Accessorizing Built-Ins

Built-in cabinets and bookcases are one of the most desirable architectural accents in a home. Sought out by buyers and valued by homeowners, built in shelves and cabinetry add practical storage and a place to showcase your personality. The trick is how to style them so that they look attractive yet also serve the purpose of storing your necessities and keepsakes. Here are some inspiring images I rounded up, with helpful tips on accessorizing built-ins in the home.

The five best built-in bookcase fillers will always be 1) books 2) decorative boxes or baskets 3) ceramic or sculptural objects 4) artwork and/or photographs and 5) favorite mementos. 

built in library shelving

When you combine several of these categories and stagger them between shelves, you’re sure to end up with a stylish display.

white built in cabinets

The key to a well balanced presentation is proper scale and careful editing, and the incorporation of color, pattern, and texture through clever repetition. Fill smaller cubbies with singular objects and larger spaces with stacks of books, patterned boxes, or baskets.

family room built ins


family room built ins bhg

Take a cue from this simple yet stylish sitting room and fill shelves with framed family photographs in black and white in a gallery style. Couple them with a few small sculptural objects and favorite artwork.

black and white pictures on shelves bhg

Hanging framed artwork on the front of your bookcases is another way to add interest and also showcase favorite prints or unique paintings in large or small scale.

art on bookcases bhg


built in bookcase in bedroom

Painting your built-ins something other than white is guaranteed to bring drama to your home. Deep charcoal adds a sophisticated touch to a home office, and blue glass front built-ins add both color and storage in a family room.

painted office built ins

blue painted built ins


Wood finishes are warm and inviting – highlight the unique beauty of the wood by purposefully leaving empty space around collectibles so that the grain is visible, and choose objects in lighter colors and sculptural shapes that stand out against the stain.

styled wood bookcases

 single object in wood built ins


Do you have built-in bookcases or open shelving in your home? What strategies do you use to fill them with style and personality?



3 Responses to “ Accessorizing Built-Ins ”

  1. We recently painted our built ins with a nice accent color to give them pop. The color steals the scene and allows for minimum accessories.

  2. Not all of us have white built ins. Thank you for showing two with wood stained. That is what I have next to my window seat and was disparity of seeing those accessorized.

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