Books are one of my absolute favorite things to decorate with. This isn’t to say I consider them purely decorative, it’s actually a testament to how much I love them. I put all my favorites on display—classics in a small stack by the entryway table (ah yes, welcome to my home; I studied Virginia Woolf in college, by the way), interior design tomes collect near the coffee table, five novels particularly close to my heart lean cover-out on floating shelves in the bedroom, and little books of poetry are scattered around like it's a scavenger hunt.
The largest collection of books, of course, lives on my ladder-style bookshelf that’s rapidly running out of extra space. Here, thrillers, celebrity memoirs, and the occasional non-fiction volume vie for real estate with to a bamboo plant I’ve managed to keep alive for three years, some photo frames, and vases of dried flowers. I restyle this shelf often, because it’s an easy way to change up decor with items I already have, all while rediscovering books I file away to read again.
Below, find three practical and good-looking ways to rearrange your bookshelf. I’ve tried them all, and will likely try them all again.
What You’ll Need:
Books in various colors and sizes
Small pieces of art
Small decorative objects like sculptures and vases
Arrange By Color
When this trend first surfaced, I admittedly wasn’t a huge fan. I tend to gravitate away from rainbows and more towards a specific color palette, but since I don’t judge books by their covers (ha!) the color palette of my bookshelf is already kind of doomed. Out of boredom one day, I decided to try color-coding my books, and was shocked by how much I loved it. It instantly conveys a layer of cohesion and lack of clutter, even if it is quite cluttered in reality. It also makes the previously utilitarian bookshelf look like a conscious design choice, which I love. You can color-code the objects on your shelf too, matching a yellow vase to the yellow books, and a blue frame with the blue books.
In order to add dimension to bookshelves, interior designers and stylists always, always mix up the placement of books. By this, I mean arrange some vertically and some in horizontal stacks, alternating the stacks on the same shelves or arranging entire shelves differently so one is horizontal and the other vertical. Not only does this add visual interest, it frees up space on the shelves for more decorative objects to sit on and between the stacks. You can also group stacks by books you want to reread or those you haven’t yet read, that way they’re within reach when you finish the one you’re currently on.
Let Decorative Objects Dictate Book Placement
Another thing seasoned decorators do with bookshelves is add decorative objects of all shapes and sizes. Decide which sculptural objects, trailing plants, and pieces of art you want to add to the shelf, and begin placing them to your liking. Heavy items can do double duty as bookends, and leaning frames give natural separation to stacks. Add stacks of books around the objects (try to keep some negative space around them), and work in odd numbers (they’re more pleasing to the eye). Rearrange using your gut as a guide—you’re a stylist now!
Bonus: Turn Them Around
It might sound strange but…people do it. Just turn all the books on your shelf around so the pages face out and the spines face in. My mother thinks it “should be illegal,” and I tend to agree, but sometimes I like to be contrarian. By sometimes, I mean always. Try it out and tag us on Instagram.
What's sitting on your bookshelves (besides books)? Tell us in the comments!
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