Bookshelves are no longer a purely functional piece of furniture. They are now part of an exceedingly popular trend that sees their use go further, becoming a display not only for books but other decorative features.

While styling your shelves may take many different directions and should be unique to your home and style, keep in mind the interior of the room to avoid it standing out for the wrong reasons. The aim is to strike a balance between form and function. So, once you have chosen a theme, whether that is a color scheme or interior design style, try and stick to it. Here are some tips to get you started on styling your bookshelves.

Go big

Assess your bookshelves and start with larger pieces you want to include. Items such as larger coffee table books, a fabric basket or artwork should be placed first to give a good idea of the space left to work with.

Art is life

Pieces of art will automatically add a creative element to the shelves and, depending on the size and structure of your shelves, you can choose pieces as big or as small as you like. Layer smaller frames against larger ones or use frames to capture passions such as music or food. Your grandmother’s old recipes displayed in frames will add a personal, homemade touch.

Mix it up

The standard “upright from left to right” book stack is no longer required. Play with the height and depth of the shelves and the books. Try stacking books flat in a pile or from right to left with a bookend. If you have a lot of colorful books in your shelves, why not try color coding for an impeccably coordinated look.


Interesting finds from your travels or pieces that have been handed down through the family can now be displayed for everyone to enjoy. These can dress the bookshelves effortlessly so choose objects that are in keeping with your chosen theme and work well with the overall look of the shelves. Try not to clash traditional and modern styles.

Green is good

Indoor plants are a major trend now, so adding a touch of greenery to your shelves will instantly add color and texture. Let a potted ivy trail down the front or group together a selection of smaller potted cacti and succulents.


Incorporating ceramic or metallic accents into the shelves will add to the layers of textures that you are creating with artwork and greenery. Marble trays or brass-framed terrariums are perfect additions.

Personal touches

As part of your home, this showcase should have photographs and items unique to you. These are usually great conversations starters and give guests an insight into your home and your life. Family photos, favorite books and interesting finds are all personal aspects that can be incorporated.

Follow Fibonacci

A mathematical pattern found in nature, the Fibonacci sequence determined the number of spirals in the flowers of a sunflower bloom, the scales of a pine cone and the fleshy leaves of many “rosette-shaped” succulents existing in the sequence of 1,2,3,5,8 etc. Whether grouping plants, photo frames or artwork together, following the natural beauty sequence will make your bookshelves more appealing to the eye.

The final edit

When you have finished step back and take a critical view of your creation. Now is the time to make any final edits. Does it look to busy or too bland? Maybe it needs an injection of color. Less is more in this instance so if it feels too busy take something out and embrace the balance of blank space.