Courtney Thomas
April 24, 2018

4 Simple Tips For Styling A Bookshelf

I know. Who has time to style a bookshelf? On the list of “get more sleep”, “finish field trip slips” and “buy more socks” bookshelf styling is a distant, distant priority. Maybe, though, with spring cleaning, it’s time to give them a second chance.  And not some “Look useful. Hold this book” second chance. Maybe it’s time they got a leading role. Here’s what I like to do to bring them center stage:


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Adding a pop of color or greenery brings the outside in. Some of my favorite go-to’s are high quality faux and drought tolerant plants. Why? They’re low maintenance, but add life to the space. Pro-tip: size matters. Scale the plant to fit the shelf.


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If you have a kindle or a reading app, you probably have fewer books than you would normally. You also have more shelf space. Don’t eliminate all those books, though. Books add visual dimension, weight and, literally stories. Every time I see a favorite book of mine at someone’s house, I want to call a book club to order. Immediately. I have so many questions about their thoughts, reactions, feelings… Put your favorite books in a prominent place. Have a well-loved copy of Austen, Mark Twain or Dickens? They can be great platforms to anchor lighter items on top or stacked flat to elevate items at the back.


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They tell the stories of the things we love. Framed photos and artwork bring life and character to the bookcase and create a focal point. These pieces showcase favorite trips, candid family moments or feature your favorite artist.


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The conversation starter. This is that piece that makes people take a closer look and want to know more. Maybe it’s an antique timepiece that came from your grandfather, a childhood toy that reminds you of your first house, or the random bowl you picked up by chance at the flea market because you thought the vendor was cute (that might’ve happened).

Bookshelves aren’t lost without books. They can be over-sized shadowboxes showcasing your stories, family, and personality. They share a little bit about you with the people who visit your home. Let them tell your story. Opening the medicine cabinet in the Powder Room…borderline invasive, but getting curious about bookshelf items? Conversation icebreaker. What story does your bookshelf tell?  If you do have a funky flea market find that you bought because the vendor was cute and you didn’t want to be rude, I need photos. Stat.

Courtney Thomas Luxury Interior Design Services

Courtney Thomas, ASID

Principal & Lead Designer

My job is to make spaces functional in their layout, comfortable in their use, inspirational in their style and luxurious in their appointment. In that order. For that one moment after installation, the pictures are perfect.

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