How To Style A Bookcase: A Comprehensive Guide

How To Style A Bookcase
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Wondering how to style a bookcase? Don’t worry, we got you.

Bookcases are more than just storage solutions; they are opportunities to inspire your living space with style and personality.

Whether you’re an avid reader or simply want to showcase your collection of favourite books and cherished possessions, the art of styling bookcases can transform a dull corner into a captivating focal point.

In this article, we’ll dive into the art of styling a bookcase.

1. Choosing The Right Bookcase

Choosing the right bookcase is the first and foundational step when it comes to styling bookshelves.

The right bookcase will not only look good in your room but also complement your personality.

Let us look at some of the things to consider while choosing the bookcase of your dreams.

1.1 Measuring The Available Space

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  • Take accurate measurements of the space available for your bookshelf. It will help you narrow down your options to bookcases that fit snugly and comfortably.
  • A well-proportioned bookshelf complements the room’s aesthetics. If the bookshelf is too big it can make the room look overwhelming. On the contrary, if it’s too small it might look unbalanced. 
  • Measure the height, width, and depth of the space available carefully before you shop for a bookshelf.

1.2 Complementing Your Decor

It is essential to think about how it complements your overall decor. Your decor style and colour scheme should harmonize with the bookcase’s design and finish

For instance, if you have minimalist decor, a sleek and simple bookshelf with clean lines would likely work best.

On the other hand, if your decor leans towards a rustic or vintage aesthetic, a bookshelf with distressed wood and antique hardware could be a perfect match.

how to style a bookcase
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  • The goal is to ensure that the bookcase fits physically. Additionally, it will visually blend in with its surroundings, making it an integral part of the room’s design rather than an isolated piece of furniture.
  • Carefully align your bookcase (paint, material, and texture) with your decor. This way you create a more harmonious and inviting living space. Furthermore, the bookcase will not stand out as an odd element but quickly become a part of the room’s overall aesthetic.

1.3 Storage Needs

Understanding your storage needs is extremely crucial when choosing a bookcase. 

Consider whether the bookcase will also showcase decorative objects like sculptures, vases, or framed photos.

This choice impacts the bookcase’s design, such as open shelving for decorative objects.

On the contrary, closed storage for more practical, less visually appealing items.

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Anticipate how your book collection may grow over time. Having some extra shelf space to accommodate new additions avoids the need for frequent replacements or additional storage furniture.

This will inform you about the number and configuration of shelves you need in your bookcase.

For example, you may want to use the upper shelves to display books and the lower shelves to fill with decor, artwork, and larger items.

Carefully consider how you plan to use the bookcase and what items it will house. This way you can make an informed decision about its size, shelf configuration, and design features

It will ensure that the bookcase meets your storage requirements effectively and efficiently.

1.4 Budgetary Restrictions

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Understanding your budget helps you narrow down your options to bookcases that fall within your preferred cost range. This streamlines the shopping process and saves time.

Consider the trade-off between quality and price. A more expensive bookcase may be constructed from higher-quality materials and last longer, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice for your needs.

Ensure you’re getting good value for your investment in terms of design, functionality, and durability.

By setting a budget, you can streamline your options, avoid overspending, and prioritize quality and value for money while staying within your financial means.

2. Styling The Bookshelf

how to style a bookcase
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Now that you have got the perfect bookcase for your room it is time to enrich it with your beautiful book collection.

Arranging your books thoughtfully is essential to creating an organized and visually pleasing bookcase.

It allows you to infuse your bookcase with your personal style while showcasing your favourite books. 

Although this step is unique and personal to you, the following principles will help you organize your bookcase in the best way possible. 

2.1 Creating Visual Harmony 

Arranging books in a way that creates an aesthetically pleasing and well-balanced display is an art.

It involves decisions such as sorting books by size, genre, author, or even colour to create visually pleasing arrangements. 

How To Style A Bookcase
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Avoid creating a pile in one space and leaving another space empty. Instead, create a balanced arrangement.

Allow for negative space as it allows the eye to rest and appreciate the arrangement. Moreover, white space creates a sense of balance and openness.

You can either stack the books horizontally or you can stack them vertically. Experiment with vertical and horizontal stacks to add variety and visual interest.

While vertical stacking maximizes space and allows for efficient storage, stacking books horizontally can highlight certain books and decorative items.

Horizontal books allow space to add artwork and similar objects to the bookshelf. Styling shelves this way helps create interest.

