I was a librarian for eight years before I started working for design*sponge, so it’s probably no surprise that I have a bit of a book problem. (You can see my shelves right here.) My books seem to multiply when I’m not looking. Not that I really mind, I don’t consider a house is a home if it’s not filled with books (but you can give me a librarian pass on that one.) I also love seeing favorite objects mixed in and amongst the books. I’m one of those snoopy people who enjoys nothing more than to be left alone to peruse other people’s bookshelves (and yes, I know it’s rude, but I can’t seem to help myself!). My own bookshelves (even though they are color-coded) are completely functional. I’m ruthless about weeding and every book on my shelves has been read. I also only keep books that I think I’m likely to reread, but I don’t see any reason why a functional bookshelf can’t be stylish too. Here are some tips and some inspiration photos to make your bookshelf as stylish as they are useful – and as usual – let me know if I’ve left anything off the list! I love nothing more than a good tip/suggestion. -Amy
5 Bookshelf Styling Tips
1. Mix up the book placement – try a mix of vertical and horizontal arrangements. 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.
2. Try arranging your books by color – This is often a bit controversial, but unless you have a collection of 2,500+ books, it shouldn’t make it any more difficult to find the books you’re looking for. This librarian is giving you permission to go for it.
3. Decorative objects – Think sculptural. A beautiful bowl, plate or even a stack of boxes.
4. Something natural – A lot of my favorite bookshelf incorporate organic materials. I have a bowl filled with rocks on my shelves, but you could also include a sea fan, a beautiful seashell or even an air plant.
5. Artwork – Definitely incorporate artwork into your shelf scheme. You can prop small pieces on the shelves and even hang larger pieces (like I do) on the shelves themselves for an English library look
Image above: See all the photos of this creatively styled San Francisco home here.
Image above: A mix of objects, books, books and magazine holders make this shelf visually interesting. See all the photos of this Boston apartment here.
Image above: White books allow the objects to take center stage. See all the photos of this Chicago home here.
Image above: Bookshelves don’t have to be just for books. Wire baskets keep anything unslightly tucked away. See all the photos of this San Diego home here.
Image above: A bookcase doesn’t have to be sparse to look stylish. This shelf works because the books are placed at different orientations. Small objects placed in front of the books at visual interest. See all the photos of this Los Angeles home here.
Image above: These shelves were created from wine crates nailed into the wall. The large size of the shelves make it perfect for displaying large objects amongst the books. See all the photos of this Los Angeles home here.
Image above: Color arranged books in the dining room. See all the photos of this home in Washington DC here.
Image above: Want to arrange your books by color? Go a step further and color-code your objects too. See all the photos from this Brooklyn home here.
Image above: The dark color of the shelves sets off the natural objects displayed on this bookshelf. See all the photos of this Italian vacation home here.
Image above: Face out your favorite covers. See all the photos of this Los Angeles home here.