How to use art, books and accessories to Style Your Bookcase


I love books. I love old books and new books and bookstores and the smell of books and you can tell because they are all over our house. One of the main components that I wanted when we bought our place completely as a blank canvas, ready to be designed, was a floor to ceiling bookshelf *with a rolling ladder*! Since the ceilings are 24 feet high, that didn't happen, but I did get one that was 13 feet high *with a rolling ladder*!

When you look for ideas for bookcase styling, you come across a lot of really clean pictures of interesting objects interspersed with coffee table books. It's a beautiful thing, and I love it, but it doesn't really work when you have actual books (lots of them) and you want to have a beautiful but still interesting and stylish bookcase.

We have two bookcases, the really big one in the living room, and a smaller, behind the couch version in the entry way that separates our really long and narrow front room. Here are my ideas for arranging your books and objects on both:

For a larger, more traditional bookcase:

  • Organize your books before you start shelving them. Group them into sizes, colors, older, newer, etc, and then put them into piles with a little from each section in each pile. This will help to keep things looking uniform and your eye will find focal points without getting stuck.
  • Use decorative objects. I love clocks, small lamps, vases, boxes, trays, sculptures, bookends and sentimental momentos. For example, in several places, I have a little sculpture that my daughter made in elementary school,  a candlestick that my mom gave my that was always in our house growing up, and glass boxes full of reminders of trips and special moments. I use decorative trays to keep remotes and all that fun stuff out of sight and in one easily accessible place.
  • Use art. Small art is the best for this! I mix styles and sizes and shapes, mediums and artists. One of my favorite paintings that my daughter did as a child is shown below, and a small watercolor by me is shown above.
  • Use photographs. I picked family pictures, candid shots, times with friends, art shows, and favorite vacations for mine. I then chose several square, landscape, and portrait frames in a variety of complimenting styles.
  • Once you have all of your items, before placing them on the shelves, make sure that you are spacing things out. You don't want to have all the art together in one spot and same goes for the other items. Put some photos with books, mix up your frames and shapes, and fill in with the smaller objects.
  • Lay some  books on their sides to create interesting patterns. I even propped some of mine up bookstore style if the cover was especially interesting.

For a smaller, more decorative bookcase:

  • Choose your most interesting and eye pleasing books for this shelf. Since there are not as many, you'll be able to see them better. The stacks should be smaller and more spaced out.
  • If it's an open bookcase with plenty of light, try using plants in your arrangements.
  • The same rule for laying some of the books on their sides and showing the cover applies here as well.

Shop this post:

Mini Abacus Table Lamp // Decorative Glass Boxes // Decorative Wood and Marble Box // Pucci Book // Peace Sign Hand Sculpture // (similar) Face Planter // Vintage French Books // Gold Frames // Easel Frame // Vitrelux Glass Vases // Cloche Clock // Faceted Terrarium // Grey Enamel Frames

If I missed an item you see in my photos, email me and I'll fill you in!

Shop my art in this post