Over the past few years I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes the styling of a bookshelf just right, and I thought it would be nice to share some tips I try to follow myself. A trip down memory lane of our own bookshelf evolution, as well as 10 tips for styling your bookshelf, after the jump!
We were lucky to find our rental apartment in the centre of Antwerp around 5 years ago, because it seemed to be perfect for us at the time. Both Dieter and I had collected quite a number of coffee table books on our favorite topics ranging from architecture and interior design to fashion and film. As it often goes when you’re a
hoarder , eh, collector, things just sort of happened that way without us even noticing. Because we both lived in various places over the years, our Antwerp flat was the first space where everything came together and we were so lucky to have built in shelves in our office to hold the vast majority of our books (as well as a walk in closet). This is what it looked like:
When we bought our current place we got to call all the shots, because we planned a renovation before we moved in. There was a built in bookshelf in our living room, but we wanted one in our home office and decided to mix things up and sell this one instead of moving it. Just to remind you, or show you if you’re new (welcome!), this is the bookshelf that came with the place:
Dieter then designed a beautiful piece with 5m long shelves and carrara marble dividers made by Il Granito. It is beautiful and minimal yet a massive eyecatcher in our office space. What struck me is that, while we could get away with the “library look” (a.k.a all books everywhere, no objects) in our previous space, that wasn’t going to cut it on our marble bookshelf. Nope, this baby needed a different approach, a more curated and balanced look that gave the beauty of the shelves room to breathe.
So here you have it:
10 tips for styling your bookshelves
1. Choose your Books
When we moved into our new apartment, it was a great time to edit. We stored some older books we don’t read that much in our basement, donated some and focused on the books that really inspire us. If you want to keep a book close, but it has an ugly cover, you can cover it yourself like you used to in school or simply turn it around. This obviously makes it harder to find it, but it does keep eyesores out of sight.
To create a playful vibe, arrange books both horizontally and vertically, play around to see what looks best.
Turn less pretty books around for a sleek look.
2. Arrange by theme
I prefer my books to be arranged by theme first. In our case the main themes are architecture & interior, fashion, movies & tv, photography & art and travel. If you have more novels than coffee table books (I keep most of mine in a different cupboard by the way), try arranging them bij genre first.
Categorize by theme first to create a clear arrangement.
3. Then, arrange by color
As we don’t have an unlimited amount of books and it’s relatively easy to find the books within their genre, we arrange them by colour next to create a more pulled together look.
Organizing by colour creates a more balanced and tranquil vibe.
4. Artwork & photographs
Adding art and photographs and adds personality. Having the frames lean on your shelves creates depth and interest, and it has more impact than smaller objects and items could. A great alternative is having books with beautiful covers lean against your wall to showcase them.
Use your art to add personality
5. Vases and plants
I haven’t met a plant that I didn’t like to brighten up a space, and a bookshelf is no different. Plants add color and life. Play around with different types to create a dynamic atmosphere.
Also, There’s no need to store your pretty vases in a cupboard when you can use them to add a pop of color.
A touch of green always works.
6. Objects & curiosa
Your shelves are a great space to display objects. Add sculptural pieces with height for extra dynamic, or smaller pieces for an extra delicate touch. Think outside the box: perhaps you have some beautiful vintage records or your parent’s old camera? Or perhaps you can give an animal a second life, and add a butterfly like in my green hallway.
Image from Laura & Jelle’s home
7. Make it a display of happy memories
In my bookshelves are paintings from London, corals from Brazil and a vase from New York. Each and every one a happy memory when you look at them. It’s your little place where you can showcase things that will make you smile.
Your own little museum!
8. Look at items from the rest of your house
Missing something? Go all Coveteur and showcase those designer shoes, that amazing bag or that beautiful piece of jewelry! This works especially well for the pieces you don’t get to wear that often.
Give your favorite pieces the attention they deserve.
9. Pick a palette for your extra objects
Struggling to keep it all together? Choose a few colours for your objects and be consistent. In our case it’s mainly white and gold in the bookshelf, and shades of green and gold on the living room shelves.
A clear colour palette ties it all together.
10. Cut the clutter
As in so many cases, less is often more. Give your objects some room to breathe. When in doubt, go for less.
Less is more.
If you like this post, check out my 5 tips for styling a vanity table
All images by me, except for the ones of the empty marble bookshelf, they were taken by Michiel Pelerents