Styling Your Bookcases

by | Feb 10, 2016 | Crafts, Decorations | 0 comments

Styling Your Bookcases

This DIY Gal and her family love books! My little DIYahoos learned to read when they were three years old and never looked back. So, in my decorating, I love to make books the stars of the show. You would think this would be easy when decorating a bookshelf, but a Google search for “How to decorate my bookshelf” will come up with thousands of pictures of beautiful bookshelves, most of them missing… the books.

I don’t want a bookshelf with 10 token books surrounded by cute decorations. I want a place for books… lots of books! So, today, I want to show you how I style the bookshelves in my home. As always, I try to keep costs down using inexpensive materials that will still create a beautiful finished product.

I started with a boring black, Ikea bookshelf. It is sturdy and functional, but not all that stylish. I’ll walk you through 5 of my favorite styling tips to help you create a beautiful bookcase that showcases the books!


#1 Create a Changeable Bookcase Backdrop

My very favorite trick to styling a bookcase is to create a changeable backdrop. This means adding fabric or other material to the back of the bookcase to give it a pop of color or an interesting texture. Some people create this look by wallpapering the back of their bookcase. I prefer to make it easy to change out when I get tired of the pattern or color. I created my backdrop using a cardboard box and some leftover shelf liner that I loved the pattern on.


  • Carefully measure the inside of your bookcase. My bookcase came with a stationary middle shelf, so I measured the two sections separately.
  • Next I measured out two pieces of cardboard that would fit snugly on the inside.
  • Wrap the fabric, wallpaper, or in my case shelf liner, that you choose around the cardboard and hot glue it to the back of the cardboard.

  • Lastly, put the two cardboard pieces in the back of the bookcase and put the shelves in. You don’t need to worry about securing the cardboard because the shelves will hold it firmly in place.

Voila! Already, the bookcase is so much fresher and more interesting. The white pattern lightened it up and created a great backdrop that will showcase the books. And when I get tired of it, I can simply remove it and cover it with something else without damaging the bookcase at all.

#2 Group Like Books Together

This is the tip that will allow your favorite book series to shine. Books that are the same size, style and/or color make for great focal points on your bookshelf. Intersperse these series throughout the various shelves to create anchors among the many other books.  I particularly love hardback books or books that come in their own case because you can stand them up without requiring a bookend.

#3 Stack Books in Multiple Ways To Create Interest

One of the best tips in styling a bookcase is to use multiple ways of stacking books. You can stack them standing up, on their side, or even stack things on them. The variation in height will add tons of visual interest. Books stacked on their side can also be used as a bookend that will hold other books up.

#4 Showcase Special Books

If you love the look, texture, and feel of books as much as I do, you know that books can be decorations in their own right. Look through your books and find some that are particularly beautiful or interesting. They can become the focal point by displaying them facing out so their covers can be seen. We lived in New York City for three years while our children were young, so I love the nostalgia that our “123 NYC” book brings. It is also colorful and full of pizazz. I thought it was the perfect book to display as a centerpiece. Be creative and find your own ways to decorate using your special books.

#5 Add Decorations

Finally, it is also fun and stylish to add some decorations to your bookcases. I am a huge proponent of only using things in your home that you love and that have meaning. So, instead of buying decorations that fit current fads, I love to use personal things that will bring joy to my family. I chose my grandparent’s antique lanterns, photos of our family and former homes, and bookends featuring a little boy reading as some of my filler decorations. While I think they create a beautiful effect, they are also full of memories, so I believe they are the best of both worlds. You may need to move things around to create the effect you want. Feel free to rearrange books and trinkets to find color combinations that are pleasing to you. Look for balance from side to side, as well as up and down. For example, you don’t want all the pictures grouped on one side, a shelf with no decorations at all, or a whole shelf of only short books. Move things around until you find the right combination. Lastly, don’t be afraid to leave a little bit of open space. Open space helps your eyes focus on individual books and objects and is more pleasing to the eye.


And there you have it… a bookcase where books are still king. There are approximately 100 books on each of the bookcases in our front room, so they are still completely functional as a place to store books, as well as being a focal point in the room. Now, go try some of these ideas in your own home!