9 Stylish Ways To Organize Your Bookshelf

Floating Shelves

When decorating your home, one of the most functional pieces of furniture you can add to a room is a book shelf… or multiple book shelves. The problem with book shelves, is that they are overlooked as a decorative element in the room and become a collection point for all books, magazines and files. The result is clutter and an unslightly mess of color and objects. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, book shelves that are properly decorated and organized can add interest and design to a room… and still be functional.

Here are some step by step guidelines you can use to decorate and organize your book shelves so that they become a decorated focus in the room, instead of clutter. In fact, I bet you have at least one set of cluttered book shelves right now that need some attention. Print out this article and turn your book shelves into a work of art.

1. Empty off all the shelves. Yep. This is going to be a chore, but in order for you to be successful in getting your book shelves to a professional decorated status you need to start with a clean slate. And besides… I bet your shelves need a good dusting anyway.

2. As you are emptying your shelves be honest with yourself. What do you really need to keep? Can you make a donation or yard sale box of books that you will truly never look at again?

3. Organize your books into several stacks. Sort by size.

4. Start with the bottom most shelf. The largest and heaviest items should go here. Do you have some large heavy books? Or a collection of large books? Or you could slide some really nice woven baskets onto the bottom shelf and have them hold your paperback stash. The point here is that the bottom shelf should have the weight.. both the visual weight and the actual weight. The items you place on this shelf don’t necessarily have to be books. Maybe a large vase or urn… or a large globe.

5. Now look at the top shelf. Run all of your smaller sized books side by side across the top shelf. If you have multiple book cases side by side, run these books across all of them. The books should be all the same height if you can. And idealy they should run the complete width of the shelf. This will give a visual frame to the book shelf.

6. Now look at the remaining shelves. Select at least one or two shelves in each book case to leave blank of books. Yep. Don’t put books on these shelves. Instead you’re going to place some items that your truly enjoy. Framed picture of the family… a statuette… model car or ship… small plant… small lamp… you know what you like. Take a moment and shop around your house for some items that will work on these shelves. Place two items on each shelf. One on each side. The items that are a set on each shelf should be about the same size and visual weight.


7. For displays that consist of at least 3 book cases side by side, choose one or two shelves that will hold one large object each. Fill a shelf with a large ivy like plant… or a decorative dish.

Designer Tip: Lower or remove the top shelf on each book case and hang a framed print on the back of the book case… to fill in the back wall of the top shelves. Then place one or two small decorative objects on each shelf. Or remove one middle shelf (this is more ideal for narrow book cases) and display a tall object… like a vase… flower arrangement… scultpure.

8. For all loose items… photographs, papers, files, etc… put these items in some nice decorative containers. There are all kinds of magazine holders, boxes, baskets and file boxes that can be used to hold these loose items.

9. Now, it’s time to place the rest of your books and items on your shelves. You can organize these shelves in several different ways:

  • Stack books on top of each other… then on each side, line books up side by side to fill the shelf.
  • Line books up side by side on only have the shelf and place a decorative object to fill the remaining space.
  • Line books up side by side that fill the shelf up and have some really nice looking bookends on each side of the books.
  • Stack some books and place a small picture frame or statuette on top of them
  • Display three stacks of books side by side.
  • Be sure to use a different book arrangement on each shelf for variety.
  • It’s OK if you don’t have a lot of books. Simply display a couple items on each shelf and leave the open space.

10. Don’t forget the top of the shelf. You have the shelves filled and organized… but one of the most neglected area of a book shelf is the very top of it. Don’t leave it bare. Place a silk plant and foliage arrangement in the top center. Find a set of really nice small lamps you love to place on either side of the arrangement. Placing lamps on the top of a book shelf is a perfect way to add some mood lighting to the room. And they look great!

You are going to be amazed at how great your room looks once you’ve made these simple changes to your book shelf. They’re going to look like you hired a decorator to come in and arrange your shelves. Gone are the cluttered, unslightly book shelves… now you have neat, organized book shelves that display your personality.

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