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How to Style Bookshelves: Tips and Tricks for a Beautiful Display

 Hey, we got a shoutout in a Dallas Morning News article about rocking the bookshelf game! Check it out for sure. And if you want the inside scoop with some exclusive tips not in the article, just keep scrolling down.

bookshelf styling

1. What is the right amount of "stuff" to style a bookshelf so it doesn't look cluttered?

Finding the perfect balance for a well-styled bookshelf involves a mix of organization and aesthetics. Aim for a harmonious display by interspersing books with decorative items like vases, framed photos, or small sculptures. Consider leaving some empty space to prevent overcrowding and allow the eye to rest. Group similar items together for a cohesive look. Ultimately, it's about personal preference, so trust your instincts and create a setup that reflects your style while maintaining a sense of order. 

2. How do you pick out non-book items to go on your bookshelf, and what ratio of books to nonbooks should you have?

Selecting non-book items for your bookshelf can be a creative and personal process. I always start by choosing items that resonate with my clients aesthetically or hold sentimental value, then fill in with purchased items that complement the overall look. Decorative pieces like vases, plants, or small sculptures can complement the books and add visual interest.

As for the ratio, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. But if solid numbers helps you to determine the perfect mix, style in odd groups of 3, 5, and 7 for a balanced, clutter-free and harmonious look. In the end it really just depends on your preferences and the size of your bookshelf. A common guideline is to maintain a balance, ensuring that non-book items don't overwhelm the space. Experiment with different arrangements, and don't hesitate to leave some areas empty for a clean and uncluttered look. The key is to strike a balance that reflects your style while allowing the books to remain a focal point. 

3. How much space should you leave empty on your shelves?

While there's no strict rule, I typically don't like to leave a shelf empty, but would rather leave around 20-30% negative space on the shelves to contribute to a visually appealing and uncluttered display. This means not filling the shelf to the brim in either direction. This gives the eye room to breathe and allows the items on the shelves to stand out. Adjust the empty space based on your personal preference and the size of the items you're displaying. Feel free to experiment with different arrangements until you find the balance that suits your style and keeps the shelves looking both organized and inviting.

4. How do you manage color and size of your items? Manage multiple shelves?

When I'm playing with color and size on my shelves, I like to establish a visual flow that runs consistently across all the shelves I'm working on. No matter the height of the shelf, my aim is to maintain a 2 to 3-inch gap between the top of an object and the shelf height, creating a clean and well-spaced look.

In terms of arrangement, I evenly distribute the objects on the shelf, ensuring a balanced display. To add a touch of vibrancy, I make it a rule to introduce a splash of color to at least one or two items within my odd-numbered groups. For example, if I have three objects, one of them will pop with color. This could be a mix of two books and a figurine casually stacked on top.

To tie everything together, I replicate this approach in different spots on the shelf for a cohesive feel, while also letting my creativity flow as I play around with styles. It's all about finding that sweet spot between order and visual interest.

5. How can you incorporate artwork? 

Incorporating artwork on shelves is a fantastic way to infuse personality and flair into your space. Consider leaning framed pieces against the back of the shelf to create a dynamic backdrop. Mix it up by weaving in artwork with books or decorative items, achieving a balanced and visually appealing arrangement.

Another option is to use easels to showcase smaller art pieces, adding height variation to the display. Don't be afraid to layer artwork in front of larger items for depth. Play around with sizes, orientations, and styles to find a composition that resonates with your taste.

Remember, it's all about showcasing your unique style, so feel free to experiment until you achieve a look that reflects your personality while maintaining a polished and cohesive aesthetic.

If you're a homeowner with a remodel or renovation project and want to work with an interior designer, then let's connect. Together, we'll transform your space into a masterpiece that reflects your unique style and personality.


Disclaimer: The DVS editorial team may highlight a curated selection of product recommendations for your consideration; clicking a link to the retailer that sells the product may earn us a small commission.

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