When every decorating dollar counts, I like to encourage people to revitalize their rooms using pieces they already own.
Stylizing your bookcase can add instant panache to your decor. In just a couple of hours you can transform an eyesore bookcase to a bookcase worthy of being featured on the decorating website Houzze.
Bookcases are often used as a catch all--a kind of boneyard for anything that we can’t seem to find a place for. Tattered paperback books and photos framed in vintage oak and polished brass tend to go unnoticed for years. We focus more on furniture and paint colors, yet it is easy to become blind to the visual chaos in the bookcases.
Here’s how to begin stylizing your bookcase.
Start by removing everything from the bookcase. Don't expect to put everything back. I suggest having boxes handy for items that will go to other rooms or be donated to the Discovery Shop or Happy Dragon.
Go on a scavenger hunt through your house. Dig deep--you’ll probably find some fun pieces you have forgotten about. Consider pulling pieces from other rooms that may not be effective in that space.
A few accessory ideas might be, a ceramic vase (this will also be your "wow" piece), your favorite photos, a beautiful decorative plate on a stand, funky flea market finds, coffee table books, a beautiful embellished box. Don’t think ... just grab! Over thinking leads to frustration and frustration leads to creative paralysis. The goal here is allow yourself, (or force yourself) to experiment risk free.
Begin by placing your ‘wow’ piece at the top. By placing this anchor piece at the top, the focus will begin at the top shelf, allowing the eye to scan down slowly shelf by shelf.
If you are detail oriented person who likes order (left brain) go with a symmetrical configuration. If you are creative person and a risk taker, (right brain) go with an asymmetrical layout. This is only for the top shelf. The remaining shelves should be asymmetrical to avoid an overly contrived look. I personally like symmetry at the top because I feel it forces the wow piece to stand proud.
Take the the right brain vs. left brain dancer turning test.
For small items that you need to access on a regular basis, purchase an attractive basket. I prefer baskets over patterned containers because they are more neutral and won’t detract from your more interesting pieces.
Place groups of stacked books randomly. You can also intersperse groups of books upright in a tradional fashion. Limit books to about 25 percent 40 percent of the fill space. Books should be hard back, and stacked with the smallest on the top or end. If space allows, place an accessory on top of the books.
Each shelf should harmonize well with the other shelves. Our brains have been trained to recognize and admire pleasing composition so proportion is the art here. Think of one of the most beautiful cars ever designed and the Jaguar XK-E comes to mind. If you notice one shelf seems heavy or light, then try moving your pieces around until you can see an overall balance.
Accent Color Tip
Paint the back of your bookcases an accent color. If you don’t want to commit to a color, make a template and have a mat board professional cut at Los Gatos Framing. I have chosen a black mat board here for a more classic white on black theme. You can also change the color with the seasons. A deep red background using all white accessories and silver mercury glass would be stunning for the holidays!
- ‘Wow’ piece (for your anchor)
- Stacks of hardback books
- Live plant
- Favorite photos in updated frames
- Paperback books
- Fake plants (unless they look very real)
- Out of date frames
- Clear glass items
You'll find that when your home looks more organized and polished, not only is the clutter gone from your bookcases, it also can help de-clutter the mind.
Happy DIY decorating!