8 Tips to Help You Style Your Bookcase Like a Pro

My husband and I just moved in to our house, and I’ve finally gotten down to actually decorating the place.  I was so tired of reassembling furniture and unpacking the basics- I wondered if I would ever get down to actually making our house look like a home.  So finally deciding to decorate the living area, I tackled my bookcases.  Bookcases don’t have to be boring.  They’re a chance to show your personal style and tell your story.  Surely incorporate books, but also think about displaying other decorative items, such as vintage finds, and family heirlooms.  Your bookcase will be unique to your personal taste, but these universal tips should help you get started organizing and styling like a pro.
1.  Examine the bare bones.
Before putting anything on your bookcase, see if there’s any way you’d like to make the shelves look more appealing.  This could be making free-standing shelves built-ins, painting them or adding decals.  We purchased these bookcases from Ikea, and decided to paint the inside; not only to add a little bit of color, but also to make the items on the shelf stand out.  For a less permanent solution, use wallpaper, fabric or contact paper at the back of the shelf.  Also, determine your color palette.  I think it’s best to keep to a few colors so the shelf isn’t visually confusing.
2. Diagonally place larger items.
Ok, now for the fun part. Consider what you want to put on the shelves.  More books? Vases? Frames?  You could start by placing your books on the shelves- and I do suggest that if you have a lot of them.  But I typically like to start placing the larger objects, diagonally.  This adds visual balance so that one side doesn’t appear heavier than the other.  Depending on how many shelves you have, you can place them diagonally on every other shelf, or diagonally by a group of shelves.
3.  Place items in order from largest to smallest.
As you fill the bookcase, place the larger items on first, followed by medium-sized objects, and then smaller objects.  Remember, a larger item could mean just one item, but it could also mean a group of similar items.  Although placed on their own something may seem small; but together they are considered larger, like the group of like books on my top shelf.
4.  When stacking books, consider your color palette.
When stacking books, consider the top book.  Make sure that it coordinates with your overall color palette.  In this scheme, a bright pink or purple book wouldn’t coordinate as well as a black or brown book, placed on top.
5.  Try grouping items in 3’s.
A well-balanced bookcase displays grouped objects.  I find that groups of 3’s are easiest to style.  A small object, a medium-sized object, and a larger object grouped together sets it apart and adds balanced style to the shelf.
6.  Group similar books and objects.
Group like books by color or style.  Here I’ve grouped five books that are similar- less by color, and more by style.  I removed the paper book covers from them to reveal their similar, metallic gold titles.
7. Consider turning books around for color coordination.
If you have a lot of books that vary in color and you’re worried they won’t match, try turning them around.  They may look more appealing, as the color of the pages are much more similar than their spine.  If the books are rather old, revealing the pages can also add some vintage character.
8.  Add reflective elements.
Break up the stale look of the bookcase by adding reflective elements.  Mirrors, glass vases or anything else that has shiny or reflective qualities can give the shelf a touch of elegance.
Just when I think I’m finished, typically I’m not.  I always take a step back and look at the shelf.  Does it look balanced?  Are there enough elements to my liking?  Is there enough height variation?  Are there enough books?  Is it too empty?  Cluttered?  The answers to these questions are unique to your personal style.  So do what suits your taste.  I personally like the look of styling with decorative elements rather than filling my shelf with more books.  Move items around and try different ways of arranging.  When styling this shelf, I would place an object, walk back, think about it, and then go back to the shelf and change it so many times before I was satisfied with the finish product.
Before, our Billy bookcases were basic.  They were functional, but not stylish enough for my liking.  With just a few books and decorative items we collected over the years, our bookcase has gotten a major facelift.  I hope you guys like it!  Happy DIY!