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Ideas for Decorating Bookshelves with 3 Key Items (you probably already have!)

Thanks for sharing!

Take your cues from the pros with ideas for decorating bookshelves from West Elm – using things you already have!

I just love our living room Billy Bookcase built in wall

While I was in the mood for decorating shelves in the Dining Room for Winter, I decided as long as I was at it, I’d tackle decorating the bookshelves in the living room as well.

Usually, I start decorating by looking for inspiration on my Bookshelf Styling Ideas board on Pinterest.

But, this time, I did something wild!;) I headed to Instagram instead. By typing “#bookshelves” in the search bar, I suddenly had thousands of beautiful options popping up on my feed.

I quickly landed on this picture from @westelm that became my starting point:

This picture of a white bookcase styled in a modern look with a brown leather chair in front with a large plant from West Elm was the jumping off point for decorating shelves in the living room.
Starting with an inspiration picture can sometimes move you past the hesitation and overwhelm of decorating bookcases.

Photo Credit: @WestElm on Instagram 

I wanted to challenge myself to try to get the same look and feel as the picture by using only things that I already had.

In the process, I learned some fun & simple ideas for decorating bookshelves like a pro. Here they are:

1. Start decorating a shelf system from the top to bottom, working on one shelf at a time.

Referring to the picture, I started with the top shelf and decided to work my way down shelf by shelf.

2. When looking for decorations for bookshelves, choose similar items as the inspiration picture, but think outside the box if you don’t have the exact items.

I watched an Instagram story last summer that taught how to arrange planter boxes with “fillers, spillers, and thrillers”.

Although we’re not arranging plants today, the same concept applies to decorating bookshelves. They really only require 3 types of items – and you probably already have them!

  • THE “THRILLERS”

Thrillers are the large objects that stand out. In this case, a black metal basket, chalkboard art board, and 3 white containers grouped together become the “thrillers” in the bookcase story.

  • THE FILLERS

When decorating bookshelves, the fillers are the items that work together with the thrillers. They often contrast against the thrillers, and are the medium sized items that can stand alone or be grouped together. Stacks of books, vases, bowls, candles, and teacups could be some fillers.

  • THE SPILLERS

I think greenery is the perfect “spiller” in a bookcase scenario. It’s a perfect pop of  colorful life and can be sprinkled throughout the shelves.

3. When looking for ideas for decorating bookshelves, use large objects (the thrillers) in a contrasting color to lean against the back of the shelves.

I noticed that West Elm used lots of large, bold pieces in the back of the bookshelves and stacked smaller, lighter colored items in front.

Choosing items that we already owned – like the blackboard sign and large metal basket –  gave it our own feel and personality to the space.

4.Look in your kitchen cupboards for bookshelf decor.

I noticed that West Elm used a variety of modern shaped vessels in its display. I ended up going to my kitchen cupboard and found some nice square and shallow bowls to sprinkle through.

5. Frame a magazine picture on cardstock if you need more art.

As I was getting to the very last shelf, I realized I needed another large piece of art or a dark object. I didn’t find any actual art that I liked, so I paged through a magazine until I found a picture and framed it up!

6. Free printable artwork also works well for bookshelf styling decor.

If you’ve been around here for more than a hot minute, you know I’m just wild for free printable artwork. It is such a beautiful and budget friendly way to add style to your home!

The “Grateful and Blessed” printable I used is available to my VIP newsletter subscibers in the Free Printables Resource Library. 

If you aren’t yet a member and would like access to that and a growing collection of more, click the button below to join today!

For more free printables for your home, check out these options:

7. Put small items with great character in bowls for display.

Old binder clips in a small bowl, is a perfect cherry on the top for an old book and vintage items. If you prefer a more modern look, just group together small items that you love.

8.The Instagram inspired @west elm decorating shelves experience was fun!

Remember the West Elm inspiration picture?

Remember the @westelm inspiration picture?
 

 

Here is our less modern and more “farmhouse” version of shelf decorating – using things we already had!

Want more budget friendly decor ideas?

I have something just for you. I put together a FREE room refresh makeover guide just for you. Click the button below to sign up and receive it today.   

          

 

Thanks for sharing!

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11 Comments

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you like them. I find adding in our own things that we’ve collected over the years helps create our own personal style, too.

  1. Wow, your shelves look fabulous – and I like them way better than the ones from West Elm. Thanks so much for this article it was really interesting and I hope you can do a few more.

  2. I loved your article Rita! Your shelves are so fabulous! I’m gonna have to use your copycat idea for decorating.

  3. YOUR SHELVES ARE WONDERFUL. THANKS FOR THE THRILLER, FILLER, SPILLER TIP. I USE THAT FOR POTS BUT NOW IT WILL HELP ME DECORATE SHELVES, AND I THINK TRAYS WILL BE IMPROVED WITH THAT TIP ALSO. I AM A FOLLOW OF HARBOUR BREEZE BUT I DON’T KNOW THE PASSWORD FOR PRINTABLES. CAN YOU DIRECT ME TO THAT RESOURCE PLEASE?

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