Make Your Shelves Look Better With These 4 Easy Bookshelf Styling Formulas

Bookshelves can be one of the most daunting things to style. I always say my dream would be to have a grand room with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves but the truth is, staring at those shelves would be like staring up at a huge mountain I have to climb. Thankfully, four years at EHD has taught me that there is a styling formula for almost anything. Lo and behold, we have discovered some no-fail shelf styling formulas that EHD has been using for years and years. If you feel lost, stuck, or just plain exhausted with making decisions, the following four formulas are foolproof and will make your shelves look like they were styled by an actual pro (that’s you!).

First, to help guide your quest, a couple of ground rules we swear by:
1. Maintain a consistent color palette.
2. Mix up the shapes, sizes, and scales.
3. Include a little greenery.

Now that you know the basic rules, let’s dig into the formulas.

FORMULA #1: 2-3 Books Stacked Horizontally + Object On Top

design by corbett tuck | styled by velinda hellenerik kenneth staalbergemily edith bowser, and julie rose | photo by sara ligorria-tramp

Our first tip for styling bookshelves is to start by stacking books horizontally. This will immediately add visual interest and will inform how much more space you have to style with objects other than books. When you stack books horizontally, there is often space above so our favorite trick to take up that unused space is to add an object on top. This could be a lidded bowl, a precious family heirloom, a vintage vessel from your travels, or truly anything you love and want to look at every day. Above, a stack of three books (in ascending size) is coupled with an aged sculptural vessel which adds shape and color to their shelves.

photo by zeke ruelas | from: moody midcentury home office

In the above home office, Ginny peppered in books and objects to create an open yet collected look. The horizontal books are topped with round, sculptural objects which adds movement and texture to the shelves. How cool is that wood-lidded bowl??

FORMULA #2: Art leaning + Multi-Sized Objects Layered in Front

design by dee murphy | styling by velinda hellen | photo by sara ligorria-tramp

Adding art to your shelves is one of our favorite styling tips that can add color, shape, height, and personality. We love the relaxed look of leaning art (as shown above) which also draws your eye to the back of the shelves, making them seem deeper and more open. Now the trick to styling around leaning art is to layer layer layer. Depending on the scale of the art, you can layer 1-3 pieces in front which will create a collected look and will impress all your friends. Just make sure your objects are varying in height, shape, and scale so it is easier for your eye to understand.

design by velinda hellen | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: velinda renovated & furnished her “fixer upper” for under $55k…here’s how

If you have several art pieces you want to display, you can absolutely layer art in front of art. Just make sure the frames are different sizes and layer the smaller one is in front. We love how Velinda executed this on her custom shelves in her living room.

FORMULA #3: Display A Collection Of Objects Of Varying Shapes And Heights

I am someone who loves my things. I know I am not alone and it’s something we design enthusiasts have to come terms with. I love my vintage coupe glasses, my collection of antique candle sticks, and what would I do without my many lidded bowls and vessels?? Luckily for us, shelves are the perfect display case for objects if done right. Remember the second rule from the beginning? It will come very handy here. Basically, you can absolutely group together several objects as long as they vary in height, size, and shape. If you have a collection of similar objects you want to showcase just make sure they are not identical to avoid your shelves looking too uniform.

For example, in Emily’s Glendale home, she styled her built-ins with many of her favorite objects and some collections, too. The three teal vessels on the right are similar but not identical so they add personality without being too matchy-matchy.

FORMULA #4: 3-5 Books Vertically Flanked By Bookend Or Object

design by rosa beltran | styled by velinda hellen | photo by sara ligorria-tramp

As much as I love my things, I might love my books even more. If you saw my living room reveal you know I have a bookshelf entirely dedicated to books. This reminds me, you can always style your bookshelves with just your books, full stop. However, if you have a lot of books AND want to sprinkle in objects and found things that is of course an option too. To accomplish this look, again start by stacking your books both horizontally and vertically. Once you have done that you can see where your objects make the most sense. With the grouping of vertical books, we suggest flanking them with objects or bookends to create space between the individual vignettes within the shelves. The more sculptural the object the better to add intrigue and movement to your shelves.

And there you have it! These four formulas have never failed us and make styling shelves so easy and fun.

Do you have any other styling questions for us? Be sure to drop them down below. xx

Opener Image Credit: Design by Velinda Hellen | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: How To Make Your Smallest Room, The Coziest Room In Your Home + Sara’s TV Room Reveal

The post Make Your Shelves Look Better With These 4 Easy Bookshelf Styling Formulas appeared first on Emily Henderson.

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