The Skillfully Styled Bookshelf
Books have been, and will continue to be for some time, a physical maker of one's curiosity and intelligence. Want to look worldly and cultured? Store your stash of tomes in style. A proper bookshelf is a great way to add a shot of sophistication to your place. Especially in the pockets of space in between the stacks of books. But how do you make your bookcase look as sharp as one expertly styled by an interior designer? Simple. Borrow moves from their professional playbooks to nail that perfectly relaxed but still polished vibe.
Mix Up the
This isn't a library. Things don't have to be so perfectly aligned. Utilize a mix of horizontal rows and vertical stacks of books. Do this both within the same shelf and then also try mixing up the way entire shelves are arranged so that one shelf is all horizontal and another is all vertical. To make it easier to find the book you're looking for, do as designer Nate Berkus does and organize them in groups by topic/subject.
Boxes, bowls or trays come in handy when styling a bookshelf. Use them to store odds and ends you don't need out in the open like matches and tech gear. They also double as bookends and offer a sharp finishing touch on top of a vertical stack of books.
$15 at Jayson Home
Strongbox, $28 by Best Made Co.
$65 / $39 at
One Kings Lane
Look for sculptural pieces that will break up the standard rows of rectangles. Add in live plants and decorative items like pottery or candles along with more utilitarian pieces like clocks and bookends. Play around with separating your bookends on different shelves for a less predictable look.
Rustic wood sphere,
$39 at West Elm
Marble bookend set,
$29.95 at Crate & Barrel
Stoneware vase, $130
by Workaday Handmade
This is one of those styling tips designers use all the time—incorporating frames into the shelf scheme. They can be small snapshots tucked in around the books or a mid-sized framed piece propped up along the back of a shelf. If you've got a decent-sized bookcase, you can even hang frames on the shelves themselves—a fresh take on an old English library look.
Vintage solar system print,
from $19 by Jazzberry Blue
"The Row" print, $149 by Julia Kostreva
911 patent, $39.98 by Patent Prints
Make It Personal
"Bookshelves are a great opportunity to display pieces accrued over time and show personality," says Irene Lovett of Designstiles. Whether it's a collection of similar items, family heirlooms or unique finds from your travels, Lovett suggests grouping similar items together horizontally or vertically, making sure to place larger items in the back so "your eyes capture all the visual interest."