There’s nothing like spending more time at home to make you scrutinize your own displays and decor. But there’s one room element that when done right can really make a great impact in creating a cohesive room scheme, and that’s styling a bookcase the right way. If you already like your shelf and bookshelf decor, well you’ll be surprised how much it can change the feel of the room when you have some fun restyling it. Here are our top tips for properly styling a bookcase or any kind of display shelves.

a mod living room with brown wood paneling and a walnut bookcase.
A mix of interesting objects punctuates the modular case display in this home. Using light colored items helps the pieces pop against the tone-on-tone wood. Photo by Jim Brown.

Clear the Clutter

The first step to styling a bookcase properly is to clear away unnecessary items and edit down your collections. Whether you like it or not, bookcases are a visual magnet in a room pulling the eye with it’s myriad lines and multiple levels. So it’s important to make sure that your bookcase is not overruling or distracting from your room’s overall design scheme. Sometimes a library collection of tomes adds to the eclecticism of a sophisticated and collected space. Other times a full bookcase is more chaos than curation and can make a clean space feel jumbled. Decide which fits your space and be judicious.

a narrow chrome and tiger wood book case has modern modular lighting beneath the top shelf, and a mix of glass and tiger wood levels. The very bottom shelf houses a record player.
Rachel Simmons and Kimberly Adams kept their record station light and well edited in their Ralph Haver home in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Landon Wiggs.

Break up The Spaces

A great bookcase is arranged with dynamism, variation and visual breaks in mind. Arrange your books or objects alternating between stacked and lined, large and small or filled and sparse. When you style a bookcase, the idea is to give the eye a moment of rest in between shelves and areas. This not only adds more interest, but it keeps your bookcase looking and feeling light and interesting rather than heavy and weighed down.

Read More: Mid Mod Styling Trends for 2020

Arrange your bookcases and shelves with maximum visual appeal with these simple ideas.
The homeowners of this Seattle home took advantage of these glass-fronted kitchen cabinets by creating decorative vignettes in each space. Facing some dishes and platters outward helps break up the space and add a creative pop of pattern. Photo by Jim Brown.

Create Layers

A great way to add interest to your bookcases and other open shelving displays is to arrange your items in layers. Treat each section as its own vignette and think about layering a mix of sizes, colors, textures and direction. Face some items that are usually stacked like books and records outward instead to break up the look, for example. Or style a bookcase with alternating layers of full and sparse to keep the visual dynamic and interesting.

an eichler dining room with three modular bookcases all in a row, each decorated with single color collectibles.
Designer and vintage dealer Page Sigband created an eye catching focal point in her Orange, California Eichler dining room by styling her bookcases according to color. Photo by Bret Gum.

Arrange By Color

Want an easy failsafe way to get a polished look every time? Organize your bookcases by color! It can instantly make a collection feel more tidy and curated. Plus it’s a fun way to tap into your creativity and play around with your arrangements and get the hang of the previously mentioned tips.

white on white living room with a arc floor lamp, womb chair and sectional sofa. Colorful pink, ornage and green throw pillows provide all the color in the room.
By keeping the open shelves stocked with all-white and cream items, the homeowners of this Palms Springs home keep the look calm and serene. Photo by Bret Gum.

Play up Repetition

If you want your bookshelf to visually recede, keep it simple and choose items that are similar in color, shape or texture. Think about the elegance of a bookcase filled with a satisfying repetition of ceramic vases or the simplicity of a display filled with all-wood sculptures. The overall feel of a display which plays upon repetition and consistency is almost always calming and artistic.

Looking for more styling ideas? Shop from these mod tablecloths that you’ll want for your next dinner party.

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