How to Style a Bookshelf

how to style a bookshelf

Affordable White and Glass Bookshelf | Gold Hands Bookends | Gold Burst | Pink and White Pineapple | Prosecco Candle | Shell Vase | Gold Dipped Vases

Ever since we moved last fall, our books have been sitting in boxes in a hall closet. Feeling uninspired and focusing more on other rooms in our home, finding a bookshelf wasn’t at the top of my list. I didn’t think I missed seeing them. That is, until I found this one and decorated it on Sunday afternoon. Hence the post on how to decorate a bookshelf!

After months of having Matt nag me about finding a bookshelf, this project came together surprisingly quickly. Finding the actual shelf took the most time. Decorating it took all of 30 minutes! Bookshelves are great for storage, for displaying all your books, and also for filling up awkward wall space. If you’re sitting there wondering how to style your own, here are some steps and tips to help.

1. Find the right bookshelf for your space.

Since we are still living that apartment life, I needed something that was relatively compact. I didn’t want to invest a lot either since we will ultimately be moving out of this apartment. At which point this piece of furniture probably won’t work with our next space. It always happens that way, right?

I love all things white so I knew this white and glass bookshelf would be easy to incorporate into our existing space, make the room a little brighter, and I loved that the shelves weren’t standard. The zigs and zags make it way more interesting to look at than a regular shelf. It’s also $163 which isn’t bad considering how much this shelf can store! I looked at the wood ones and they were way more expensive!

2. Gather all your pretty things.

So you might be sitting there wondering what I mean. After I had Matt build this shelf, I went around the apartment collecting various items that I thought would go well together. Clearly, I had a theme in mind. That theme was gold, pastel, and pink. So, I grabbed everything that fit that description and set it in front of the bookshelf. Some of my favorites were this gold burst, gold hand bookends, a white urchin, and this pink and white pineapple. Also, always add candles.

Tip: When in doubt, add a vase with fresh flowers! Flowers always make everything look better! Not sure how to arrange them? Check out these 5 tips to create the perfect bouquet

3. Pick out books. 

It wasn’t until I was trying to find all the pastel books that I realized how many books we had that were black. Matt’s complete collection of Batman comics wasn’t exactly “on theme”. Also, don’t judge me for some of the titles on these shelves. I feel like so many books are digital these days that all of these are about a decade old. I was trying to combine my shopaholic self, with my engineering college degree, with Matt’s collection of depressing titles.

If a book has a particularly pretty cover, make sure to put it on top! I’d also recommend investing in a few coffee table books. You know, the kind of books that are as pretty to look at on the outside as on the inside. I feel like Urban Outfitters always has some really quirky interesting reads if that’s more you! Here are my favorites!

Tip: if you aren’t about to buy books for show, turn the books around so the binding is facing the wall. The white pages will brighten up the shelf and you won’t have to worry about the color of the cover. You’ll notice I did this with a few books throughout this bookshelf!

4. Don’t be afraid to use the shelf for practical purposes.

If you have some items that you don’t mind putting on display, don’t hesitate. Purses and shoes come to mind first. I can never seem to find an efficient way to store purses so I can always use more space.

5. If it’s not working, change it up. 

Just because you think you’ve finished, doesn’t mean you have to keep it that way. If you walk by the bookshelf on another day and want to swap 2 things, do it. It’s incredibly hard to get this right the first time. Something might look right to you in one moment but the more you look at it, the more it feels weird. That’s normal! Play around with it. You don’t know until you try it!

Tip: Stack the books in different directions. It makes looking at the bookshelf more interesting to look at. I can count 3 different ways I arranged them here. 

I hope this helps you style your own bookshelf! When in doubt, think of each area as a formula. Pick out an area that you like from my bookshelf and recreate it with the pieces you have. Got a few books, a candle, and a crossbody? Stack it like the photo below! There’s no shame in copying when you’re just starting out.

PS. If you want a more vibrant vibe, checkout this bookshelf I decorated in our old apartment!

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*In partnership with Joss & Main.

33 thoughts on “How to Style a Bookshelf

  1. This is exactly what I’m working on this weekend after I finish painting everything! Love how organized everything is!

  2. Love the different heights of this shelf! That alone adds a lot of visual interest. Also love the pops of gold you added, I’m loving copper these days myself.

  3. This is amazing!!! I have been wanting to do a bookshelf for a while because I love seeing everyone elses style but I have been soooo intimated to try. I feel like there is so many different decor pieces you have to have but I loved how you broke it down to simple steps:)

    xoxo, Hannah

  4. I’ve been wanting to find more pretty tabletop books for my bookshelves in my new cloffice space. They always add something so fun, and it’s great to have them around for inspiration as well!

Let me know what you think!