Guide to Styling Bookshelves

Bookcases can be a great feature in a room. They’re an opportunity to showcase interests and personality through books and curated collections. They also run the risk of quickly becoming a cluttered catch-all with a major presence. I’ve pulled together a number of guides and sources of inspiration on ways to style your bookcases, from organizing by color for graphic appeal to incorporating framed art to creating well-balanced vignettes.

Monochromatic: Covering books in Kraft paper is probably oriented more to the design-centric than the true bibliophile as it can make the books difficult (if not impossible) to find at a moment's notice. That being said, it creates a clean monochromatic look in a room. If you like the look but want to be able to find what you need, consider adding bookplate style titles to the spines. The same can be said for turning spines in to create a monochromatic look — impossible to find what you need but a viable solution for books you hang onto strictly for sentiment's sake.

Organizing By Color: Organizing books by color creates a graphic pop to the room, drawing attention to them as a feature instead of seeking to make them simply blend in. It can also make them easier to find, lending a bit of organization to your shelves.

Orientation: Instead of going vertical why not stack books horizontally? It creates a graphic feel and makes titles easy to read. You can also alternate stacks between vertical and horizontal to create a more relaxed, eclectic look.

Incorporating Art: Smaller framed works can be propped up on shelves and large pieces can be leaned or suspended in front of them, creating a layered effect.

Creating Vignettes: As seen on Apartment Therapy, Lonny Magazine featured a great guide to creating sophisticated vignettes. Design Star winner and Secrets from a Stylist host Emily Henderson also shares a great tipon the HGTV website, emphasizing creating balanced asymmetric compositions on bookshelves.

Add your own favorite tips or sources of inspiration to the comments below.

Images: Remodelista, Laure Joliet, Elle Decor, Domino Magazine, HGTV

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A Bay Area based photographer, writer and all around design junkie I'm obsessed with finding beauty both in the home and on the open road.

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