One thing that seems to cause many of my clients and friends a lot of decorating stress is arranging bookshelves. I’ve been there…You arrange. You rearrange.
It STILL doesn’t look like those dang pictures on Pinterest.
You obsess over “getting it right”, and somehow that just makes things worse. Suddenly you just want to leave the mess you made and eat a cookie. Take a deep breath (and maybe that cookie). It’s about to get a lot simpler. Today I’m sharing my tips on how to style a bookshelf as well as a styling class that will teach you everything you need to know to get a gorgeous shelf.
Styling a bookshelf is a little bit science and a little bit art. It’s a lot like creating a new recipe. Sometimes you still have to play with the “ingredients” to get it right. Rarely does a bookshelf come together on the first attempt.
I’ve arranged more bookshelves than I can even remember, and in fact I even created my e-course, The Bookshelf Styling Class, that shares my specific step-by-step method for bookshelf styling. Here are just a few quick tips you can try on your bookshelf…
1. DISPLAY A COLLECTION
It seems obvious, right? But how you display it is the key. Think about items that have some physical characteristics in common. Weed out the ones that seem to stand out from the pack. I chose to display a collection of white ceramic urns and vases. Using a monochromatic collection automatically brings a cohesive sense to a space. Instead of spreading out a collection-which can actually make things looked cluttered-group like items close together.
Ok, this may not be everyone’s jam. You think it looks too much like a box of Crayola’s? I get that. (I just happen to love me some crayons.) It took a little while for me to get on board with this idea. I decided to try it here with a green themed shelf. You’ll notice several hues from citrine all the way to emerald. This variation in hue is what gives color grouping some dimension. (Plus trying to match hues exactly will drive you bonkers.)
3. LAYER OBJECTS
This is one of the top styling principles for any space. (I have a entire video lesson on layering in my decorating class.) Layering elements on bookshelves gives depth and a “collected” look. Try using art work as back drops for nic-nacs. Use small accent pieces in front of or on top of books. Using different shapes in the background and foreground of the shelf is really important.
Artwork doesn’t always need to hang on a wall. Prop art up on your shelves and showcase it. Stacking a smaller piece of art atop books can give it needed height. You can use paintings, prints, or even framed pieces of fabric. I used some of my favorite grey and gold Japanese wave fabric to add pattern and serve as a background for layered items. Also, you have more freedom to place artwork lower when using on a shelf rather than a wall.
5. STACK BOOKS VERTICALLY AND HORIZONTALLY
Actually, there are seven different ways you can stack books, but choose at least these two. Make sure to balance the books among the shelves. If you use one shelf for all the books, it will automatically have a “heavy” look. Try instead to spread out mini-stacks among the shelves.
It took me three different arrangements and dozens of combinations within each arrangement to finally settle on one. I played around with all the “puzzle pieces” and even slept on it. I came back the next day and tweaked it some more. It’s ok if you need time to feel it out. Give yourself the freedom to do this.
When cooking, sometimes the “secret ingredient” is the odd ball you never would have suspected would work in the context of the recipe. This is the same with styling. My odd ball is the neon green “busty lady”. Everything else on the shelf has a pretty formal vibe. She shakes things up a bit and keeps it from looking too stuffy.
(Oh, do you see my 2nd “child”? Yes, that leafy thing on the left. Well his name is Newton, and he’s almost a year old. If he lives to see his first birthday there will be a party with cake and ice cream and singing. No lie.)THE BOOKSHELF STYLING CLASS
After working with hundreds of clients and styling their bookshelves, I actually came up with a specific method that gets gorgeous results every time. (Kind of like that recipe I mentioned earlier:)In The Bookshelf Styling Class I teach you how to use your existing pieces, shop smart, and EVERYTHING you need to know to get a bookshelf that is both functional and beautiful.Head on over and check it out!