5 Easy Ways to Style a Bookshelf or Display Unit

Interior Design and Decorator Tips, Styling

We all have bookshelves and display units in our homes that no doubt function well, but do they look good? Is it possible for such a piece of furniture to look good and function well? I give a big resounding absolutely, yes! Shelving units can not only function well but can also look amazing when they are thoughtfully styled and curated to house your treasured items, book collection, art or family photos, decor items, nik naks collected during travels or passed down to you from loved ones. I’m not sure about you but I see bookshelves or any flat furniture surface as a perfect opportunity to create updates that then freshen up my home giving a whole new look.

There are a few things I consider before launching into styling a given piece though. I look at the location of the piece of furniture and what feel that location is trying to achieve. A sitting room that only has seating, a simple coffee table, and then the shelving unit you intend to style could easily be filled with a variety of display items as it won’t overpower or visually crowd the room. There is plenty of white space for the eye to move too. If the unit is right next to the tv and you are a person that would like a visual rest between the busy happenings that the TV can bring, then you may choose not to over-style that open shelf unit with excess clutter but rather pair it back so anxiety isn’t triggered. It really is a personal preference for you and your family to factor into your home’s interior design.

1. Start with a blank canvas. Trust me a clean slate allows you to start fresh and not style things like you always would. Change is a good thing. Take everything out of your bookshelf or display unit.

2. Carefully curate your items to determine which ones you want to go back in the bookshelf or display unit. It may be the perfect opportunity to declutter. A crowded unit isn’t what we are wanting to achieve here but rather one that has some breathing spaces in its shelves.

3. Think of the unit as a whole visual statement to help design how you want to style it.

4. Create groupings. Use each shelf to tell an interesting story. Group items together that are a similar colour palette, theme etc… as this will read far more interesting to the eye.

The shelving in this kitchen shows horizontal, vertical and sculptural elements that pop against the white background.

5. Mix it up. Ensure each shelf has some books, decorator items, family photos in frames. Using the formula of mixing items that are Horizontal i.e. a trinket box; Vertical, i.e. a tall vase; and Sculptural i.e. an ornament of a sailing ship for each grouping that you make, means that your shelving will look visually interesting and dimensional.

We hope you find these tips helpful and enjoy creating some new looks in your home with them. You can also see further examples below of work we have done for our clients that shows some of our bookshelf and display unit styling.

Happy Decorating,


P.S. Have you accessed our Style Guide yet? It’s free. It’s a PDF that will help you determine your unique Interior Style that you can then use as a guide when making all your decorator decisions be it buying furniture, choosing a paint colour, picking a rug this guide will help you save time and money by giving you the know-how to confidently create your dream space. Get it here:  http://eepurl.com/cEqrHL