Styling a Bookshelf: The Beginner's Guide |
Design 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Styling a Bookshelf

Design 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Styling a Bookshelf

#Shelfie alert!

Written by –
Jess Ng
on April 18th 2018
Born and raised in the UK, Jess is NONAGON’s resident historian turned marketer turned writer, drawn to Hong Kong by the lure of dim sum breakfasts and bustling city life. A foodie who loves to cook, food occupies 70% of her brain 90% of the time. When not eating, Jess can typically be found buried in a book or obsessing over making NONAGON’s Instagram #feedgoals.

Looking for an easy way to inject instant style into your abode? Well look no further than the humble bookshelf. Contrary to popular belief, transforming a room doesn’t have to involve bringing in a new sofa, or installing new flooring. Sometimes the most effective change can come from subtle tweaks and modifications. That’s where the bookshelf comes in.


Consider artfully re-arranging your bookshelf to create a stylish focal point. In doing so, you can make your room feel polished and put together, even if it’s actually not! And you’ll have an excuse to jump aboard the #shelfie trend. Read on to find out more.

Start With a Theme

Whether it’s color or style-based, having an overall theme in mind will make it easier to choose complementary pieces to showcase on your bookshelf.

Styling a Bookshelf: A natural bohemian-themed bookshelf vignette with rattan tray and green plants |

This is one of the secrets that will take your shelf from being a mismatched afterthought to a well-styled focal point.

Begin Styling With Larger Items

When it comes to styling a bookshelf, you’re going to want a mix of larger items and smaller trinkets to create little vignettes between your books.

Styling a Bookshelf: Luxe-inspired bookshelf styling with hourglass and crystal jade green jewelry box |
Styling a Bookshelf: Crystal-topped perfume bottle atop a stack of books |

Placing in the larger items first will give you a general idea of how your shelf will eventually look. These larger items will then form the anchor around which you will style the rest of your shelf.

Add in the Books

Although it’s easy to get carried away with style over function, don’t forget what your bookshelf was originally designed for!

Styling a Bookshelf: Warm nature-themed bookshelf styling with candle and bird ornaments |

When choosing which books or magazines to display, it’s important to consider how their covers fit with your overall theme. If you’re going for the rustic look for example, try to source vintage-looking aged books with a shabby-chic vibe.

Styling a Bookshelf: Shelf details with hourglass ornament and glamorous jade jewelry box |

Or for something a little more glam, try incorporating glossy magazines. You may even want to place your books with the spine facing inwards if you’re struggling to create a collection that is aesthetically cohesive.

Styling a Bookshelf: Luxe crystal perfume bottle atop a stack of books |

To take your bookshelf game to the next level, mix up the placement of your books. Try stacking some horizontally and others vertically for instance. Or for one shelf, align the books centrally, and for another, arrange your collection to the side.

Think Beyond Books

Once you have the books in, it’s time to get creative with your other treasured trinkets and ornaments.

Styling a Bookshelf: Warm bohemian bookshelf styling with white frame art print and rattan tray |

Small decorative items which are in keeping with your theme are key here. To create visual interest, play around with their arrangements. You may want to cluster some pieces together on top of a pretty box or tray for instance, or even a stack of books. This will also help to bring some height to your shelf – a must for drawing in the eye.

Styling a Bookshelf: Rattan tray with candle and wooden bird ornaments |

For an effortlessly natural, lived-in look, make sure to variously overlap some of your decorative items, and place others at a slight angle. Lastly, when grouping items together, always remember that objects look better when styled in a group of three.

Finish with Greenery

When in doubt, always add in some greenery.

Styling a Bookshelf: Bohemian-inspired bookshelf styling with green plant details |

Be it sunshine florals, jungalow greens or bohemian succulents, plants and flowers work to give life to your shelves, making them the perfect mood-boosting finishing touch.

Did you enjoy learning how to artfully style a bookshelf? Then show us some love by hitting the heart button and sharing this article with your friends!


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Shop The Story

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Sing yourself songs of the woodlands, and make your nest a cozy home for these wooden lovebirds. These unvarnished birds are left with a natural wood aesthetic, perfect for a Scandi-boho vibe. For even more fun you could paint them in your favorite colors for an easy DIY project.
Sorbet Porcelain Bowl Set
Three matching cup shaped bowls in a pastel sorbet color. Perfect for soup starter bowls, ice cream, rice bowls or for serving breakfast. Dainty in shape, but sturdy in the hand.
Round Handmade Rattan Tray
Handmade and sturdy, the rattan tray looks great in every room.
Ceramic Cactus Lamp
Add a charming warm glow to your evening decor with this cute cactus lamp!

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