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Posted: Friday 5 March 2021

Our Guide to Styling Bookshelves


Styling bookshelves certainly comes with practice, and our designers have had a lot of practice over the years. It is one of our designer’s favourite parts of our installation and handover to our clients. So, we are going to talk you through some tips for styling a bookshelf so that you can get a professional look at home.

No matter what the scale of the project is, before we start to procure any accessory items, we plan them in the studio. We need to get the plan of the space along with specifications of the FF&E as well as fabric swatches. From there we create a list of areas which will require dressing listing items to source for each space. Although we carefully plan and curate the accessories in the studio, we may change things when we get to installation based on how we feel on the day and how many of our clients existing items we have.

It is important to pay attention to details including colour, form, texture & height. You do not want to have a white shelving unit with white accessories as they will just blend together (unless that’s your uber slick look you’re going for!)  We want to flatter any other feature tones within the space. If the key colour for the scheme is Navy, try to place the navy vase you have brought within the white shelving & balance this with a neutral, shorter object.

Start With Empty Shelves

If you are wondering where to begin with how to style your bookshelf, we need to firstly start afresh, so empty those shelves so you start with a blank canvas. This is a great chance to give those shelves a dust and wipe down!

When we are on our installation, we unpack all the accessories and put them into their allocated piles ready to be styled, you can do this in your own home by laying out all your items.

Go Big!

Height is vital when arranging accessories and creating a composition of interest, so the first thing we do is we start with the statement large items. You can see we have placed these on opposite sides of the shelving to give balance.

Books on Books

Once we have placed the big items, we next start with our larger books. This particular client had an amazing collection of beautiful art books. From the collection we selected the books with a similar colour to the rest of the room scheme, this was a great way to get colour onto the shelving. Lay larger books horizontal and stack them on top of each other, we aim for 2-3 on top of each other and this gives a lovely look. If you have any smaller novels you want to include, places these vertically.

Place collections

We then move on to placing items in collections, depending on your sizes of shelves will depend how many groupings you will need. Often, styling shelves requires many takes of stepping back, and reworking the objects, until you feel happy.

Layer Artefacts

Always try to add an item of interest – sculptures and plants are a great way to give the styling composition that final touch.

Then Pictures

To get personality into your shelves we always like to use our client photos and artefacts they have collected over the years.


Everyone loves a beautiful smelling room, and with so many wonderful candles and diffusers on the market you can use these as styling pieces as well as for home fragrance, try to layer these & be mindful of the size of the space which you are dressing & the look that you are trying to create.


Finally, give yourself visual breathing space and leave a place for new objects you collect along the way. You do not have to fill a gap just because you feel you must; leave that space for something you really love when you find it. Take a step a back and look and your newly styled shelves!

Just remember there is no right or wrong way to styling YOUR bookshelves.

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