Neelam Interiors / Tips and Tricks  / Styling 101: Bookshelves
Home Office Interior Design Altadore Calgary

Styling 101: Bookshelves

When I first delved into the world of interiors – professionally – I struggled with what to call myself.  I hesitated to call myself a designer as I’m not formally trained and decorator didn’t quite feel right. It’s only been in the last few months that I’ve come up a title – Stylist. I style spaces. From finishes to furnishing to accessories, I style.  I’m an interior stylist.

I share this only to offer context for today’s post all about – you guessed it – styling one of my favorite things – bookshelves.  I love books, I have boxes filled with them in my storage room in the hopes that one day I’ll have enough space to dedicate to them. Complete with a rolling ladder.  While there is nothing more I love than shelves and shelves filled with books, the overall effect isn’t always the most aesthetically pleasing.  And although not every space in a home needs to be perfectly styled, bookshelves in open living areas I believe require a little more attention and should be dressed with intention. Perhaps leave the shelves over flowing with books for the office, where you can close the door 😉

Bookshelves are also a great place to showcase who are, where you’ve been and where you’re headed. So why not display things in the best possible way? Here are my best tips and tricks to styling bookshelves.

Against the Spine

This one is controversial, but I’m a stickler for symmetry and balance and since not all books have white spines (rest assured when I write a book, the spine will most definitely be white!), turning books with the spine facing back creates a uniform look with relatively little work. If you can’t get behind this trick, grouping books by colour is another option.  Just be sure to pick colours that coordinate with the rest of your room. This will create an overall effect that is well thought out and interesting without being overwhelming, which I promise reverberates into all areas of your life.


I love adding art to bookshelves. I especially love layering art. Doing so gives the shelf depth and is a great way to break up the monotony of books.  Photos of family and friends are also great, but think about printing them in black and white or sepia for a monochromatic and tone on tone effect.

Group Like with Like

When displaying decorative items try grouping those with similar colours and textures.  When I’m styling a space, I’ll often spread everything I have to play with on the floor and then see what goes together visually, before finding a spot for it on the shelf. This is where shopping your home is a good idea, perhaps that artifact from your last trip in the dining room goes really well with a piece you picked up at a thrift store, don’t hesitate to move things around. You’ll find something else for the dining room 🙂

When grouping things together, pay attention to scale. I typically like to group in threes and vary the heights, while keeping the weight (or width) of the objects similar.


Baskets are a stylists secret weapon – no matter the room or space. On bookshelves they’re a great way to corral things like blankets, books that don’t match the colour scheme but you like to have handy, magazine, etc.  All while keeping the space looking uniform, tidy and put together.

Do you have any go to tricks when it comes to styling bookshelves? I’d love to hear about it the comments below.

Photography: Jamie Anholt Interiors

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