The display of books and collectibles add warmth and personality to any space. To someone looking at your shelves, it tells them a bit about you – what you read, what you collect, and what you love. Bookcases can be seen as a window into your passions and pursuits, and an opportunity to put your favourite things on display.
The challenge is how to style a bookcase well. How do you maximize both utility and aesthetic appeal without turning your shelves into a thriftshop? Styling a bookcase draws on a lot of the principles of design – scale, balance, contrast, pattern, and harmony. It is definitely more of an art and the more time you spend doing it, the better you get. That being said, there are a few rules that can help you get started.
Styling guru Emily Henderson recommends these four tips in styling your own bookshelves –
Mix it up
Generally when styling bookshelves, you want to mix up what goes on them. It’s nice to have a combination of books and objects that show off your personality. There are no hard and fast rules about amount of books, just remember that all books can feel a bit heavy and library like.
It’s always good to stick to a colour palette when selecting items for the shelves. It can be a painting, or just a current favourite palette. Limiting yourself to 4 or 5 hues that match the rest of the room is key. Too many colours will turn the shelves into garish ville – definitely not the effect you are after.
Vary shapes and sizes
Having 4 picture frames all the same size does nothing for a shelf but varying their size and shape will really draw your eye in. It’s the same thing with personality pieces, taller pieces such as vases and candle sticks look great when placed with smaller, rounder objects.
It always looks good to add a few storage pieces on the shelves. They can be full baskets at the bottom for games or blankets, or they can be smaller baskets and boxes that get placed amongst the books.
Another trick I like to use a lot is adding colour to the back of the shelves. I have done this through paint, as well as with grasscloth wallpaper. I have seen blogs where people have also used fabric or giftwrap. The only caution I advise if you choose to do this is pay attention to the colour palette. Iron objects don’t show up against a dark background and white vases don’t show up as well on a white background.
Good-luck and have fun!