In this article: Take your cues from the pros and learn that decorating bookshelves can be done with confidence. Get a high end look 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:
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 tricks for decorating bookshelves like a pro. Here they are:
1. Start decorating bookshelves 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 styling 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!
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.
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.
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. 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:
- Modern Farmhouse Printables for Spring
- Farmhouse Printables for Fall
- 100+ Botanical Printables
- Favourite Printable Art for Christmas
- DIY Christmas Sign + Free Printables
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!