Styling a bookcase. At first thought, it doesn’t seem so hard right? But in reality it was a really, inexplicably hard thing to do! And apparently I’m not the only who feels this way. I know this because when I shared how weirdly hard it was, people chimed in with their similar, weirded-out stories of how styling a bookcase took a lot of time. Me too. It took me months and I’m not even joking.
To be honest, the last bookcase I owned was when I was a little girl, and there was nothing styled about it. I suppose in my early adult years there were bookcases or shelves that existed in rented homes, then my husband and I bought our first house together 15 years ago and guess what? Not a single bookcase purchased. So, when we purchased this bookcase, I had no idea what to do with it. It sat there for months with just a few, random items on it.
Getting The Bookcase Groove On
One day I decided it was time to finally deal with our sad bookcase. Armed with Emily Henderson’s book Styled, some videos from Studio McGhee, and dozens of Instagram shelfies, I was feeling totally inspired. Until I realized I didn’t have stuff to put on the bookcase. I didn’t want to go out and buy things just for the sake of filling up the bookcase. This is why it took months to “deal” with the bookcase. Things suddenly came into my life, like my Mom’s travelling clock from the 1980s, and a retro ashtray from my childhood home (back in the days when guests were allowed to smoke!). But my favourite piece is my Dad’s piggy bank from when he was a child in Denmark. He was supposed to break the pig open at some point, but refused because he loved it too much.
Five Steps to Good Shelfie Game
Here are my five steps to styling a bookcase:
- Think one, two or three. This is, in my opinion, the most important thing to keep in mind because it keeps things from getting cluttered. Basically, think about which shelves will have one, two, or three focal points (max). It may seem odd to have just one focal point on an entire shelf, but trust me, it works! On my bookcase, the top shelf has a single focal point, followed by (going downward) a shelf with two focal points, then another two, three, one and three at the bottom. Vary it up – you don’t want two shelves in a row with just one focal point.
- Book stacks and big items first. To anchor the space, place all the big items on your shelves first. This includes stacks of books together or individual pieces. Make sure each shelf gets at least one big item to create a balanced look.
- Create groupings of 3 or more. Group collections (vases, bottles, cameras, etc.) together in groups. Vary the heights to create visual balance.
- Add a few meaningful items. These may include frames, artwork, or heirlooms. This is your chance to showcase those few meaningful stragglers. The keyword here is “few.” If you start adding lots of items your bookcase will suddenly look cluttered.
- Add a plant. If you place your plant at or near the top of the bookcase, choose a trailing plant, which frames the shelves as it moves downward.
The Last Word…
Remember that if things don’t look right, check that you have “balanced” the large items throughout the bookcase – not too many in one particular spot. And if things still don’t like right, you may have too many items. Start removing things and see how you feel.
I hope these five tips will simplify your bookcase styling journey! And if your pets like to hang out in strange places (like mine do), you may want to consider creating a special place for them in your bookcase too. 😉