2.2 Adding Decorative Elements

how to style a bookcase
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Decorative items are essential pieces that add personality, flair and character to your bookshelf.

These items can be almost anything from vases, artwork, picture frames to small objects. They help fill unused space while not creating clutter.

Bookends and art pieces can be used to decorate the bookshelf and create an interesting mix. They also add fun and a sense of life to the bookshelf. 

Distribute the decorative items evenly across the shelves to prevent overcrowding. It will ensure that they complement your room’s colour scheme and design.

Each element tells a part of your story. It makes your bookcase a reflection of your personal style and a conversation piece in your living space.

2.3 Giving A Personal Touch

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Incorporate a personal touch to your bookshelf styling to help mix your personality and sentimental values into a mere bookshelf. Thus making it an integral part of your room and your house.

An example of adding a personal touch can be added by styling a bookshelf with picture frames.

Additionally, add objects that are special to you and objects you want to display and never forget about.

Another example of a sentimental object is an heirloom or a keepsake. Instead of putting them in storage boxes, display them on your bookshelf and add some life to it in the process.

Strike the right balance between objects of emotional value and the rest of the artwork. Decorate your bookshelf so that it becomes the focal point of the room.

2.4 Making It Natural

how to style a bookcase
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Creating a naturally inspired bookshelf design is a wonderful way to bring the soothing and refreshing essence of the outdoors into your living space.

The following tips will help you give a natural look for your bookshelves:

  • Add your favourite flowers and some green plants to decorate your bookshelf. It is a refreshing and natural way to make the bookshelf more interesting.
  • Doing so also adds a feeling of balance, beauty, and vitality to the bookshelf. Styling bookshelves by putting bright flowers on display is a great way to add colour to the bookshelves.
  • When you go to shop for the flowers, keep in mind the decor and the overall vibe of the room. Of course, what you like comes first.

3. Open Bookshelves Vs. Closed Bookshelves

Both types of bookshelves have their advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which one of the two bookshelves will look better in your room.

You can also shop for a style that is a mix of both types of bookshelves.

Let us look at some of the pros and cons of each style of bookshelf. It will help you pick eclectic-style shelves for your room.

3.1 Open Bookshelves

how to style a bookcase
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3.1.1 Advantages

An open shelf offers a dynamic and visually interesting way to display books and decorative items. Moreover, open shelves allow for effortless browsing of your books.

Further, they allow for appreciation for your collection without the obstruction caused by doors.

Open shelves also provide an opportunity for creative expression on the shelf. You can display your style and ideas by choosing what you decorate the shelf with.

Style your shelf with a mix of a few books and art to create interest. It will make the shelf the focal point of your room.

An open shelf also allows for flexibility in styling a shelf. You can experiment with the style on an open shelf.

For example, by stacking books horizontally you can put the rest of the objects on display.

An open shelf also gathers attraction and can be a really good conversation starter.

The way of styling, the picture frames and the artwork on display can spark discussions about your favourite book. They can also bring up stories behind the ideas of using specific decorative items.

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3.1.2 Disadvantages

You must not forget that an open shelf is more likely to pile dust. Therefore will require frequent dusting and maintenance.

Furthermore, potential exposure to environmental factors like sunlight and moisture damages the shelf. It affects the paint, material, artwork, and books adversely.

Open shelves can also create a sense of visual clutter in some spaces as objects are on display constantly.

If you prefer a more streamlined and minimalist style, you might want to avoid open shelves. You might prefer closed shelves more if frequent maintenance can be an inconvenience to you.

3.1 Closed Bookshelves

how to style a bookcase
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Closed bookshelves feature doors or glass panels that act as covers for the shelves. Let us take a look at some of its advantages and disadvantages in the following sections.

3.1.1 Advantages

Closed shelves provide excellent protection for your books and decor. The door and glass panels act as protection from environmental factors such as dust, moisture, and sunlight.

Therefore, closed shelves are an excellent choice for preserving valuable or delicate books and items.

Closed shelves also offer a very clean appearance. They create a very clean and organized look in your room by tucking away the clutter. Thus providing a tidy and organized appearance.

If you are someone who prefers a more clean and minimalist aesthetic, getting a bookcase with closed shelves would make the most sense.

Closed shelves also provide another advantage. They can be particularly valuable if you are concerned about the aesthetics.

They add to the overall decor of your room. Closed shelves come in various styles and materials.

