The Art of Styling Bookshelves

Styling is not something I think about artfully or pre-plan to achieve some magically styled room. In fact, when I think about styling, I get kind of anxious, nervous, and feel completely inadequate. But in spite of that, I've learned a few things through the process of creating the shelves so often loved on Instagram.

My husband and I spent a weekend building the shelves from wall to wall, floor to ceiling, and I love them nearly as much as I love my children. No exaggeration. It was a true labor of love; built with the pleasure of loving books and enhancing a cozy den space in mind, and letting the true love of a literary lifestyle  transform it into the eye-catching book shelf that it is.

When it comes to styling or decorating of any sort, the less I think about it, the better. Arranging my books in a way that I can find them is what works best for me, and is a top priority. I attempted to organize them alphabetically once, but the aesthetic when I stepped back was appalling. I was so upset I immediately took it all down! Also, for you rainbow stack lovers, I just cannot (no offense). It's just too much for a room I want to feel cozy, not bold and orderly. Cozy is essentially my style, and I'm perfectly ok with that.

To give you a breakdown of how books are grouped together on my shelves, it's something like this:

  • favorite authors
  • beloved vintage books
  • gardening + outdoorsy books
  • children's books
  • memoirs + biographies
  • series
  • miscellaneous
  • my husband's books

Within these categories, I set up the books I love to see the most, putting them front and center, and then arrange the others around those. I rarely fill an entire shelf with just books. Though a few shelves are full, most other shelves are 1/2 - 3/4 full, with a photo or something else filling up the extra space. I like them set up primarily by size on the shelf, and have also got a few horizontal stacks mixed in to give some balance. We're definitely going for maximum visual appeal here, as this is a prominent display in our home. All of the knick knacks my husband and I have collectively gathered throughout our lives, from our travels, etc are mixed into the stacks, filling extra space and allowing us to display bits of our lives in the heart of our home. 

There are a few sets of bookends I absolutely love and specifically purchased, but I don't go out of my way to find things in stores. Clutter can happen quickly (so quickly!) that way. I often find myself rearranging things as books or trinkets are added or taken away, but it's not an all day affair, just a momentary pleasure, a quiet break in my day. The shelves are constantly evolving, and that's half the fun and the beauty of them. 

At the end of the day, you simply want to do what is pleasing to you, what makes you happiest. After putting these shelves in, I realized that this is a lifestyle choice, it's a lifestyle I love, and one that won't ever grow old, so I know I'll always be happy with it. Not only that, it's a great conversation piece, especially if you already love to talk about books! 

Do you have any helpful tips to style your shelves? Is there a certain organizational method you prefer?