Kimberley’s Guide to Styling a Bookshelf

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Kimberley’s Guide to Styling a Bookshelf

Add order and style to a bookshelf like a pro

Perhaps it’s time to really organize those shelves. Consider a variety of objects from books to framed pictures and collectibles to create a personal and interesting background for your room. Here’s a step-by-step guide to styling this important vignette well.

Photography By Simon Burn

STEP 1 Begin with bare shelves. It’s easier to think when you start with a clean slate. Take everything off and be open to a vastly different solution if you are restyling existing shelves.

STEP 2 Determine the mood. Decide how you want the bookshelves to feel when they are completed. Consider the immediate surroundings and aim for harmony. Should the shelves be lively and dramatic, adding to the room’s overall atmosphere? Or, do you want the vignette to enhance a feeling of calm and order? Will you display books you actually read, or books you’ve collected because you love the leather binding?

STEP 3 Give the shelves a purpose. Everyone expects to find books on display, but it’s possible to add more interest by giving shelves a specific task. For instance, how about setting up the bar on a low surface? In the photo, we’ve added a silver tray with a decanter and ice bucket, creating a minibar. You might decide to add a stack of board games or a basket for your knitting projects—ideas that put the shelves to practical use.

STEP 4 Shake things up. Provided shelves are adjustable, removing a few allows you to make a bigger design statement. In the photo, we removed a shelf to accommodate a painting and some taller vases.

STEP 5 Create order. Symmetry enhances a feeling of orderliness. If shelves are large, create one shelf and then mirror that vignette on the opposite side of the bookcase. You can also label shelves with tags as we’ve done in this photo.

STEP 6 Add personality. Show off your collection of treasured objects. Add artwork or forego the typical family photo gallery and use bookshelves to display your favourite snaps. Quirky bookends can also add personality.

STEP 7 Assess the results. As you create different vignettes, take a photo and look at the design results objectively. You’ve had lots of experience looking at design magazines and gorgeous photos, and you know instinctively when you see something that works well. Does the completed vignette feel balanced? Is it too cluttered to create the zen mood you are aiming for? Edit your initial attempt and rephotograph the results.

With practice, a winning solution will appear and you will hone your skills as an ace stylist.

Kimberley Seldon


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