art on the beam of the shelving piece,” she says. “This trick adds dimension to your design and helps to layer in different colors and shapes.”

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