Bookcase Basics

For many of us, what used to be display space has, over time, turned into a convenient spot for stashing stuff. Bring those cluttered shelves back into focus with these helpful tips.


  • Lesson 1: Grouping light and dark items together makes arrangements more pleasing.
  • Lesson 2: Horizontal stacks of large books visually ground a shelf and are restful to the eye. The stack can be used as a base for accessories, adding height where it's needed.
  • Lesson 3: Create a focal point for each shelf by packing away smaller items and replacing them with fewer larger accessories. Notice how the large accessories are staggered left to right throughout, creating an interesting visual rhythm.
  • Lesson 4: On each shelf, leave a little empty space where the eye can rest. Hide less attractive paperbacks in decorative baskets.
  • Lesson 5: Confining layered picture frames to one shelf results in less clutter.
  • Tip: If you have a bookcase or cabinet with multiple shelves, make sure to stagger items on display so they're not aligned from shelf to shelf.
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