How to Accessorize Your Bookcase & Shelves

How to Accessorize Your Bookcase & Shelves

Whenever we go into a client’s home to help them rework their furniture and accessories, we find that client’s struggle the most with organizing their bookcases and open shelving. Open shelves can be convenient to access and they are a great way to display your treasures, but if you aren’t careful they can end up being a cluttered eye-sore! We have put together some tips in getting your shelves ship-shape!


Negative Space

You hear it so often, “less is more” and this definitely applies when you are accessorizing your shelves. Most people don’t realize it, but having some negative space allows your eyes to focus on the key pieces you are displaying and gives a cleaner look. People like things organized and balanced, so group items towards the center to create a central focus.


When organizing a bookcase we like to display hardcover books as they are structured and have a cleaner look. We remove the covers and group like colours and sizes together. Have the largest books in the center and get smaller as you move out. This creates a visually satisfying look and will come off as organized even if there is a large quantity of books. Sometimes a bookcase completely full of books can be a bit overwhelming. A way around this, is to switch up the way you are displaying the books. Try having a couple rows of the vertically stacked books and then switching things up on a few shelves by stacking them horizontal or adding art and other accessories to break up the books.


I’d argue that the most important thing when it comes to accessorizing shelves is layering. Adding different depths and heights to the items you put on your shelves will add interest. Don’t be afraid to introduce pieces of art to break up the space and add items in front to give it that extra dimension.




Balance is important when accessorizing your shelves. If your shelves aren’t balanced you will always be looking at it thinking something is off. Balancing your shelves can be tricky, so you might have to play around with things for a bit until things seem right. For beginners, an easy way to balance your shelves to use like items on each side but switching up the orientation. You can also repeat the layout on each side if you want a more consistent look.



Using Glassware

We are seeing a lot of open shelving in kitchens and bars. When you are accessorizing these spaces you should use items that make sense for the space. Using your glassware and bar utensils make it easy to grab when you have guests over, as well as looks great when displayed. Group like things together and switch up the heights of your glasses to add interest. Add in a couple solid objects or items with colour to ground the look and you are good to go!



Photo Credits:

Shellard Photography

McKinley Masters

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