How to Accessorize a Bookshelf

Hi, I’m Cherie Arscott with Architectural Design Studios!  Today I’m going to share some helpful design tips with you on how to accessorize a bookshelf to make it a focal point in your home.  We all know that bookshelves are great for books, but they don’t need to be filled with just books.  Bookshelves also act as a place to show off personal gifts, family photos, and your favorite décor.  Think about how you can make this feature in your home more interesting and beautiful for you and your guests to enjoy.  Whether it is in your living room, home office, reading nook, or bedroom, having a display of the things that inspire you the most is a key component to showing off your unique personality and style.

~Create Balance through a Chosen Color Scheme

The key to transforming your bookshelf into a stylized design feature really lies in the balance.  Without a sense of balance, a bookshelf can appear overloaded or even spare.  Bookshelves are of course a great way to create a mini library in your home, but they also give you the opportunity to add some character to your space.  One of the main ways to do this is to create balance through color.  Think about your color palette and what accessories will work best with your décor.  Choose a color scheme to use for all of the shelves you are decorating.  Pops of color added evenly throughout can add so much fun to the space.   The easiest combination is to keep everything neutral with the addition of one or two colors that tie in with your whole room.  If you prefer not to use color, use pops of white, or gold and play with textures like baskets, wood, or metal accents.  Once the balance is achieved, your stylized bookshelf may be on its way to be the true focal point of the room.  Don’t forget to decorate around a design concept that moves you, such as nature, history, or even a specific location.

Bookshelf Color Scheme~Personalize

A great way to add warmth and personality to your bookshelf is to add personalized décor such as photo collages and unique and quality frames.  Small photo frames can also be easily layered in front of books to create depth and add a personal touch.  Try to avoid using too many small frames though as it could look a little cluttered when several are clumped together.  It’s a good rule of thumb to choose close up shots for your photos and keep them at eye level because they will stand out better at a distance.  Also, displaying meaningful souvenirs from your vacations and other travels can help to tell a story of where you’ve been that can easily be translated to your guests.

warmth and personality to your bookshelf

~Less is More

Make sure you pay attention to empty space because sometimes that is exactly what you need to find balance.  Even though it is a bookshelf, you don’t want it to be overcrowded with too many books and knick-knacks.  You still want to be able to accessorize, and by that you will want to add only a few display items.  Keep the accessories simple and only display objects of curiosity on shelves, keeping them clean and calm.  It’s a good idea to have a few different pieces that vary in color, shape, and size and try to stick with bigger items, but less of them.  A lot of small items can make a shelf look cluttered.  Art and framed photos are great items to have because they generally take up a large amount of space of your shelves.  Then you can choose your favorite pieces and make them the focal point to build around. 

choose your favorite pieces and make them the focal point

~Vary Your Height

Even if the objects your using don’t necessarily carry a theme amongst themselves, you can still create a thoughtful, balanced display by concentrating on the size and height of the items.  Using décor pieces of varying heights helps to create a more dynamic look on your shelves and can fill in empty spaces.  First, think about how much height you have in between your shelves and look for pieces that will fit well into that space.  Consider layering a few items in front of each other to keep the displays from all being one-dimensional.  Put the tallest items in the back and the smallest ones in the front.  This could mean layering some small decorative objects in front of books or placing books in front of a piece of art.  If you’re using a lot of books, it’s a good idea to vary the way you display them.  Try not only stacking books vertically but also horizontally.  This will add an extra layer of texture and interest to your space.  Gather them together in ways you find pleasing and inspiring.  Plants are also a great way to add height and depth to your display.  Consider using a variety of stylish pots and containers to put them in from bowls to pitchers or even baskets to help add character and detail to your bookshelf.  Plants will not only add life to the shelves, but they also help to purify the air, making them great for your home environment.

balanced display

~Add Stylish Storage

Search for beautiful boxes, vessels or bowls to store things that will help to keep the shelves free of clutter and add some style.  These items are all great for filling in any empty spaces.  They come in a variety of colors and materials, so no matter what your style is, you can easily find something to suit your shelves.  These pieces are great for stacking or layering other items on top.  Smaller pieces are great for setting on top of a stack of books, while larger pieces can make a statement and simplify an area with a lot of smaller items.  Baskets are also great for bookshelves because they fill a lot of space empty.  They can also hold a lot of your personal items that would otherwise be seen and look cluttered if they were sitting out alone on the shelf.  They are also a great way to add texture to help break up the linear look of stacked books or rigid picture frames.

beautiful boxes, vessels or bowls to store things that will help to keep the shelves free of clutter and add some style 


So, if you aren’t happy with the look of your bookshelf at home, take everything down and start fresh.  It may be time to rotate some items out and introduce some new ones.  Then start with these important design tips I reviewed with you today and turn that boring bookshelf into a beautiful display that you and your guests can enjoy daily.

I look forward to seeing you all next time!  Thanks for watching!