Do you feel overwhelmed at the thought of styling a whole bookcase or set of bookshelves? I get it. Bookcases can be tricky to style and accessorize. Think about it. There are multiple shelves, which involve a lot of accessories and options. It’s a lot of space to fill.
What should you include? Where should you put things? How many accessories should you add? How do you know what looks good? These are all common questions. So keep reading and we’ll tackle some of these common bookcase frustrations so you can finally feel confident about styling your own bookcase or bookshelves.
Be patient and experiment when
you style a bookcase
I just want to start by saying that bookcase styling takes time and practice. There are endless possibilities that you could do. So, my first advice is to give yourself the gift of patience. Know that the “perfect” layout might take a little time and you’ll likely have to play around for a bit.
When you have an empty bookcase to style, I recommend buying a variety of things (way more than you think you’ll need). Then play around with layouts. Just make sure you hold onto your receipts for any returns you might have for items you don’t use.
When you style your bookcase vary the texture, size, and type of decor
Bookcases have the space to hold a lot of accessories. You’ll want to mix things up by including a variety of pieces such as vases, decorative boxes, books, picture frames, trays, plants and interesting objects. Mixing and combining different types of accessories creates visual interest and layers that will give you a better end result.
As you look at all your accessories, make sure you have a variety of sizes and textures. What I mean by including different textures is including a combination of objects that are smooth, polished, have a matte finish, wood, glass, stone, etc.. It’s all about creating that visual interest. You also want to include accessories at different heights so your eyes will naturally move around to different parts of your bookcase.
Follow the rule of three
I’ve mentioned the rule of three throughout my “how to style” series of blog posts (about end tables, coffee tables, and console tables) because it’s a helpful style rule in interior design. In a nutshell, the rule of three suggests that things grouped in threes are more natural, harmonious and visually appealing. Odd numbers challenge our brains a bit and are more interesting. Our eyes are naturally drawn to groups of three.
So as you style your bookcase, be sure to add groupings of three. In addition, it’s good to add other objects in pairs or even a single object to add variety so you don’t have an entire bookcase filled with groups of three.
Create a visual triangle
A visual triangle is arranging your decor to create a triangle. As I mentioned above you want objects at a variety of heights to create the top and lower points of the triangle. If this is confusing-don’t worry this picture should help. The three different heights create your three triangle points.
When you style a bookcase, you can also create visual triangles that carry across the whole bookcase. For example, you might add pairs of picture frames spread out in three different sections of your bookcase. Those pairs of frames can create a visual triangle that your eyes will travel to. If this feels overwhelming-don’t worry this picture should help clear things up.
Leave negative space
as you style your bookcase
Negative space is basically empty space. You want to leave some blank, empty space in your bookcase so it’s not overcrowded. While you need something on every shelf, don’t overfill every space on the shelf. The empty spaces will actually help highlight the accessories you have on your bookcase. You can fill up some shelves with more accessories, but make sure the shelf to the side or above/below has plenty of negative space so it doesn’t look cluttered.
on how to style a bookcase
Now when you style a bookcase there’s no need for your head to spin. Bookcases are the most complicated when it comes to styling and accessorizing, but I know you can do it. Just refer back to this post if you get stuck. Remember what I said at the beginning-be patient and play around with different layouts.
My Ultimate Interior Design Cheat Sheet Bundle has four super handy and free “how to” style guides to help you style your bookcases, end tables, coffee tables, and console tables. Be sure to download it here!
Alright, this concludes my four part “Back to School” style series. If you want to see more style ides you can head over to my Pinterest page for more inspiration.