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Novel Ways to Style a Bookcase

Novel Ways to Style a Bookcase

One of the great mysteries of interior decorating is what room a bookcase should go in. The living room, your bedroom, the dining room, a hallway? While there is no definitive answer, besides a study or home office on the off-chance that you have one, the most common choice for bookcase placement in the UK is the living room. This may not come as a surprise to those who have seen all the “bookshelfies” online displaying perfectly curated bookcases sparsely decorated with inspirational art pieces and globally collected Tchotchkes. However, for those of us who aren’t so well-versed in the art of styling a bookcase but excel at owning tomes and trinkets, some more inspiration may be needed.

The intimidating world of online displays

Firstly, you need to decide whether the shelving unit is to be the focal point of whichever room you place it in or if it should blend in with the décor. Placing two bookcases side-by-side alludes to a sense of grandeur and creates a built-in look, whereas putting them either side of a TV or fireplace adds to a homey atmosphere and maintains the focus on that area of the room.

It is then advisable to edit out as many of your possessions as possible in order to avoid over-cluttering your unit; even if you don’t want influencer-worthy sparseness, leaving small gaps between ornamentation helps to make the whole room appear tidier. This is especially true of piles of books stacked on top of one another, which can look beautifully effective when done sparingly but messy and accidental if not done in an obviously deliberate way, such as a maximum of one pile per shelf. Odd numbers of coffee table books work particularly well when stacked by theme, and you can complete the look with a scented candle or a bud vase on top of the stack to create a cosy finish. 

Carefully space decorations and stack books

Industrial Light Medium

Use a bookcase as the focal point of a room

Adelaide Tall Bookcase

As well as the number of books on each unit, it would be prudent to consider the aesthetics of each one that you do decide to keep. Larger works of art and literature - and large storage baskets - are better on lower shelves, while smaller items should be kept higher up to create a visually appealing set-up. If you want to create a more natural aesthetic, or if you just want to deviate from the norm, try turning paperback books’ spines towards the wall and have their pages facing the room. This brings a rustic and vintage air to any room, especially with well-read novels. Add a large trailing plant higher up and small potted succulents towards the bottom of the unit to enhance this effect.

If you prefer a colourful shelf, use a dark unit to make the colours pop, and order the shelves in rainbow sequences or choose a small group of dominant hues to repeat throughout. This works particularly well if you have a key accent colour in your room, as you can match it with small accessories so your bookcase ties in with the rest of the space. Some people prefer to sort their book collections by author or genre rather than colour – which helps to keep series together when they have different covers. Another popular method of organisation is alphabetically as it makes finding your favourites much easier. For children’s bookcases, however, a rainbow order helps to keep things tidy because kids can put their own books away in the right place when they’re done with them, and will often recognise their favourites by cover rather than name or author.

Turn spines towards the wall for a more natural look

Colour-coding books is particularly helpful for children

In order to create interest and draw the eye, be sure to vary depths and heights within the shelves. Take vinyl albums and intersperse them with singles, lean books against each other to introduce a less regimented look, and add organic shaped vases for contrast against the solid lines of the unit itself. If you want to display photos, try putting an ornament in front of the frame, or angling the pictures slightly behind one another to vary positioning on the shelf. Surprisingly, bookcases are an excellent way of showcasing your personality. All of these little touches help to demonstrate who you are as a person, and placing items together that reflect your character is a great way of making the whole home feel cohesive and intentional. Using practical yet stylish pieces like decorative bookends helps to bring the room together.

Industrial Light 4 Shelf Bookcase - Wild Oak Finish

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Adelaide Tall Bookcase
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Posted by Kara Llewellyn
30th August 2023

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