Bookshelves: For More than Just Books

Feeling overwhelmed by your overstuffed book shelves? The difference between a jam-packed, cluttered bookcase and one that is thoughtfully designed and decorated is significant. If you have reached your limit with packed-to-the brim bookshelves that detract from your overall interior design, we have tips and tricks for culling unnecessary items, and decorating your bookshelves so they are inviting and attractive.


7 Tips and Tricks for Decorating Your Bookshelves Like a Pro:

  1. Take One Shelf at a Time. There’s no need to tackle your whole bookcase at once. Just take once shelf at a time, which can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. It makes a great unwinding process at the end of the day, or before bed. Just put on some soothing music and jump in.
  2. Cull the Stacks. Most of us end up with way more books than we will ever read again. Culling the stacks is the first step in keeping your shelves from becoming cluttered. Start by dividing your books into three piles:
    • Absolute keepers. The books that have shaped you, changed your perspective, and you are sure you will want to read again and again. These books are like literary family.
    • Forgot you had ’em. These books were quick vacation reads or passed to you by well-meaning friends and family. Some might have lofty authors that you just never got into (we can’t all be bibliophiles). If you don’t plan on reading it again, or didn’t finish it, it should be donated.
    • On the fence. If you can’t decide, keep an “on the fence” pile. The more culling you do, the more ruthless you will become and going through this stack again will be quick.

    Don’t forget about your local libraries. You can always order a book for pick-up through your library, meaning it’s free and doesn’t require permanent residence on your shelves.

  3. Pull the Books to the Front. When you replace your books, resist the urge to move them to the back of the shelf. Instead, align them towards the front of the shelves. It looks more uniform and saves you a bit of dusting.
  4. Alternate Your Stacking Direction. Switch up the way you stack your books. Some can be aligned vertically, and others horizontally. This creates different shapes within the bookshelf grid, and often allows for more “white space” as well, so they don’t look so full.
  5. Create Space. Speaking of white space, it’s important that your book shelves leave space around books and decorative objects. No space = the jam-packed, cluttered look you were eliminating in the first place. You can create space by intermingling books, pictures, vases, or objets d’art, or by leaving some shelves for books and others for your decorations.
  6. Match Your Objects. As you continue through your sorting process, consider how your objects are related. Try to create symmetry by placing similarly shaped objects together on a shelf, or keep photos in one area and pottery in another.
  7. Color Coordinate. If you really want to decorate your bookshelves like a pro, learn to color coordinate them with your space. Choose accents that pull out the colors that are already an integral part of your room’s palette. Or, you can make book covers for some of your paperback books, to provide a higher-quality, color unified appearance.

These simple tips and tricks can use up the better portion of a day, or can be worked on little by little throughout the week (or month!). Either way, the end result will be a more harmonious book display that works to enhance your interior decor.