How to Accessorize a Book Shelf

ID Collaborative blog post

Have you ever dreamed of that perfectly accessorized bookshelf for your office or living room – you know, the one that looks like the bookshelves in a Pottery Barn magazine or Architectural Digest – only to find that it was WAY harder to put together than you thought? I imagine many of you are nodding your head yes. It’s not as easy as it looks, right? Never fear - here are some tips to help you:

1) In addition to putting books on a bookshelf the conventional way, turn some of them sideways. Doing this not only adds visual interest, but also takes up more space on a shelf! Bonus: You can set a small framed photo or accessory on top of the sideways book

2) If you don’t like the way some book covers look, and you don’t think you’ll read them again, cover them with paper! It could be as simple as a brown craft paper, or you could do a marbled paper…the options are limitless!

3) You need variety on your shelves. Mix books, small sculptures/figurines, photos, decorative boxes, a small pot of succulents, etc. This not only relieves you from the pressure of finding a lot of one single thing to put on your shelves, but it allows for different colors, heights, and textures, which you ALWAYS want when accessorizing

4) Think balance. This is NOT the same as mirroring – we are not trying to repeat the same thing over and over on a bookshelf, unless you think it’s warranted and you like the way it looks! When picturing your bookshelf, if you have a lot of tall, thick books on the left side of the shelf, you want to put something tall and thick on the right side. This could mean more tall and thick books, or it could mean a small sculpture, like a bust or finial. A bookshelf doesn’t have to look like it’s stuffed to the brim – it just has to look balanced .

5) Consider baskets. These take up a decent amount of space (saving you the headache of finding more books/accessories) and you can put stuff in them that you don’t really want out in the open, but that you want to be accessible.

6) If you don’t have built-in shelving, consider what you put on the top of your shelving to round out the look. You can lean a painting or photograph on the top, have a tall plant like an orchid, or maybe some varied heights of pottery vessels. The options are limitless, but when choosing your accessories think of things that are tall and will continually draw your eyes up.

7) Think about the details. If you really want to make your shelves pop, you can paint the back of them a striking accent color; or install gooseneck lighting at the top of the bookshelves. Or, you can build up pieces of trim (like a Greek key molding with a simple crown molding above) to increase the height of your shelves and make them look more stately for a relatively small amount of money…granted you have a friend or spouse handy enough to install them for you

If you’ve tried these tips but are still having trouble mastering the bookshelf, ask a friend or a design professional. There are enough tough things in the world that can’t be helped, and a bookcase isn’t one of them!

How to accessorize a bookcase