How To Style Bookshelves

We recently added some bookshelves in our living room and I have loved moving things around and decorating them! I probably spend way too much time on them, to be honest (you can ask Jake). But once I move one thing, I end up rearranging the whole shelf! Haha! It’s kind of like a fun puzzle to put together. I have had several people ask some questions about the shelves so I thought I’d write a little post about them to show how I do them.


These shelves are actually just IKEA Billy bookcases that we mounted to the wall and then trimmed out ourselves to make them look “built in.” And when I say “ourselves” I actually mean my AMAZING sister-in-law who loves a good DIY project. She headed this whole project up for me and roped Jake and our cousin Joseph into helping her and they did an amazing job! I still need to paint the trim and fill the nail holes but I am amazed at how well they turned out. They really look like real built-in shelves! 


To style bookshelves, there are a couple of things I do:

  1. Use a good mix of photos and words. Personally, I don’t like to use too many photos on my shelves. I usually choose my very favorite photos to frame and display and put the rest in a photobook. I also have several framed prints or signs on my shelves.  I like to use quotes, words, or scripture that really means something to me and or is encouraging or uplifting in some way.
  2. Use a combination of finishes and textures. I like to use neutral wood tones, baskets, chippy older pieces, glass bottles, and different metals such as galvanized trays, brushed gold pots or candles, and iron pieces. 
  3. Add some green plants (faux or real) to your shelves to give them some life and color. I’m not the best at keeping plants alive… haha.. so I like to use faux plants here and there on my shelves. My favorite faux plants are the little plants from Ikea. These are really cute and inexpensive! I don’t think that you can order them online but if you live near an Ikea, they are usually in the marketplace area at the end.
  4. Mix old and new items. I love the vintage, old farmhouse look but I really like mixing my favorite old things with newer, clean neutrals. Think outside the box! You don’t have to fill your shelves up with books only. You can use candles, frames, old boxes, things you have collected over the years, etc. In the words of Marie Kondo- “anything that sparks joy”! Haha!
  5. This last one is a big one and not everyone is a fan of doing this, but I really think it makes a big impact. Place your books on the shelves with the binding against the shelves and the pages facing outward. Some people really do not love this idea, and yes it does make books much harder to find haha! But for the sake of keeping it neutral, I love the look of the neutral beige and whites pages as opposed to the many different colors of the bindings on my books. This is a personal preference, but I really believes that it changes the entire look of your shelves! This really wouldn’t be ideal for shelves in an office or place where you need to use the books on your shelves regularly, but if your shelves are mainly for storage and decoration- this is a great way to keep them neutral.



These are just things that I do! Never feel like you have to go buy items to decorate. Use the things that you have around your house that you already love and make them work. I hope this was helpful!  If you all have any other tips or ideas for styling shelves, leave them down below. I’d love to hear them! Happy weekend friends!fullsizeoutput_4d56

One thought on “How To Style Bookshelves

  1. Ok love this! I can’t believe these are IKEA bookcases! This whole time I was sure they were built-ins! Also, love the idea of the pages of the book facing forward! I never thought of that!


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