How To Creatively Style Your Bookshelves

The popular Instagram hashtag #shelfie has, at the time of writing, been used more than 600,000 times. Are we a nation obsessed with our shelves? Perhaps! The moniker, highlighting a perfectly styled shelf or bookcase, has become the newest obsession of the house proud everywhere.

And there’s something to be said about a stylishly curated selection of items – it makes you feel like you have your act together. That despite the kids trashing the rest of your home, you still have one little area (perhaps high above their reach) that perfectly shows off your favourite books and objects, that gives a glimpse of your personality, that tells the story of you.

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If you are looking for tips on getting a gorgeous bookshelf without having to spend a lot of money on a complete overhaul, you’ve come to the right place. My tips will ensure your shelves always look styled and will be ready for the aim and click to be shared with the world – or simply enjoyed when you are sat with a cup of tea after a hard day.

It’s not just about the books

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While books will nearly always make an appearance on bookshelves (after all, this is where they got their name), utilising other things within the shelves will always make them a little more stylish. So consider items of different sizes and shapes – everything from vases to bowls to picture frames, plants and candles – to fill in some of the negative space. This will make a bookshelf more than just a place for storage. It will turn it into a display area which will catch the eye and look more effortless than just a bunch of books shoved into the shelves.

Consider the idea of lining the bottom shelves with some stylish baskets as well to store children’s toys or books that can slide out for easy reach of little hands.

Before you start

Gather up a selection of items from your home that you’d like to see on display on your shelves. Vary the heights, sizes and textures of different items. I’ve seen so many shelves with tiny little items dotted around and these little bits and pieces will get lost unless you have larger items to balance them out. So consider things like textural ceramic vases, a few different sizes of plants (perhaps a few with trailing leaves), some larger framed pictures or prints, woven bowls and baskets that fit into the space or personal items like vintage cameras or sculptural objects.

Mix your stacks

While it seems easy to just put the books in with the spines facing outward in a vertical fashion, consider creating a few stacks of books that sit flat on the shelf to break up the look. You can combine both horizontal as well as vertical stacks on the same shelf too to add extra interest.

Be sure to leave some space between the stacks for your display items.

Layer up


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Consider a few items to create some visual layers on your shelves. So perhaps some art leaning up against the back of the bookshelf with smaller items in front of it. Or a tall item like a flower in a slim bud vase with a small candle or a picture frame in front of it.

Remember as well the rule of threes. Our eyes find odd numbers more pleasing so work with odd numbers on your shelves, mixing and matching 3-5 items per shelf (or more if it’s a particularly large or long shelf or just one large item on a small shelf). Stand back occasionally and assess the overall look and feel and swap and change items until it feels visually balanced.

Finish with a few smaller items

You should always start with your books and largest items first and then fill in any negative space with smaller items. You don’t need to crowd every area of available space with something of course. Leave a few areas empty to allow your books and treasured objects a little bit of breathing space.


I hope you’ve enjoyed my little tips today! Be sure to check out our full range of  bookshelves to add beautiful style to any room. How do you like to style your bookshelves?