When it comes to bookshelf styling it can easily becoming overwhelming on what to display and how to display it. When done correctly, a bookshelf can add instant texture to your walls, while also telling the story of you and your home! Below, I’ve broken it down to my top 11 tips & tricks for creating an organized, beautiful, functional unit!
WHAT TO DISPLAY?
Like the wedding saying goes “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”…the story of your shelves should also include a variety of ‘somethings’. Whether you’ve just got a few shelves to style or an entire wall unit…these are the things I find bring the most texture and story, while also balancing storage and purpose.
1. SOMETHING OLD
Whether you like collecting antiques or happen to have that old camera of your father’s, dust off those treasures and use them as instant art on your shelves!
2. SOMETHING NEW
To keep your shelves up to date and modern, be sure to mix in a few new pieces. For us white lacquered lidded boxes, provide a visual sleekness while blending in seamlessly, and also provide amble storage for trinkets, souvenirs or meaningful items.
3. SOMETHING FRAMED
In today’s world (& iphones) photo memories are plentiful and can easily sit in the cloud, rather than sit on your shelves. The best thing I’ve done for our house, home and hearts has been to print those memories out and display the people and places that mean the most to us. When displaying frames, stay away from only one size and don’t be afraid to mix sizes, mats and frames. For us, varying sizes all in white, allow for the photo to pop, making these memories truly shine.
4. SOMETHING TO READ
What bookshelves were originally made for…book storage! Not only do books / magazines / journals bring instant texture to your shelves, there’s a level of ‘home-y-ness’ that only they can bring. Whether for you or your guests, having something to read on a shelf instantly invites an individual in, welcoming them to relax, enjoy and stay awhile.
5. SOMETHING TO HOLD & STORE
While I’m all for a pretty shelf, it above all else needs to be practical. For us, small house living has us needing to use every square inch of space intentionally and with purpose. Added baskets, lidded boxes or wooden bowls can perform both tasks of looking pretty, but also providing your space with additional storage.
6. SOMETHING TO WEAR
For me this category, while sometimes unexpected, can bring an added purpose and personal quirk to your space. The unit pictured is in our bedroom. My daily totes are displayed and easily stored on the bottom shelves. As I’m getting dressed it’s as simple as picking out my bag for the day, and when I return home, there’s a spot designated for it. A place for your glasses, a favorite necklace, watch or other wearable goods, can not only bring a more personal touch to your shelves, but can also provide a very practical place to store the items you wear the most.
7. SOMETHING GREEN
To add life to your shelves, a plant or vase for regular flowers will add instant charm. For ease, don’t shy away from faux plants, for every bookshelf needs some greenery ~ real or fake!
8. SOMETHING MEANINGFUL
For me, these are the items that are most important. I believe your home should surround you with items that bring you joy. Whether some souvenir from your favorite trip, rocks or pine-cones your child so diligently collected for you, baby shoes, your grandmothers flower vase, a handwritten note. These are items that bring you joy, and all too often we hide them away in drawers or closets or boxes in an attic. Find these items, cherish them, and display them for daily doses of joy.
HOW TO DISPLAY IT?
Now that you know what to display, here’s my insight on how to display it.
9. KEEP THINGS BALANCED, BY DISTRIBUTING WEIGHT EVENLY
And by weight I don’t mean actual lbs. For this, consider the items you have that will bring the most substance to your shelves, whether because they’re large in size or bring a ‘weight’ in texture. For example…you don’t want to style all your largest items on the top shelves with a bunch of tiny little things on the bottom ones…visually it will give the allusion of the unit being ‘top heavy’. So when placing things, be sure to distribute the “weight” evenly to give a nice balance to the overall unit. To help give substance to smaller objects, use the rule of thirds, by grouping smaller objects in sets of three.
10. DISPLAY LIKE ITEMS IN TRIANGLES…DIAGONALS…‘V’ or ‘Z’ PATTERNS
This tip is often confused and like rule 9, is really meant to help you keep balance to the unit. In simplest terms, this idea is meant to help you when placing like items. Rather than grouping like items all together, this tip will help encourage you from keeping things too symmetrical. See the examples below:
These wood / brown tones, are displayed in a triangle pattern to distribute the visual weight on these shelves.
By displaying like colors in a triangle pattern, it gives a balance to the vignette without being symmetrical.
This concept is taken a step further for these like items. By using overlapping triangles (what then can turn into “V” or “Z” patterns as well), a group of picture frames is evenly distributed on a shelf in a way that looks effortless, but rather was very intentional :)
11. LESS IS MORE
The art of curation is sometimes best executed when a certain level of thoughtfulness and restraint is exhibited. Don’t feel like you have to ‘fill’ the shelves. Less IS more. Avoid cluttered shelves by keeping things simple and by embracing the occasional blank space.