“Styling” Bookshelves

Styling Bookshelves

It takes more than built in Bookshelves, custom raised panel wainscoting and a plank ceiling to create a beautiful library.   

Creating a library takes books and creating a beautiful library is all in how you  style your bookshelves.  “Styling” is just a fancy word for “putting stuff on the shelves”.

How to go from here… 

 To here!

Styling Bookshelves


1.  If  you don’t have enough books to completely fill your bookshelves YET, you can fill up some empty space by leaning a few books up against the end of a row of books.  I do this on several random shelves, alternating the angle on different shelves.  

    Library with White Painted Built-In Bookshelves

2.  Use some chotchkies but don’t overdo it.  They are bookshelves after all.  Use just enough to break up the monotony, to add some variety of height, color and texture to what the books provide by themselves.
Library with White Built-In Bookshelves
3.  Use recurring colors throughout the room.  I used a lot of brown/wood and red on my white bookshelves.  There are a lot of red book covers on my shelf.  I love ALL the colors but feel that the red dominates.  I made sure to disperse the red books throughout the bookshelves so it would feel balanced.  I also brought in the red pillow to pull that color out and unify the entire room.  
Library with White Painted Built-In Bookshelves
See how much better it looks with the red pillow than the white?  (Or maybe you like the white better.  Whatever, it’s your room.  Do what you like.)
Library with White Painted Built-In Bookshelves
4.  Use what you have, love what you use and move stuff around until it makes you happy!  I don’t want perfection.  I want it to look happy, homey and welcoming.  
I randomly placed things I’ve accumulated over the years unto the shelves to fill empty spaces and bring  more color and texture into the room.  
Library with White Built-In Bookshelves   
5.  Use Structure and Order …but be Random! 
  • I like to organize my books by height.  I try to put books that are relatively similar in height on the same shelf.  
  • On shelves where I want a single topic of books to be placed, I put the tallest book on the left and gradate down to the shorter books.

Library with White Built-In Bookshelves 

I like to be random about how the books sit on the shelves.  Some are straight and tall.  Some are stacked in piles.  Some are lounging around all slouchy, leaning on one another…almost ready to fall over.

Library with White Built-In Bookshelves


But even amidst my chaos –is order.  The stacked books go from largest to smallest and the slouchy books are all the same height.

Library with White Built-In Bookshelves


6.  Above all,  make YOUR eyes happy.  You are the one living in your home and enjoying your space so you are the one who gets to decide what works for you.  

Styling Bookshelves

Put on some good music, dance around like a crazy person and have fun Styling your Bookshelves!

Partying at Home StoriesAtoZ


  1. Ahhhh, lovely and love all the style details you provided. I’m imagining you now spending your days sitting on those chairs getting absorbed in novels, I would sure love to. Inspired me to add more books to my family room bookshelves that are presently primarily tchochkes!

  2. It’s been a while since I popped in on you (sorry!) so this is the first I’ve seen of your library progress. LOVE it! Great job styling too. :)

  3. Your bookshelves look great, thanks for posting your tips! I’ve got this linked to my home libraries post too today, well done!

  4. Love it, love it, love it!!!

  5. Liz VanKirk says:

    Beautiful as always :-)

  6. I am so impressed with you! Not only do you have mad building skills but amazing decorating skills as well.

  7. So beautiful! Wow. I love the red pillow. Perfect!

  8. Why did you choose to point your chairs toward the door rather than the windows? That seems like such a non traditional choice, it would have never occurred to me.

    • It may not look as small as it is because of my wide angle lens, but that room is tiny. I tried many different furniture layouts when I was trying to get my feature light in there and this is the only way it really works. Plus, I like the chairs to face the door. I don’t like people being able to sneak up on me.

  9. I don’t recognize enough of your books to be able to make a literary in-joke, darn!

  10. How many times can I say “LOVE!” Well, how ever many times, that’s how much I LOVE this space! Great work. It’s stunning.

Speak Your Mind