This past weekend I finally styled my bookshelf! It only took me 5 years to realize I didn’t need to cram every single book I owned on our bookshelf. But I also didn’t want to have an empty, minimalist bookshelf. So I went on Pinterest to gather inspiration for my shelves.
If you do a quick search of bookshelf styling on Pinterest, you will find that a lot of styled bookshelves have hardly any books on them. We have many books and some of them are so beautiful, I couldn’t bare to pack most of them away. So between pinning and rearranging my shelves again and again, I came up with a few pointers that worked for me when styling our bookshelf. I’ve included below a collection of the best ideas I found on Pinterest and a few recommendations from me on styling a bookshelf that actually has books!
1. Pack up and give away books
In our first apartment, our bookshelf was mix of beautifully bound books from Chris’s collection, old novels that I read as an English major in college, and textbooks from classes that I never even liked. Does anyone else have a hard time getting rid of books? Even if you know that you’ll never read them again? I used to have the same problem, but started to purge a lot after reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Upand the sequel Spark Joy(see if you can spot it on the shelf!). The Kondo Method helped me to see that the books just sitting there on the shelf didn’t give me much joy and they would be better served in someone else’s hands. Moving recently helped too! I decided to give away more books that I no longer have a need for and packed up books that I might want out in a house one day but don’t need to take up space on my one bookshelf in our small apartment. So before you even begin to style your bookshelf - pack up the ones you don’t use now and give away the ones that you know will be better loved by someone else.
2. Arrange your shelves with books first
I knew from the beginning that my bookshelf was still going to have a lot of books. So after purging books and packing up ones I didn’t want out I began to place books on the shelf. While I kept room for other objects, I still was able to fit 53 books on this bookshelf. The beautifully bound ones I placed on the top three shelves and then I made room on one of the lower shelves for mismatched ones. I kept the bottom shelf empty at first.
3. Use what you already have
After going on Pinterest and finding bookshelf inspiration I was so tempted to run out to the Target home and decor section and buy ALL of their cute knick knacks. But after seeing the spaces that I needed to fill around the books, I realized I had everything I needed right here. Everything you see on the bookshelf are items that I already had in different places - but they look so much better displayed on the bookshelf rather than tucked away in a cabinet. A few things I love:
- The blue vase on the top shelf (that was a Michael’s find a few years ago) - The beautiful teapot I received as a wedding shower gift (probably 6 years ago) - The blue vases that I received recently at a friend’s wedding - The picnic basket on the bottom shelf (another gift at a wedding shower too!)
4. Incorporate greenery
So I’ll admit the plant on the shelf is fairly new. I had to replace one that died, but I originally bought it for the coffee table. I really like it on the bookshelf though and since it’s an aloe plant, it only needs a little bit of light. The greenery and flowers that are in the blue vases are actually from a tree in town! The branches must have broke off in a storm, but since it still had flowers on it, I broke a few pieces off and brought them home to put in my little blue vases.
5. Create depth and layers
For the second shelf I wanted to create more depth than I did with the first shelf. I left space open on the right hand side, where I leaned a wood carving of the last supper against the back of the bookshelf and used an old book to give height to my aloe plant. I also purposely angled the journal next to the plant to break up the symmetry.
I’m not an expert interior decorator but I had so much fun styling my bookshelf. I’d love to hear your thoughts and any recommendations. I’m not totally in love with the bottom shelf so if you have any ideas, leave a comment below!