open bookshelves - design by IHOD

Styling The Open Bookshelves

August 12, 2020

How to style open bookshelves

I used to wait to get rooms situated until I was ready to make it exactly how I envisioned it. That would result in blank walls, and things in boxes for far too long. I’ve given up on waiting for perfect, and embraced the practice of making the most of what you have in the NOW. Before we start on some of the more time consuming projects in our home, we got to work on some of the instant gratification projects to help make us feel more settled. Styling some of the large open shelving units was one of them.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

How to style open bookshelves
How to style open bookshelves

We have FOUR large open shelving units in one area of the home, so some of them may be coming out, and we plan to paint + add door fronts to the above units in the future. In the meantime, we are going to enjoy as is! I wanted to work with what I already had from our old house, and add in a few vintage objects. It was a good challenge, and kept it low cost.

I was trying to think through my process for this, and translate it into concrete tips! I don’t have rules I go by, so consider these lose suggestions;) Everyone has different styles and tastes so work your own into these guidelines!

5 Quick Tips for Styling Open Bookshelves

1. Start with your largest areas first. – Once you figure out the larger areas (which tend to be where your eye gravitates to), it will be easier to make decisions on the smaller sections!

How to style open bookshelves

2. Consider how each shelf works with it’s diagonal neighbors. – I like to look at the surrounding shelves and see how each are working with each other. A good rule of thumb is to have the diagonal neighboring shelves compliment each other, or look similar in tones.

styling bookshelves - vintage books

3. Try alternating sets of twos and threes. – Multiple sets of twos could look a little stiff, so try changing it up between twos, threes, and even fours. It creates more visual balance!

how to style open bookshelves

4. Avoid too many small objects. – I ended up not using too many small ceramics or candles because that is where it can start to look cluttered. Simplicity in shapes makes it all work towards a peaceful outcome than a clashing one..

open bookshelves - design by IHOD

5. Style books both vertically and horizontally. – These books are a mix of vintage children’s stories, cookbooks, design books, and some I collected just for styling fun. I love how books seen are more likely used and read! You can change it up by stacking them vertically and alternating with horizontal stacks!

how to style bookshelves tutorial

I chose to mix up some antique finds with more modern vases, stuck with monochromatic tones in the book groupings, and tried not to use more than two metallic shades so there wasn’t too much going on. It came down to a lot of shifting and rearranging on each side until I got something I loved.

How to style open bookshelves
open bookshelves - design by IHOD

I am not sure what we will end up doing with the fireplace, but for now, a few vintage pieces will work! I really wanted to get up that picture of my grandparents. It’s a special one. Now to figure out where to put the TV….

Hope this was helpful. Please show me all of your styled shelves if you give some of these tips a try!​​​​​​​

Art: Framebridge (Grandparents photo), Antique Stores, Minted, IHOD Shop
Lanterns (similar) & Candlesticks: Target
Wooden Bowl: Hewitt Garden & Design Center
Vases: West Elm, Hewitt Garden & Design Center, Antique Stores, Target

Leave a Comment

  • It’s so perfect. You have such a great eye and I love that large photo picture.

  • the shelves look so great!

  • Thank you for breaking this down into simple steps. I can get easily overwhelmed when there’s a lot of space to fill and this so helpful. I love your styling and it feels so warm and cozy and inviting. Where do you purchase your frames? I’m specifically looking for frames for landscape
    canvas prints I’ve purchased and I love the wooden ones you have.

    • Hi Selina – I apologize I missed this! I love browsing Michaels, Target, and Antique stores for frames. Have even found a few gems at thrift stores!

  • Kathleen

    I feel like I recognize some Nancy Drew and some Hardy Boys on those shelves!! The yellow and blue! 🙂

  • I just stumbled into your site and have spent an hour here! Also, I’m from nashville 🙂

    I love the bookshelves, especially the corner piece. Did these come with your house or did you buy them somewhere?

  • Great tips! Quick question— where did you get that gorgeous corner bookshelf? Or, if you built it yourself, do you have a guide/blueprints available? Thank you!

Copyright © 2024 In Honor Of Design powered by chloĂ©digital