This allows you options that have the potential of complementing your room’s decor. You can find a closed bookshelf that suits your preference.

how to style a bookcase
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3.1.2 Disadvantages

Closed bookshelves limit the visibility of the contents inside. It would help if you opened them to see and access the books and decor inside. This can be inconvenient if you refer to or browse your book collection frequently.

Closed bookshelves also limit the ability for creative expression. Although you can still arrange items inside, the styling and decor might not stand out.

All the ideas behind the decor and the way you styled the inside of the bookshelf will not be visible.

Another disadvantage is that in smaller rooms, closed bookshelves might appear bulky and make the room appear crowded or closed in.

Further, they can also become visual barriers that can affect the feeling of openness.

Closed bookshelves might protect the contents inside but they need cleaning. The glass panels can gather smudges and fingerprints, therefore requiring regular cleaning.

Additionally, if the panels or doors have intricate designs they may require more care.

The choice between open or closed shelves is finally up to you. It will depend on your specific needs such as storage, aesthetic preferences, and so on.

3.3 Styling An Open Bookshelf

how to style a bookcase
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Here are some great tips that will help you style an open bookshelf.

When styling open bookcases, you have the opportunity to begin with a clean slate. Empty your bookshelf and give it a thorough cleaning to start fresh.

Categorize your books—by genre, author, size, or colour—to create order. Stack the books evenly instead of creating one pile to create visual harmony.

Add decorative elements like framed photos, sculptures, or vases among your books to fill the empty shelf and create visual interest.

Bookends serve both a functional and decorative purpose. They keep your books in place while providing an opportunity to introduce a theme or motif. Experiment with vertical and horizontal stacking to create variety.

Vary heights of items on your shelves to add depth and appeal. Consider arranging books by colour for a striking visual effect. Layering and overlapping items is another way to create an intriguing display.

Don’t forget to personalize your bookcase with family photos and travel souvenirs. These personal touches make your bookshelf uniquely yours.

Try and regularly update your display to keep it fresh and aligned with your evolving tastes.

3.4 Styling A Closed Bookshelf

how to style a bookcase
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You can achieve an elegant look when it comes to styling a closed bookshelf with the help of the following tips.

Styling a closed bookshelf is similar to styling an open bookshelf. Begin by organizing your books categorically. It can be by genre, author, size, or colour. It is the first step to creating a good display.

Closed bookshelves can also be used for concealing clutter. This makes them ideal for maintaining a streamlined and uncluttered appearance.

Choose decorative elements that match the overall theme of your room’s decor.

Furthermore, consider adding artwork and decorative objects. Doing so can add character to the display.

Opt for items with varying heights and textures behind the transparent doors.

Additionally, use the area above the bookshelf to display larger items or decorative pieces. It can attract attention and make the room feel more spacious.

Closed bookshelves also allow you to integrate lighting elements. Use LED lights or adjustable shelf lighting to highlight a few books or decorative items.

3.5 Creating A Versatile Display

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Creating a versatile look for your bookshelves involves thoughtful planning and adaptability.

You can achieve a versatile display by mixing open shelves and closed shelves.

You can get space for visible displays and concealed storage. Shop for shelves that can be adjusted to meet changing needs.

4. Maintaining Your Bookcase

Now you have a well-styled bookcase. It will not stay well-styled for long unless you maintain it regularly. The following tips will help keep your bookcase in the best possible shape.

This tip is especially crucial for open bookcases. Regularly dust shelves and decor with a lint-free cloth or microfiber duster. Use glass cleaning spray and cloth on the glass panels on closed bookshelves.

Use curtains or blinds for added protection from direct sunlight. Ensure your bookshelves are away from high-humidity areas to avoid mould.

How To Style A Bookcase
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Update your bookshelf regularly to keep it fresh. Start by cleaning and clearing the shelves for a fresh canvas. Experiment with rearranging books and styling decorations in a new way.

Updating your collection is also essential. Donate or relocate books you no longer need to declutter your shelves. Seasonal updates, such as changing decor items are a great idea.

Adding season-specific elements such as snow globes in winter will make your bookcase look very special.

5. Final Thoughts

In the past few minutes, you learned how to style a bookcase. To Style a bookshelf isn’t just arranging your books and decorations.

It is about expressing yourself and telling your story. Experiment with different arrangements. Express your creativity with the decor and keep it fresh with updates when you feel necessary.

You might not be an interior designer. But you can still get an eclectic style with the tips and ideas talked about in the article. Good luck with elevating your living area. Give your literary collection a beautiful home.

Looking for ideas on how to style your coffee table? Check out our post on How To Style A Coffee Table Without An Interior Designer.