11 Clever Bookshelf Decor Ideas for Styling Your Space Like a Pro

published Jan 25, 2024
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A living room with a green fabric couch across from a pink bookcase and gallery wall

Whether you’re an avid book collector or just have a few of your favorites lying around, you’ve probably encountered the challenges of figuring out how to decorate a bookshelf. With multiple shelves to work with, books of all different colors and sizes, and endless options when it comes to decor, it can be tough to know where to start. Luckily, there’s really no wrong way to style a bookshelf — it all comes down to personal preference.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for your bookshelf decor, look no further. Here are 11 unique bookshelf decor ideas that will take your at-home library from flat to fabulous. 

Credit: Lisa Dawson

1. Make it colorful.

Go colorful or go home! Create a bookshelf that’s bursting with brightness to add a little life and playfulness to your space. Author and blogger Lisa Dawson filled her gorgeous blue wall-to-wall bookshelves with multi-hued books, artwork, candles, vases, and other decorative accents for a finished look that’s the definition of dopamine decor.

2. Stack your books.

Rather than sorting your books vertically, why not try something new and stack them on top of one another? Freelance interior design writer Sarah Lyon uses this trick in her New York City apartment to store some of her favorite hardcovers in neat piles, mixing in sculptures and trinket boxes to fill the empty spaces.

Credit: Sara Toufali

3. Incorporate plants.

Plants are the perfect way to breathe fresh life into a bookshelf and break up large sections of books, as demonstrated by Instagram content creator Sara Toufali. For a more styled look, pick a cohesive color palette for pots and planters. And unless your bookshelf is right next to a bright sunny window, it’s best to go for houseplants that can tolerate low light conditions like snake plants, pothos, ZZ plants, and more.

4. Flip the books around.

This interior design trick may be hotly contested on booktok, but there’s no better (or simpler!) option if you’re looking to create a neutral scheme with books you already have. Rotating them so the pages face outward — rather than the spines — will give you a light-toned look that blends in seamlessly with the rest of your decor, as seen on this bookshelf by HomeStyled Nashville

5. Organize books by color.

Calling all bookworms — color coding your novels is a fun and visually appealing way to show off an extensive reading collection. Instagram “bookfluencer” Kara’s Reads opted for a white bookshelf as a backdrop, then grouped similar spine shades from white to blue — even stacking them both vertically and horizontally. Top this off with a few colorful pieces of decor, or leave it as is to let the books (and colors) speak for themselves.

6. Layer in decor.

Even if your shelves are packed to the brim with books, you can still tuck in small decor elements for a more personalized touch. Digital creator Polly Florence showcases this here by styling trinkets, candles, and plants in front of and on top of her books.

7. Keep it clean and minimal.

If you’re a fan of the pared-back, minimalist aesthetic, look no further than this expertly styled dining room bookcase by home decor content creator Linnea Jirasek. Stick to a few books or decor items — like candles in cloches or pedestal bowls — per shelf to avoid it looking cluttered. When done right, even just a few well-curated pieces can make a big visual impact in the space.  

8. Feature your favorite artwork.

Art isn’t just for the walls! This Washington, D.C. studio apartment features an eye-catching pink bookshelf with pieces of framed artwork alongside books, baskets, vases, and more. The result is a colorful maximalist’s dream that delivers on both functionality and beauty.

9. Flaunt your collections.

Do you collect more than just books? Use your shelving as an opportunity to show off your keepsakes with pride! This Sydney apartment is a floor-to-ceiling display dedicated to figurines, personal mementos, family photographs, and more. It’s nostalgic, packed with personality, and smile-inducing.

10. Play with rainbow-hued decor.

This Melbourne, Australia apartment certainly isn’t lacking in color, but the homeowner (who also happens to be a children’s book author) decided to bring pops of color to her wall-to-wall living room bookshelf in a unique way. Along the very top, she curated a rainbow display of vintage glass vases that she’s accumulated over the past 20 years. 

11. Create zones for different elements.

While mixing and matching books and decor can lend a cool eclectic look, don’t be afraid to keep things separate, too. This Chicago condo features an IKEA Kallax unit built directly into the wall (making it functional from the rooms on either side) where the books and decor have their own designated groupings, which puts even more of a spotlight on the unique vases and plates.