How to Style Your Bookshelf

Liven up your bookcase with an easy DIY styling session

Credit: Kristen Gladiuk

Properly placed, small decor items can bring new life to your bookshelf

Bookshelves—or trophy cases, as they’re known to nerds like myself—are too often ignored for their design potential.

Usually one of the largest pieces of furniture in any given room, a bookcase can make a statement when arranged with care. Small decorative pieces can be used to brighten up the hollows between stacks, and your most beautifully designed books can be featured as art.

I doubt that even the most discerning bibliophile takes the time to properly exhibit their literary treasures. To them, a bookshelf may be a thing of beauty, but to others, it looks like a wasteland for hard covers. 

With a little finesse and some small decorative pieces (even the old picture frames that have been shoved under your bed for the past six months will do), your bookshelf can be stylish and functional.

Easy Steps to Styling Your Bookshelves

  1. Purge your unit of unwanted or unsightly books. Think of it as spring cleaning and donate your extras to your local Salvation Army
  2. Gather some frames, small knick knacks, and décor pieces from around the house, a thrift store, or if you want to splurge, check out Liberty on West Broadway or Hobbs on West 41st in Kerrisdale (Vancouver). A Sid Dickens tile on an easel can be a striking addition to any vacant space. 
  3. Find your favourite spines and covers that you wish to feature more prominently and stack them on the higher shelves, alternating between upright and on their side. For a more modern look, keep the stacks tight. For a more country/casual feel, lean books against each other and keep the stacks asymmetrical.
  4. Add smaller décor pieces on already-stacked books. Larger pieces can separate stacks or act as bookends.

Styling your bookshelf is a great way to add more life to a room and give your furniture personality. 

Kristen Gladiuk is a born and raised BC girl and a Master of Publishing student at SFU. She blogs at about her insatiable appetite for books, live music, food and wine, and has been known to write a post or two about DIY wedding planning.