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5 Easy Tips for Styling A Bookcase With Objects Other than Books

by - Wednesday, March 09, 2016

When it comes to decorating, there's a few things that come naturally to me. Styling is not one of them. A blank bookcase or shelf can be daunting! I'd love to have the skills of Emily Henderson and be able to confidently put accessories together in an effortless and attractive way. But, at least for me, it's one of those things I need to work and practice at.

How do you style a bookcase?

There are a few guidelines I follow though that help me get through my styling paralysis. Having rules to lean on helps me get started when I don't know where to start. Here's 5 Easy Tips for Styling A Bookcase:

how to style a bookcase, how to decorate a bookshelf with objects other than books

What kind of objects can you use on a bookshelf other than books? Typical accessories include small pieces of art, figurines, vases with flowers, decorative boxes or baskets, and small objects likes candles or jars. But really, most anything that will fit on the shelf can be used. 

It's not the object itself, but how it's placed in relation to other objects that makes the entire bookshelf composition look 'beautiful'.

1. Pick A Palette

Your bookcase will look harmonious if there is a general colour story woven through the objects. I like to shop my house and gather all the accessories that could be used on the bookcase. Once I see them in a group, the colour might palette might be obvious. I like to stick to three colours maximum plus a metal. In my bookcase, you'll see I used mainly white, black, green, and hits of gold.

2. Start At The Back

Start by thinking of your bookcase - do you want it to recede and act as a backdrop to your objects, or do want it to be prominent and provide texture, contrast, or pattern? If you want interest, paint the back of your bookcase in a bold colour or add patterned wallpaper. In my case, I wanted the objects to pop and I wanted to add a bit of a country feel so I used a beadboard backing painted in a light grey. This really helped to put the spotlight on the objects themselves.

3. Find Your Anchors

I start by placing anchor pieces, the larger pieces which take up significant space on your shelf and grab your attention.

Place them evenly and strategically throughout the bookcase. I generally like having anchors in a zig-zag pattern so that your eye moves throughout the entire display. Too many anchors on one side or on one shelf will make the display feel unbalanced.

how to style a bookcase, how to decorate a bookshelf with objects other than books

4. Think Vertically and Horizontally

Your shelves should have a mix of objects that are tall and vertical and wide and horizontal. Books laid flat, trays or baskets, and small decorative boxes are great ways to add horizontal planes. Vary the heights as well. Stack objects to make them taller or place small objects on top of larger ones to keep it interesting.

5. Layer Front to Back

Add dimension to your display by placing some objects in front and others in back. Placing small objects around or in front of your anchors is an easy way to do this. Creating an overlap of objects, with some objects touching or almost touching, creates continuity and prevents any large gaps in your display. For instance, the Hello sign on my bottom shelf physically connects the plants with the bookends and makes that shelf feel much more complete.

How To Style A Bookcase

I won't tell you how many attempts it took to get the shelves looking this way. There's still room for improvement but I'm generally happy with the flow and aesthetic. And if not, I can always restyle them!

Tell me, do you suffer from styling paralysis? How do you overcome it?

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