Bookcase Tips: How to Organize & Decorate Bookshelves

Bookcases are a fantastic choice for many spaces because not only do they serve as a great design element, but they are also extremely functional. Besides the obvious, bookcases can store DVDs, music, photographs, memorabilia, decorative items, files, and more. You can even add doors to some bookcases (like most of the affordable bookcases available from IKEA) to keep some of your stored items hidden. Bookcases don’t have to be reserved for just living rooms or home offices, either ─ they can be a great addition for a kid’s or teen’s room, a bedroom, a kitchen, a bonus room, or even a hallway (given that it is wide enough to accomodate it, of course).

A dilemma that many run into when choosing to decorate with bookcases is exactly how to organize them, because not all of us have enough books to fill an entire piece of furniture. Often there is “dead space” that needs to be filled. I’m going to give you some tips on how to decorate bookcases so that they are visually pleasing and functional!

1) Don’t go overboard on accessorizing! Some people tend to stick every single knick-knack, accessory, and framed photo they own on a bookcase. This makes it look way too cluttered and the eye has no idea where to look. Instead, choose some of your favorite items that compliment each other well (colors, shapes) and space them so that they each stand out. It is much more likely that these items will be appreciated if they aren’t shoved together and dwarfed by all the other stuff surrounding them.

This is an especially important tip if you are staging a home for sale. In that case, thin the bookcase out even more than you would if you were living there, including removing personal photographs. Buyers need to see as much visual openness as possible so the room feels larger. Here is an example of a bookcase we thinned out for a home that was going on the market:

The detail in this beautiful bookcase is now more noticable to buyers.

2)  Use pretty boxes and baskets for storage. To hide items or paperwork you don’t necessarily want to be seen, store them in boxes, baskets or crates that fit nicely onto one or more of the shelves (most bookcases have adjustable shelves if need be). There are a wide range of choices to fill this need, including boxes specifically made for files that come in solid colors or beautiful patterns. For magazines, you can find adorable magazine holders that do the job perfectly.

3) For small stacks of books, stack horizontally and vertically. Use a horizontal stack of books as a bookend to a vertical grouping and place an accessory on top of the horizontal group. Vary this technique throughout the shelves by arranging them in opposite ways.

4) If you have several smaller pieces of a like-minded object (for example: a collection of fish accessories), group them together on one shelf. A collection of small objects has more visual interest than if you were to space them all out on separate shelves. Remember, there’s power in numbers!

5) Don’t forget the top of the bookcases! If there is no special molding at the top of the bookshelf and a fair amount of space between the top of the piece and the ceiling, take advantage of this great spot for larger accessories. You can even showcase pieces of art there by leaning them against the wall. This will draw the eye upwards, which is wonderful if you have high ceilings.

I hope you find these tips helpful when decorating and organizing your a bookcase. They can be a lot of fun to decorate and a great addition to practically any room in your house. Good luck!

Warm regards,

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