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Everything But the Book: How to Style Your Bookshelf at Home

Bookshelves are a great place to display your favourite objects, souvenirs and of course, books. Here’s how you can do more with this space

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By Kimberley Schoeman  | September 15, 2023 | Diy

Your bookshelf can take up a lot space in your home, and they can either stand as a beautiful piece of furniture full of wonderful objects, or a distracting spot for clutter. Either way, your book shelf will demand attention. But styling your bookshelf as a curated centre piece in your home does require simply alphabetising your books or sorting them by genre. Rather strike a balance between books and bric à brac.

Display your books on piles

By stacking your books vertically instead of horizontally, you create the illusion of weight and varying heights. These newfound heights for books also work in harmony with other objects and souvenirs also placed on bookshelves, by contrasting or matching heights. Stacking books in odds numbers retains the spacious aesthetic and pairing your pile with a vase or plant on the same shelf strikes the right balance. You can also place objects on top of your book piles to create a pedestal for special objects.

Create a contrast in heights and silhouettes by stacking books vertically. Image via unsplash

Create mini collections within your book collection

Group different genres of books together into curated parcels especially if you only have a few books of the same genre, topic, or purpose. Group all of your cookbooks together so you can easily find them, for pile your coffee table books for a holistic aesthetic. Curating mini collections within a larger at-home library presents a less overwhelming display of your favourite books and allows you to add extra objects and souvenirs.

Creating smaller book collections within your larger home-library allows for easy access and tiny curated spaces for niche interests. Image via pexels

Incorporate sculptural bookends

Think of bookends as accessories for your bookshelf that accents your favourite books. The best part is anything can be a bookend and you can find great bookends at second hand and charity shops. Also, using bookends to separate different collections of creates balance through negative space, (if you’re familiar with design, think of this like the ‘gestalt’ principle). Odds are, if you have an extensive book collection, you’ll have other objects in your life that bring you as much joy that deserve a spot on your bookshelf.

Use your meaningful items as book ends to showcase the things you love via photographs, a framed moment from a period in your life, or a bluetooth wireless speaker. Adding artwork to your shelves can also guide you on a colour system, especially by leaning your artwork against the back of the bookshelf. If you have multiple artworks, you can layer them in front of each other, or on top of a book pile.

Use your favourite artworks, planters, and vases as alternatives to stiff bookends. Image via pexels

Create a back-splash with paper

Who says wallpaper is only for walls? And who says backsplashes are only for kitchen counters? Your bookshelf can maintain order and structure with a pop of colour too, especially if your home aesthetic is maximalism. Adding adhesive paper to the back of the bookshelf is a low-risk, high reward DIY hack for leftover wallpaper or low-budget decor upgrades. But if you don’t have any leftover wallpaper on hand, a great place to start looking backsplash inspiration is the colour of your books’ spines for a contrasting colour.

Place precious pieces up high and functional storage down low

Your bookshelf does not only have to be a spectacular showcase if intellectual property, it can be a highly functional storage space. The best way to strike a balance is placing storage pieces like baskets, containers, and boxes on the bottom shelf and more precarious pieces on the higher shelves. For instance, showcase your favourite album covers by displaying a vinyl or two on the second or third shelf, but storing the rest of your collection in crates on the lowest shelf. Not only are you creating both functional storage and a beautiful book collection, but you are combining textures through a variety of objects and interests.

Not only is your bookshelf great for displaying your favourite reads, but it’s also a great lowkey storage unit. Image via pexels