How to Style a Bookcase Like a Pro: A Step-by-Step Guide

Beautiful bookcases don’t happen by accident. They take forethought, planning and balancing. When styled correctly, any bookcase can become the focal point of a room. Here we’ll show you how to style a bookcase in a way that doesn’t just have aesthetic balance but brings that balance to the entire room.

If you’ve ever seen a bookcase in a magazine that you found absolutely breathtaking, it’s likely to have been professionally staged and balanced with color, weight and spacing. You may not have even noticed that bookbinding colors have been strategically coordinated with the window treatments nearby. However, it is this indiscreet coordination that has impressed upon your mind. These are precisely the hidden touches that make styling a bookcase a success.

How to Style a Bookcase?

Step 1 – Clear all objects off the bookcase so you can work with a blank canvas. Chances are you won’t be reusing all the items, so find a new home for those that won’t be returning to shelves.

Step 2 – While the space is empty, give the bookcase a good cleaning.

Step 3 – Select a color scheme for the bookcase. Of course, there will be many different colors of accessories and books on the bookcase, but you do want to select a color scheme that will help anchor the unit itself. Typically the best way to choose a color scheme is to pull a color out of the room itself. For example, if your sofa has dark green accent pillows, this is a color that will transfer beautifully as the anchor to the bookcase.

Step 4 – Choose a secondary color, again a shade that is repeated in the room, as an accent. For example, if you have mahogany furniture, you can pick up the red tones from the wood and accent it on the bookcase itself. Brown would also be a nice choice in this example.


Step 5 – Place one object on each shelf that features a sizable object showcasing your accent color. This object may be a vase, candle, photo frame, oversized book, bookend, etc. Having this primary color displayed in this manner will give color balance to space.

Step 6 – The secondary color can be featured on smaller objects such as book bindings or small accessories.

Step 7Organize the bookshelves by placing evenly weighted objects on the left and right sides. For example, if you have a heavy bookend on the left side of the bookcase, balance it with another heavy object on the right. The objects do not have to match, they simply need to share a visual weight with one another. Lighter objects can be placed between heavy ones.

Step 8 – Style a bookcase by placing taller objects in the back, medium-size objects in the middle, and small objects to the front. Maintain a visual interest by combining varied depths and height on each shelf.

Step 9 – The amount of objects you put on each shelf is entirely up to you, but remember this – odd numbers are visually more appealing than ever. Why? It gives the eye a center to focus on.

After you have finished styling a bookcase, step back and examine your work. If you’ve done it correctly, the bookcase will feel like a part of the room and not an object in the room.


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