Bookshelf Decor 101:
  How to Decorate a Bookshelf Like a Pro

Bookshelves take up a great deal of visual space in your home, so they need to be appealing and well-decorated. If your bookshelves are boring, it may be time to upgrade your bookshelf styling. Whether your bookshelves suffer from clutter or are just uninspired, you’ll love these bookshelf decorating ideas.


1. Play With Scale

Create interest in your bookshelf decor by introducing a variety of elements of different sizes to keep things balanced. If you have a number of small items, offset them by introducing a larger item. If you have a shelf of large coffee table books, mix in some smaller elements in order to keep the shelves from looking lopsided.


2. Balance Visual Elements

Remember, you’re looking for overall balance rather than symmetry or “matching” shelves. That means balancing right and left sides, top and bottom, and even diagonal flow. Let your eye travel through the room and then through the bookshelves, and make adjustments where there is empty space or an unusually heavy or cluttered element. Remember to adjust for perspective as well -- items on higher shelves look smaller because of forced perspective, so decorative elements on high shelves may need to be larger to compensate.


3. Stack Books

Get out of the habit of thinking vertically when creating attractive bookshelves. Stacks of books laid horizontally help to break up the endless rows of book spines. Stacked books also work for

  • Coffee table books that are too large to stand upright

  • Particularly attractive books that you want to highlight or show off

  • Books of a common theme that you want to group together

  • Books that tell a story through their titles

  • Books in a series, like the Harry Potter books, or the collected works of a favorite author


4. Don’t Be Afraid of Color

Color is one of the best ways to create visual interest in a bookshelf. You can use color in a variety of ways.

  • Create a beautiful backdrop by painting the back wall of the bookshelves in a contrasting color or by covering it with a bold patterned wallpaper

  • Separate and organize books by the color of their spines or dust jackets, rather than by theme, author, or alphabetical order

  • Intersperse clusters of colorful and bright books stacked horizontally while keeping the more neutral books vertical in order to introduce pops of color throughout

  • If your bookshelves include closed cabinetry, paint the doors with an unexpected color that echoes some of the colors found in your favorite books. By matching the books rather than the room or other furniture, you create a more cohesive look for your shelves so that they make their own statement.


5. Get Sentimental

Bookshelves can sometimes appear generic, filled with current best sellers or “important” books that everyone owns. Introduce some whimsy and personality by bringing in elements that are special to you and your family.

Adding a shelf full of your family’s favorite children’s books is a beautiful way to acknowledge their influence and importance in your life. Include your wedding album and your children’s baby books on a shelf alongside a wedding photo and baby pictures. Ask your parents and siblings what their favorite books are, then intersperse copies alongside family photos to create a gallery everyone will love to look at when they visit.


6. Add Decorative Items

Remember bookshelves aren’t just for books. They’re a great place to display favorite items like memorabilia, elegant vases and bowls, plants, small statues, small lamps, and other decorative elements. Add a fun and fanciful touch with antique toys or a favorite collection. The idea is not to create storage for a huge number of items -- that will look cluttered. The idea is to intersperse books with one statement piece per shelf or a small grouping that really makes an impact.


7. Mix It Up

Think in terms of the look of the shelves as a whole rather than focusing on each individual shelf. Mix a variety of elements in order to create an overall, cohesive look. Mix decorative elements with books, high brow with low brow, personal with professional. Add humorous moments, pop culture elements, or whatever you like to make the bookshelves speak to your style and your home.


8. Try Creative Bookcase Décor

There are a variety of fun and funky bookshelf styles that you can use to update and upgrade your home’s look. Try shaped shelving, especially in a child’s room or family room. Convert a piece of furniture -- like a corner cabinet or an armoire -- into a beautiful statement piece by adding shelves. Turn the deadspace in a staircase, window well, stair landing, or even a forgotten corner into a unique setting for decorative bookshelves. You’re only limited by your imagination!


Remember that there are no rules when it comes to decorating your bookshelf. Just like with the rest of your Pulte home’s decor-- make it fun, make it memorable, and make it you.


Contributed to Your Home blog by Christy Murdock Edgar

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 8.30.18

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