Styling Bookshelves: From Cluttered To Curated In Simple Steps

Styling Bookshelves: From Cluttered To Curated In Simple Steps

Styling Bookshelves: From Cluttered To Curated In Simple Steps


Bookshelves are not just practical storage solutions; they also serve as an opportunity to showcase your personality, interests, and style. However, it’s not uncommon for bookshelves to become cluttered and disorganized over time, losing their aesthetic appeal. If you’re looking to transform your cluttered bookshelves into curated displays that are both functional and visually pleasing, this article is for you.

The Importance of Styling Bookshelves

Before delving into the steps to style your bookshelves, it’s essential to understand why it matters. Well-styled bookshelves can:

  • Enhance the overall aesthetics of a room
  • Showcase your interests and personality
  • Create a focal point or visual interest
  • Make it easier to find and access books and other items
  • Promote a sense of organization and tidiness

Styling Bookshelves: From Cluttered To Curated In Simple Steps

Step 1: Declutter and Organize

The first step in styling your bookshelves is decluttering and organizing their contents. This process helps you determine what items to keep, what to donate or discard, and what can be relocated to other storage areas.

Start by taking everything off the shelves and sorting them into categories. Categorize your books by genre, topic, or author, and consider grouping other decorative items together. This step allows you to see the full extent of your collection and identify any duplicates or items that no longer serve a purpose.

Once you’ve sorted your items, it’s time to assess the space available on your bookshelves. Consider the proportions of your books and decorative pieces, ensuring they will fit well within the shelves. This evaluation will help you determine if you need additional storage solutions or if you can rearrange existing items to optimize space.

Organizational Tips:

  • Use bookends to keep books upright and prevent them from sagging
  • Consider arranging books both vertically and horizontally for visual interest
  • Group similar items together, such as plants, vases, or collectibles
  • Leave some empty space to prevent overcrowding and allow for future additions

Styling Bookshelves: From Cluttered To Curated In Simple Steps

Step 2: Select a Color Palette

Choosing a color palette helps create a cohesive and visually pleasing look for your bookshelves. Consider the overall color scheme of your room and select a palette that complements it. You can opt for a monochromatic scheme, using variations of a single color, or a complementary scheme, combining colors opposite each other on the color wheel.

When selecting decorative items, aim for a balance of colors within your chosen palette. This balance will prevent your bookshelves from appearing too busy or overwhelming. Introduce pops of color strategically to add visual interest and draw attention to specific items.

Color Palette Ideas:

Monochromatic Complementary
  • Shades of blue
  • Tones of gray
  • Earthy browns
  • Blue and orange
  • Green and red
  • Purple and yellow

Styling Bookshelves: From Cluttered To Curated In Simple Steps

Step 3: Balance and Symmetry

Creating balance and symmetry in your bookshelf arrangement adds an element of harmony to the overall display. Balance can be achieved by distributing visual weight evenly across the shelves. If you have a large decorative item on one side, balance it with a smaller item or a stack of books on the other side.

Symmetry is another way to create an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. You can achieve symmetry by mirroring the placement of items on one side of the bookshelf to the other. This mirrored placement can involve both books and decorative pieces.

Tips for Balance and Symmetry:

  • Vary the height and size of items to avoid monotony
  • Place taller items towards the ends or in the middle to create balance
  • Break up monotony with vertical stacks of books or decorative objects
  • Use symmetry for a more formal and orderly look

Styling Bookshelves: From Cluttered To Curated In Simple Steps

Step 4: Layering and Depth

Layering items on your bookshelves adds depth and visual interest to your arrangement. By creating different levels of depth, you can highlight specific items and prevent a flat, one-dimensional look.

To achieve layering, consider placing a smaller decorative item in front of a row of books or using a stack of books as a pedestal for another item. This technique adds dimension and creates a sense of depth within the shelves.

Layering Tips:

  • Place smaller items in front of larger ones to create depth
  • Use decorative bookends to frame sections and add visual interest
  • Experiment with different heights and depths to find the most visually appealing arrangement

Styling Bookshelves: From Cluttered To Curated In Simple Steps

Step 5: Personal Touches and Displaying Collections

Your bookshelves are an excellent opportunity to showcase your personality and interests. Consider incorporating personal touches and displaying collections that are meaningful to you. Whether it’s a collection of vintage cameras, seashells, or art pieces, these items can add a unique touch to your curated bookshelf.

When displaying collections, avoid overcrowding the shelves. Instead, select a few key pieces to showcase and rotate them periodically. This approach keeps your bookshelves fresh, prevents visual clutter, and allows you to enjoy your entire collection over time.

Ideas for Personal Touches:

  • Showcase artwork, framed photos, or travel souvenirs
  • Display a collection of vinyl records or antique books
  • Include sentimental items that hold personal significance
  • Use decorative objects that reflect your hobbies or passions

Styling Bookshelves: From Cluttered To Curated In Simple Steps


Transforming your cluttered bookshelves into curated displays doesn’t have to be daunting. By following a few simple steps, you can create bookshelves that are not only functional but also visually appealing and reflective of your style.

Start by decluttering and organizing your books and decorative items. Then, select a color palette that complements your room’s overall design. Create balance and symmetry by distributing visual weight evenly and mirroring placements. Add depth and visual interest through layering and consider displaying personal collections or meaningful items.

Remember, styling your bookshelves is an ongoing process. Don’t be afraid to experiment, rearrange, and add or remove items as your tastes and interests evolve. Enjoy the process and watch as your bookshelves transform from cluttered to curated showcases of your personality and style.