styling secrets – bookshelves

It’s been a while since I wrote a piece on styling. After my Styling Room by Room series, I didn’t really know where else I could go with it. But I thought I could look in more depth at the details of each room. How to style individual pieces of furniture or  areas of the rooms, as well as the importance of styling window dressings for photos.

So we’ll start with one of my favourites: bookshelves.

They come in all shapes and sizes, widths and heights, with a variety of usable and empty spaces.. so is there just one set of rules that can be followed? Not really. It is dependent on which room the bookshelves are in and what their function is. Some people have feature bookshelves, built into alcoves or custom made to fill a whole wall where they want to display not only books, but decorative objects too. While others have practical bookshelves, that tend to be smaller and serve the primary purpose of encasing books. So there are rules, but you can pick and choose which ones apply to you depending on the kind of shelving you have and what you use it for.

Bookshelves and cases used to be used solely for giving a home to those battered, much-loved spines, but those days are gone. Lots of people want to make even their practical bookcases look a little more special, while others prefer to use the space to display decorative items as opposed to reading material.

1. Colour block your books/objects. This one is self-explanatory.. I have seen great examples of this in a variety of shelves. From grouping the same coloured books together along the lengths of the shelves, to having a pile of books in one colour next to a display of trinkets of that same colour. It doesn’t work for everyone, but if it’s to your taste, it can look fab.

2. Checker-board your books/items. This is slightly more difficult to explain, but if you imagine a checker-board then my description should be of some use. This would work well for those of you wanting to house your books as well as display a few items. Imagine the top shelf split into three sections: on the left hand side, you’d have some books (stacked, standing, however you want them) in the centre, you’d have a cluster of decorative items (a vase, a glass bottle, and an ornament) and then on the right hand side, you’d have books again – the same way you’d displayed them on the opposite side.
Then on the shelf below, imagine it being split into three again. Only this time, from left to right, you’d have decorative objects, books, decorative objects. That’s your basic checker-board. It works well for open kitchen shelving too – mixing up bowls and plates and mugs.

3. Combine books and objects. On each shelf you could have a small pile of books with an object placed on top. Then on another shelf you could have a small selection of books standing up to one side with an object placed next to it. This is very open to your own creativity, but works better for lighter displays (ie. not for shelves that are jam-packed with books!)

4. Alternate. You can alternate shelves of books and objects. Quite similar to the checker-board, but you keep one type per shelf. So a whole shelf of books. Then a whole shelf of objects.

5. Random placement. This is the most creative, it has no limits except that again, this works best on lighter shelving. You can place books and objects in any way you want, remembering to keep a balance of colour and weight across the whole case. Adding eye-catching objects at the edges and corners to draw the eye across the entire display. You can use the rule of thirds here as it works well for aesthetics.

6. Be creative. You won’t get the perfect bookcase on your first try. So attempt a few different things, stand back and really look at what you’ve created. Look at the bits you aren’t happy with and think about what would make it better. Experiment!

Here are a few varying examples of what others have done on Pinterest, so see what you like and remember, it can be different depending on which room it is in.

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One thought on “styling secrets – bookshelves

  1. Your thoughts on styling individual furniture, bookshelves to be more specific is an intriguing idea. I had never thought about how to style a bookshelf by itself only how to style it within a particular space. Great concept! I will have to try it out. I Came across your post while participating in The Daily Post’s Blogging 101 course. I am new to blogging so I am looking for other bloggers with similar interests to mine. While most of my posts have been about life experiences I am really interested in blogging about beauty, design, and my experiences with buying my first home.

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