Tips for Arranging, Organizing, and Decorating Bookshelves

Bookshelves do double duty as storage space for books and display space for accessories. Learn how to decorate bookshelves so they are both fully functional and pleasing to the eye.

Keep It Simple

For picture-perfect bookcase decorating, resist the urge to pack in accessories on every shelf. Keep a clean look by choosing a one-color or tone-on-tone scheme for vases and figurines, and make sure to mix up shapes. Every so often, step back to assess the overall balance of your arrangement. Place items off-center, or try larger or smaller ones until you like what you see.

Everything Fits

To add interest to your book collection, alternate stacking books horizontally and vertically. One of the best ideas for decorating bookcases is to use decor as bookends. Bold-color accessories and picture frames make great bookends and help the decor stand out on shelves. 

Less Is More

Mod decor shelves call for a sparse look, so group together a small set of books that are all of fairly uniform size. Accessorize with streamlined vases and metallic decor, leaving lots of open space on shelves to let the accessories shine through. Give the whole shelving unit a pop with a smart-color backdrop.

Office Symmetry

To give office bookshelves an organized feel, gather a wide variety of collectibles. Place your chosen items between books, creating loose symmetry. If you have a picture frame or square shape in one shelf, mirror it with a collectible of a similar shape and size on the opposite side. In a wall of bookshelves such as this, it's important to scatter books here and there to punctuate the look.

Color Smart

Carry your color scheme onto your bookshelf to give the room a sense of unity. Here, accessories on the shelves match the light blue of a nearby throw pillow. Storage cabinets conceal items like toys and movies that you may not want out in the open.

Make your bookshelf as practical as it is pretty by using it to display both decorative and functional items.

Decorate Bookshelves with Items You Actually Use

Do you want a practical way for organizing and decorating bookshelves? We've got all the tricks!

Pretty Panache

Don't forget the power of bookends when decorating bookcases! Use heavy, sturdy decor as a bookend to keep shelves neat and organized. Bookends especially come in handy for paperbacks and slimmer books, which are less likely to stay upright.

Bold Yet Simple

If your book spines lack visual style, decorate bookshelves by painting them a vibrant color to draw focus. To highlight the color even more, choose a single contrasting shade, such as the creamy white floor and ceiling trim work here.

Alternative Arrangement

For a display-worthy decorative bookcase, organize books and decor on staggered shelving. A slanted shelf, like this, is even more interesting with uneven rows and columns. For a living room bookshelf, place the most attention-grabbing titles and artwork at eye level for guests to peruse.

Functional Form

Decor shelves are great tools to keep a workroom organized. Slip magazine holders on open shelves to hold loose papers. Storage boxes conceal clutter and can be a bold color to look more exciting. Use decorative containers and flea market finds to finish off bookshelf decor and plant containers.

Jumbled Perfection

Vary heights and create interest by stacking books horizontally; they can then be used as platforms for displaying other objects, like small potted plants. Pull together a small decorative bookcase by arranging the top and bottom shelves in opposite ways.

Lovely Layers

Deep bookshelves give you the luxury to play with layers. Lean artwork along the back of the shelves, and anchor them with books or heavier objects. To decorate the bookcase, place a few small pieces of art near the front of the shelves to give them depth. Bulky vases can hide their heft behind small frames without losing their uniqueness.

Clean Display

Get the most storage and style out of built-in bookcases by filling the shelves with books. Organize shelves by color for a decorative look without accessories. Remember that you can hang decor off shelves as well. These mounted art pieces help break up the lines of books.

Learn how to arrange a bookcase and create perfectly styled shelves every time.

How to Arrange a Bookcase

Try our bookcase decorating ideas and best tricks for organizing shelves!

Great Idea

Bookshelves can be used to create visual interest. A bookended stack on the center shelf mirrors the decor below it, all while contrasting the top shelf of loosely arranged and off-center books. When decorating shelves, offsetting accessories provides the biggest impact.

Switch It Up

Try using up otherwise wasted space with a bookshelf. Chances are good you rarely need more than one book at a time, so keeping books in sight but out-of-reach is actually a more storage-friendly solution than keeping items used more frequently, such as wine bottles, up high.

Art Focus

It's hard to know how to decorate bookshelves with an eclectic style. When you have art pieces that have a variety of styles, they can all work together on a bookshelf, as long as colors coordinate. Blue and white live on each shelf, so the bright statue doesn't look out of place near a golden armadillo.

Little Library

Utilize a built-in bookcase as a fashionable and functional headboard. Sconces are mounted, leaving plenty of room for a library of nighttime reading materials and decor. Add more appeal with adjustable reading lights recessed atop the bookcase.

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