Decorating TipsInterior Design

How to Style a Bookshelf

Fort Worth Interior Design

Styling a Bookshelf is Easy and Fun – Fort Worth Interior Design

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To any visitor, a bookshelf will communicate what you read, what you collect, and what you love. Bookshelves are a window into your passions and pursuits, and an opportunity to put your most favorite things on display. Unfortunately, many of our clients DESPISE their built-ins and bookshelves. All that blank surface space is down-right overwhelming! Have you thrown in the towel and let your shelves become a dumping ground for books, DVDs, and random trinkets collected over the years? We see you. We feel you. We’re here to help! It’s time to rustle up the courage to tackle that bookshelf beast. Here are three steps to styling shelves so they look as interesting and pulled together as you are (who am I kidding…my bookshelves are more “pulled together” than I am! ☺)

Before you begin there are some universal rules to styling any surface or room in your house: 

1.) Have a clear consistent color palette and 2.) Edit out what you don’t need or like. That sounds obvious but it’s not. If your pieces aren’t a.) Functional, b.) Sentimental or c.) Beautiful then please hand those suckers down, add them to your garage sale or drop them off at Goodwill. That’s just a universal rule for the styling of any surface. Now for the three steps:

1. Start with your books and larger objects – maybe it’s only a few books or a library full of dusty old novels. Stack them both vertically and horizontally and pepper the colors around evenly for a collected, yet pulled together look. One way to highlight a hard-back book color is to remove the cover. You will be amazed at all the colorful book bindings you can find in the book section of a thrift store.

2. Add a backdrop – Not all shelving is large enough for this but if you can, DO IT. Incorporating a backdrop – whether it be art work, wallpaper, a wooden box or a plate hung in the back of the shelf – draws your eye in and creates a sense of layering. It also takes up a lot of visual real estate that is otherwise hard to fill with smaller objects.

3. Mix it up – This is where you add in all your pretty things – your favorite vintage objects, greenery, sculptures, vessels, collections and perhaps even lighting. Mix up the textures, sizes, styles and tones but stay within that color palette so it doesn’t look like a thrift store. Choose 2-3 colors to accent and draw attention. Also play with heights of the objects. Place some on top of stacked books, others directly on the shelf.

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Notice the balance achieved between the larger similar-sized and color items (terrarium with potted plant, black picture frame, typerwriter and soft bin) alternating in placement from left to right with other objects interspersed throughout. Different heights, textures and a simple wood black and white color scheme adds to the appeal.

Other tips:
1. Keep smaller objects contained – Notice the collection of drumsticks and candles on our bookshelf above. Collections like these look more organized if they are grouped together and contained. You can use a tall glass vase like we did or, for shorter collections try a tray or other shallow container.

2. Utilize the top shelf – The top of a tall bookcase is a great place to display large collection pieces. Globes? Milk glass vases? Vintage fans? The possibilities are endless!

3. Pay Attention to Scale –  Ensuring you have a variation in height, shape and volume will ensure you end up with a bookshelf that packs plenty of interest. To avoid over-doing it, try staying in one design style (farmhouse, vintage, mid-century modern, etc.)

We want your bookshelves and built-ins to tell a beautiful story – a reflection of who you are and what you love. Styling them is definitely an art, but a job easily tackled if you study ones done right and follow our tips. Happy decorating!

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Thanks – Fort Worth Interior Design

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