Tips for Styling a Bookcase Like an Interior Designer

The bookcase. It’s functional by maximizing space and aesthetically pleasing by adding height to balance out a room. The bookcase is also not just for books. It is a wonderful place to add treasures that personalize your space. Here are some tips on how to style a bookcase.
A Clean Start
Remove all items from your shelves. Store or donate unsightly paperback books.

The study above,designed by Carrier and Company Interiors Ltd., is a beautiful example of how a bookcases help maximize a space, while adding height for overall balance.
Add a Splash of Color
For visual interest, back your shelves with a contrasting wallpaper print or colorful paint. This gorgeous bookcase by Samantha Pynn
{decorator, stylist and host and principal designer of Pure Design on HGTV} is backed with Schumacher’s Imperial Trellis by Kelly Wearstler  in Charcoal.

Some Up and Some Down

Books can be wonderful home accessories, so showcase the most beautiful ones in your collection. Arrange the books by size, subject and color. Create a rhythmic pattern by placing books vertically as well as horizontally {horizontal books can also act as bookends}. I love how designer, Molly Luetkmeyer of M. Design Interiors arranged the books and accessories in the built-in bookshelf above.
Make it Pretty
Adding objects such as shapely ceramics, decorative boxes, small sculptures, family photos and original artwork makes your bookcase more visually interesting and personal. When selecting objects, be aware of the scale and color. Objects shouldn’t blend in or get lost on the shelves. Here is an example of beautiful bookcases flanking a fireplace from Elle Decor  {May 2008} that showcase more decorative objects than books.  It makes me think that “Bookless” bookshelves may  show up more often as people go high tech and move to the Kindle or iPad to read books. What do you think? Do you like the look? 
Tips for Styling a Bookshelf
*images courtesy of Splendid Willow, Carrier and Company Interiors, Samantha Pynn Inc., M. Design Interiors, Good Bones, Great Pieces
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27 Responses to Tips for Styling a Bookcase Like an Interior Designer

  1. alamodeMaven April 1, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    I'm dying over the imperial trellis wallpaper behind the bookcase. LOVE. Do you think it would be over the top to put wallpaper behind this bookcase? I'm itching to do it. The hubs will probably shoot me. xoxo, Shelli

  2. Bromeliad March 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    Great photos and tips.

    The most important principle is – is there room for my feet?

  3. tale of many cities February 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    absolutely LOVE the wallpaper idea! great blog!! {new fan!} 🙂

  4. Inspire Me Heather February 1, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Fantastic post and great ideas… I linked it to my “bookshelves” project post too, come on over and check it out!

  5. Debbie Mendes September 10, 2010 at 5:32 am #

    Finally!! I've been looking for a post like this forever! Lots of great ideas.

  6. Jhon June 28, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. loft32 June 20, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    Love your blog!

    The Imperial Trellis wallpaper behind the white shelving is amazing! I might just have to steal this look for my office! I used a similar wallpaper, but by Osborne and Little, in my bathroom. Take a peak…

  8. Hilton June 9, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Great tips. I love books, the design, to feel, smell the pages, print, paper and the size. Then there is the genius behind the finished book. Kindle and Sony are great…….

  9. -Julie June 2, 2010 at 3:38 am #

    Great post!

  10. casey at loft and cottage May 26, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    Great tips, Cristin. The images are beautiful too–perfect examples for your tips. This is a post I'll be coming back to!

  11. Velvet and Linen May 26, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    Great tips, Cristin! I love finding unique items to mix in with my books. Painting the backs of the shelves of fun color makes everything pop.


  12. AK-Magnolia House May 25, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    Wonderful post and blog! I am proud to be your 500 and first follower! You must be thrilled to have so many people following along. Good for you! We have very similar taste so I look forward to reading your next post.
    AK xo

  13. Susan May 25, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    I like them all but the first one is most appealing to me because of how uncluttered it looks even with all that stuff. And the table in that image is amazing.

  14. May 25, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Great ideas! I've arranged our books by color, so Domino's book of decorating is next to my husband's college physics text book! I also added in some knick-knacks from our travels to add additional visual interest.

  15. CDS May 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    I love love love it when built in bookshelves have a different color paint as their background tone. Thanks for the tips!

  16. Rene' May 25, 2010 at 4:54 am #

    Love it!!

  17. Kelle Dame May 25, 2010 at 3:41 am #

    Thanks for the tips. I'm gonna save this post for when I actually have some bookshelves. Better yet, I'm gonna send the link to my hubby and hope it gives him the motivation to get going on the built-in project! A girl can dream 🙂

  18. Sophie May 25, 2010 at 1:36 am #

    great post!

  19. Averill May 24, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    Some great ideas, Cristin. I'll be bookmarking this post to come back to once we get our built-ins finished.

  20. Bailey May 24, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    Shelves con imperial trellis…rawr

  21. 2 by Design May 24, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    That first image is allllll kinds of amazing. I'm always so torn about filled bookcases. I live in the land of built-ins and find myself on the fence between showcasing all my “treasures” and keeping things mellow and sparse. These shots, though, make me want to expose myself completely. Hmmm, in a good way, that is.

  22. The Zhush May 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    Such a timely piece for me…seriously considering redoing all the arrangements on our bookcases here…may even try the color coded book thing! Thanks.

  23. Hello Lover... May 24, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Nothing beats a well styled bookcase – love these examples!

  24. Kathysue May 24, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    Cristin, I like books on bookshelves mixed with decorative and textural items for interest. These are all great examples of what can work. Great post, Kathysue

  25. Laura Trevey May 24, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Fabulous post!!

  26. Centsational Girl May 24, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    Perfect examples of how bookcases need not be dust collectors, but style statements ! Love love love.


  27. pk @ Room Remix May 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    Great tips, Cristin! Hope you had a good weekend…