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Wednesday, September 5, 2018


Welcome to My Five Favorites today! Pam from Simple Details, Lisa from Shine Your Light and I are all so excited to share with you today. Our friend Kris from Driven by Decor is taking the month off, she'll be back with us next time.  Today we're spilling our five favorite tips for styling bookshelves.  Shelves are an area that can be tricky to find the right balance when decorating, so we hope that some of this advice is helpful for you today!

We are so happy to have Bethany from Dwellings by Devore as our guest host this month.  Bethany was one of the first bloggers I followed and I was completely star struck by her awesome projects.  Then I got to know her personally (we were even roomies at a blog conference) and I liked her even more!  She has such an eye and talent for putting together clean and fresh yet interesting spaces, with just the right touches of color.

We have a lot of bookshelves in our house in several different rooms, so I find myself using a combination of books and accessories in all of them.  As I looked through photos to gather some for this post, I was reminded that my living room shelves have changed several times over the years, so you'll see several different looks here!  My style has definitely changed through the years but all of the photos still illustrate the tips I'll be sharing.


Obviously, it's our first instinct to line books up vertically on a shelf.  But occasionally, I like to stack some horizontally as well.  It's a good way to elevate smaller items, or add another direction for your eye to go in a stand alone horizontal stack.  This is a good solution too if you have books that might be too large to fit vertically in your shelf.


The back of a bookshelf is the perfect place to add some interest with color or pattern.  My living room shelves have been multiple colors over the years, but my most recent makeover was painting a pattern on the backs of them.  If you like the idea but don't want the commitment, use a piece of foam board or mat board cut to size for each section and cover it with wallpaper or fabric, or paint your own design on it to use.  It's easy to remove if you change your mind later.

You can also experiment with painting the backs an accent color.

In our Office where the shelves are stained oak, I painted just the backs the same color as the walls and it helped to lighten them up for now until we're ready to repaint the shelves completely. 

Also, try hanging things on the backs of the shelves.  A mirror helps open up the space and reflect light, and if you have limited wall space it's also a good opportunity to hang photos or art inside the shelves.  


We have a few shelves of children's books in our office, and storing them in baskets rather than lined up helps keep them tidier.  Using the same baskets keeps the shelves looking cleaner as well. 

I tried to keep things semi-symmetrical on the shelves flanking the desk in the office to have some continuity in the design.  Both top shelves have similar photos and accessories, both bottom shelves have matching storage baskets, and the middle shelves have similar book arrangements.  Symmetry can help keep things from looking too messy, especially when you have large shelves you're filling. 


With plenty of attractive storage boxes, canisters, and containers available these days, it's easy to use open shelves as extra storage while keeping them looking stylish and the things you need at your fingertips.

I store a lot of my crafting tools and sewing supplies in the jars and baskets on our office shelves.

My son's room is very small and doesn't allow for a lot of furniture, so this big shelf pulls double duty not only storing books, but toys, collectables, and things like hats and small accessories in the baskets. Using the storage baskets in the lower compartments keeps the large unit looking a bit more polished than filling all of the spaces with random items.  It's easier to keep it all in order, too!


Every bit of space on your shelves doesn't need to be filled, leave some breathing room.  This shelf in my living room is a little too full now that I look back at it-

I've since pared it down a bit and I like it much better.

The one exception to these suggestions... there's not much better than a real bookshelf totally packed full of just... books!  (like this one!)

Do you love decorating shelves or do you find it a challenge?  It's a little bit of both for me! Don't forget to head over to learn more tips from these talented gals, too.

how to decorate bookshelves

Missed any previous My 5 Favorites posts? Catch up here!

My 5 Favorite Paint Colors
My 5 Favorite Home Decor Accessories
My 5 Favorite Pillows
My 5 Favorite Fabrics
My 5 Favorite DIY Projects
My 5 Favorite Ways to Use Mixed Metals
My 5 Favorite DIY Artwork Projects
My 5 Favorite Tabletop Accessories
My 5 Favorite Recipes for the Holidays
My 15 Favorite- Holiday Wish List
My 5 Favorite Organizing Tools
My 5 Favorite Thrifted Finds
My 5 Favorite Ikea Products
My 5 Favorite Paint Projects
My 5 Favorite Home Gadgets
My 5 Favorite Summer Accessories
My 5 Favorite Beauty and Hair Products
My 15 Favorites- Holiday Gift Guide

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Would you like to comment?

  1. THIS IS AWESOME! I love all these ideas! I can't wait to redo my bookshelves now!!!!

  2. Jennifer storing small items in glass jars is one of my favorites for bookcases too, so glad you mentioned that. Love how your office shelves look with the jars grouped together! Also I'm still in awe that you painted the backs of your living room bookcases with that design, you're amazing.

  3. Great tips and I always love seeing those shelves with the green and white pattern. So pretty!

  4. Great tips! I still can't get over that green and white pattern you painted, so pretty and adds so much!

  5. Glad you found it helpful Ellen! I have a few areas I'd like to work on a little bit now too!

  6. Oh, your painted pattern is SO good, I love the geometric in your signature color! :) The trip down memory lane was fun, too!


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