How to Arrange a Bookcase


Styling a bookcase can go beyond alphabetizing your books. After all, it's your home and not a public library. Use your books as part of the decor that expresses your style. The colorful spines, typography, and even the words in the titles can help set the mood of the room. And when you artfully arrange your bookshelves with decorative accessories, you can create a vignette that's versatile, functional, and beautiful.

Styling Your Bookcases:

  1. Clear out and clean everything. If you already have items on your book case, take everything off and give every shelf a thorough dusting. Clean off all your decorative accessories, and gently dust your books.

  2. Evaluate your book collection. If you have books that you never read, donate them to a school or library. If you have worn out paperback books that you love, why not replace them with a new hardcover copy? You may just want to move some of the books to a bookcase in a different room where you would use them more; for example, you can keep books about art in the living room and books about software or writing in the office.

  3. Adjust the shelves the way you like. Some bookcases have adjustable shelves, so take advantage of that while they are empty and make a few of the shelves larger than others. This will add visual interest as well as give you places to display larger decorations and coffee table books.

  4. Think about how the whole bookcase will look. When you stand back in the room, how will the bookcase look as a whole? If you have a theme or color scheme for the room where the bookcase is, choose objects and books that go with it. Keep everything in a similar color palette or look for similar textures that can be repeated on different shelves. Try to balance the visual weight of the different shelves while still creating a "rhythm" with varying heights.

  5. Group together books and objects to see what works. Start by placing books and objects together on the floor or on a table to see what colors and sizes complement each other. Count the number of shelves that your bookcase has, and create that many groups of objects. Put together books with similar colors on the spine and choose an object that can be placed on the stack, if you lay them on their side, or next to the books, if you stand them up. Colorful vases, pretty clocks, small sculptures, framed photos, and little potted plants can all be incorporated into your bookcase.

  6. Start filling the shelves with your groups of items. Lean framed art, mirrors, or serving trays against the back of the bookcase, and put your books and accessories in front of them. Don't try to completely fill each shelf because that will look cluttered. Depending on how large or tall your bookcase it, you may want to have a high shelf that only has one large decorative item on it. If you have books or items that you need in that room but that aren't as attractive, put them in a basket or decorative box on one of the shelves.

  7. Don't be afraid to change it now and then. Think of your bookcases as a living piece of art. You can rearrange it to highlight different objects, pull books out to read them or lend them to friends, and bring in seasonal decorations for different holidays.

Shop Bookcases  Shop Books  Shop Decorative Accessories
See All Guides  Read More Home Guides  Learn More about Home Decor