3 No Fail Accessories for Styling Your Bookshelf

I get a lot of reader questions in my inbox or through instagram direct messages. I always LOVE your questions, so I while I directly answer the email, I've begun keeping a list of them for blog posts. Today I'm answering a question I get a lot: what are my go-to accessorizing or bookshelf styling items? I'm glad you asked ;) Styling is one of my favorite parts of design, as it's like the finishing touch on any room! 

When I was in design school ( and I still do this today!) I studied images of bookshelves or other styled areas of the home, in magazines or found on Pinterest that I found aesthetically pleasing. What did they all have in common? What was I most drawn to? I would try to dissect the image and then recreate it with items I already had. Studying something you love and find beautiful, then creating your own version is one of the best ways to learn not only what you like, but what works together well design-wise. 

Alright, let's get to it.

1. Books. As you can see below, they can be styled many different ways, even within one bookshelf. They offer height, texture and color, and are a great layering piece. Anytime you have a stack of books, be sure an object sits on top of it to ground it and finish it off! Books are also a great way to take up a lot of area space on a shelf. If the spines don't match, not problem! Turn them so the pages face out. My husband will never understand this, because it's not practical to him (ha!) but it does keep the shelves looks more cohesive, if you're focusing on a specific color story.
Photo: Apartment 34

2. Larger objects that take up visual space. Whether this be a gnarled piece of wood, baskets, a geometric object, vases (I love using these, see below in my bookshelf!) or larger art or framed photos, the bookshelf needs something of substance. One of the biggest mistakes I see with styled is using too many smaller objects that don't make a statement. 
Photo: Curated Interior

3. Plants & smaller accessories. Strategically placing plants and living things, like little arrangements or succulents is a great way to diversify the color green and give the shelves texture. Something fresh on a shelf is always a breath of fresh air among many objects. I also always finish off shelves and bookcases with smaller accessories like candles, little picture frames, and small objects (like I a birds nest I love or my hourglass).
Photo: DIY Playbook

Here's a peek at my bookshelf how it is currently decorated (don't mind the nest thermostat in the background...):

We have books stacked different ways, larger decorative objects (vases, birdcage and basket), a plant (just one right now, which is abnormal for me!) and smaller accessories to fill in (a small picture, copper candle, and candle sticks). You can see our summer bookshelf is really simple, but I think each piece is the appropriate size for the shelf which is so key in creating a pleasing look.

You can totally shop your house to find items to use for your shelfies (haha...this still kills me!) I do this often as I want to change the look up a little. But if you need some new ideas of what to put on your shelves, find a bunch of my go-to items below:

natural wood pillar candle / natural colored baskets / marble and glass terrarium / gold tray / blue vase / cacti / silver sphere / alabaster bookends / ampersand / pink globe / wood carved bowl / white vases / sail boat / gold candle sticks / plant

*For pretty "coffee table books" I get them here at Anthropologie, or get inspiration there, then order on Amazon if it's a better price! All my other books that aren't pretty or the spines don't match, I turn those so the pages face out. Anthropologie did it in a display years ago, so they made it okay ;)

And before I sign off for the day, I should give you some basic styling principles:

- We see things as most pleasing when grouped in odd numbers, specific sets of 3. 
- Try to maintain a cohesive color palette in your styling.
- Keep with the correct proportions of your shelf (a huge item on a tiny shelf will dwarf the shelf even more),
- Use balance in styling. This means that there should be equal visual weight on all parts of the shelf. It doesn't need to be symmetrical, but it should be balanced. For example, the horizontal books on the top left have the same visual weight as the books stacked vertically with the marble frame on top, to the right. They're not the same objects, but they are equal in visual weight, which makes the bookshelf feel balanced.
- Avoid styling things by height (in descending or ascending order). Instead, try to mix up the height of things to keep it interesting.

What are some of your favorite items to use when styling a bookcase?

Happy Thursday!

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1 comment

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