How to Style Your Bookshelves: 8 Styling Tips

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How to style bookshelves

Styling bookshelves and bookcases is an art. For someone like me – who dreams of being a minimalist but loves collecting books, plants, and treasures – bookshelves offer a great way to display my most-loved belongings in a way that still feels purposeful and organized.

Find inspiration for styling your own bookshelves and bookcases with tips and ideas below!

bookshelf styled with paint
Image source: The Zhush

Add some background color

Whether your bookshelf has a back or it’s open and against a wall – considering adding some background color to ground your shelves. Paint or wallpaper can add a pop behind the objects you use to style your bookcase.

bookshelf filled with organized books
Image source: Thistle Harvest

Start with books

When styling your bookshelves, start with your largest items first. This can also include books, which can be stacked horizontally, grouped with bookends, or even used as a base for other items to sit on.

styled bookshelf with clustered groups
Image source: Studio McGee

Cluster objects in groups

Make sure you’re considering how to style each shelf as its own vignette by grouping objects when styling bookshelves. Odd clusters are always pleasing, along with mixing large and small objects, or objects of different materials.

bookshelf with artwork
Image source: Mango Design Co

Layer in artwork

Add artwork in your bookcases as a large focal point, and mix different objects around each piece to ground it in the space.

bookshelf with plants and cameras

Bring natural elements inside

Add texture by bringing in organic materials to style your bookshelves.

Plants with long vines like pothos or ivy can add an interesting shape by hanging down past multiple shelves, while smaller potted plants can add greenery to your shelves. Even airplants can be popped into small spaces!

Rocks, crystals, shells, or antlers can be placed in their own space, grouped in a bowl, or even set on top of book stacks like a paperweight.

bookshelf with books and artwork
Image source: Better Homes & Garden

Add decorative shapes and forms

Think about the different shapes you can create with stacks of books, artwork, and individual or groups objects when styling your bookshelves.

bookshelf with mirrored discoball

Use metal to add shine

Adding a disco ball or other reflective objects can create gorgeous reflections of light in the room when sunlight hits your bookshelves.

bookshelf organized by color
Image source: SF Girl by Bay

Group by color

Put objects and books with similar color schemes together when styling your shelves for an effect that adds cohesion to the any collection of objects.