Easy Tips for Styling a Bookcase

Today, we’re sharing easy tips for styling a bookcase as part of the Lifestyle of  Love Blog Hop. A special thank you and shout out to my sweet friend, Cindy of County Road 407 for putting this hop together.

If you’re coming over from Michelle’s blog at The Painte Hinge, welcome, we’re excited to have you. I love her farmhouse style so much!

In case you missed the last installment of this series, we shared our favorite ways to decorate with farmhouse crocks here.

When it comes to styling bookcase or hutch shelves, my Mom is a total rock star.  In fact, this is one of my favorite pictures of her from a few years ago.  She was so “in the zone” at the time I took this picture, she never heard the click of the camera.

Over the years, I’ve learned about styling shelves from her because it’s such a frequent request of the homeowners we get to work with.

Easy Tips for Styling a Bookcase Inspiration

Since we’ve had the pleasure of staying a home more these past few months, I’ve really been thinking through every single space.  I’ve literally been standing in each room and quietly pondering, “What part of the space is working well and what part I can tweak to make it even better?”

There are times I feel like I want to start over completely.  And other times, I feel like we’re SO close we just need one or two more things in order to bring it all together.

We’ve been using the living room as a quiet room a lot more lately.  My Dad was super sweet to build these bookcases for me.

They’re almost 9 feet tall and I love them so much.

The bookcases take up a good portion of the only wall in the living room and for that reason alone, they’re basically a feature.  I’ve pretty much kept them styled the same way for the past few years.

But lately, I’ve really been into a tone-on-tone more subdued vibe. So, I decided to change the bookcases up a bit.

No playing, I used to be intimidated by big projects like these. Until I realized, there were a few easy tips for styling a bookcase we use over and over again.

Here’s a look at our favorite easy tips for styling a bookcase… 

Keep a Consistent Color Palette

Chose a consistent color palette and stick with it – even if that color palette is rainbow!

We knew from the beginning we wanted to mix pieces of ironstone with lots of books for a subtle look. Knowing that in advance, helped us to stay focused as we were collecting items and styling the bookcase.

It’s definitely easy to get off track if you don’t know what specific colors or style you’re trying to create in advance because there are so many fabulous pieces to try.

Collect What You Love

If possible, start collecting items BEFORE you plan to style your bookcase.  Unless you buy an entire collection at an estate sale or antique mall, it takes a long time to find great pieces. Especially, if you have large bookcases and need a lot of items.

It’s worth the wait though.

Collecting what you love ensures you’ll have multiple items to choose from once you’re ready to get styling.

If you plan to use the pieces you already have on hand, consider bringing all of them together in one place.  That way you’ll be able to see what you have instead of going from room to room hunting things to make work.

Style the Middle Shelf (or the shelf at eye level) FIRST

It probably seems like you should start styling the top shelf first and then work your way down to the bottom shelf.

But if you style the shelf at eye level from the start, it will help to set the tone for the entire bookcase. Especially, since it’s the shelf you’re most likely to notice as soon as walk into the room.

Vary the Height of Objects on Each Shelf

As you’re putting these easy tips for styling a bookcase together, keep in mind you’ll need large a variety of pieces so you can vary the height of objects on each shelf.

Placing taller items next to shorter ones, is a simple way to fill up blank space.

Embrace Texture

Whether you collect old books or patinaed planters embracing texture keeps thing interesting.  This includes everything from warm woods, to cool concrete pieces, to nubby burlap covered books.

If most of the pieces you have are new, think about using dark wax and other painting techniques to help give you an aged look without have to wait years to get it.

In fact, you can find out how to easily paint and age a silver serving tray here.

Add Greenery

Adding greenery can help breathe life into shelves and offer a simple pop of color too.

That said, I’ve also seen plenty of tone-on-tone ironstone or book laden bookcases that don’t have a stitch of greenery on them and they’re totally fabulous.

Don’t be afraid to play around with multiple pieces until you get a look you love!

I hope these tips for easy tips for styling a bookcase have helped.  Let us know if you have any fun tips or tricks we should try!

Lifestyle of Vintage and Farmhouse Love Blog Hop

Next, stop by my friend Lind’a blog, Itsy Bits and Pieces for a fabulous farmhouse vignette with books.

And be sure to check out how the rest of these fabulous ladies decorate with books too. I always learn so much from them….

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Many blessings,


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  1. Your bookshelves look fabulous, CoCo! Your tips are so good and spot-on for decorating a bookshelf stylishly. I really like how you covered the books with brown paper to make them go with your color palette. Adding greenery is also a great tip. The pop of color with the whites and browns looks so good. I so much enjoyed your post and your beautiful pictures.

    1. I really appreciate that Paula, thank you so much! I’ve been on the lookout for neutral books that have a vintage feel but they’re hard to find sometimes. Thankfully, the kraft paper helps with decorating in the meantime 🙂 Sending you lots of hugs for a happy and healthy Mother’s Day weekend. Sherman and the rest of your family are lucky to have you.

  2. You and your mom are so talented. So special that you get to deocate together. I love that Ashlyn has a love of decor. Hopefully, we can continue our love of home like you and your mom. Your Dad is a rockstar. Those bookcases that he built are amazing. Your styling of them is just perfectly vintage!

    1. I really appreciate it, Christy, thank you! It’s so much fun to be able to work with my parents on all different kinds of projects and I know Ashlyn probably feels the same way too. We’ve made memories together that I will always treasure. Hope your Mother’s Day weekend is filled with love and laughter. Hugs, CoCo

  3. What fantastic tips! I plan on incorporating them into a summer-themed bookcase. Your dad is so talented. Your bookshelves are gorgeous!

    1. Thank you so much, Laura! I have several pieces from my Dad that I treasure. He’s so sweet to give us his best talents and gifts. Hope your Mother’s Day weekend is peace filled and relaxing. Hugs, CoCo

  4. I love your bookcase. Your dad did a great job and I love the whites and off whites that you used to fill it. Covering the book jackets is a great ideas to make all the books match. You have gorgeous tureens in your collection. That dog planter it just too cute.

    1. Such sweet and kind words, Katie, thank you! I giggle every time I look at the bookcases because I asked my Dad to build them 7 feet tall and they’re almost 9 feet tall. I was shocked when he delivered them but he just said, “Well, I thought these would look at lot better” ha ha. He’s helped with several projects now and we totally just let him go and do whatever he wants 🙂 Hugs for a blessed weekend, CoCo

  5. You (and your mom) are so wonderful at styling bookcases! These are beautiful! So many great hints!
    I’ve always loved styling shelves…playtime! Hope you have a lovely Saturday, CoCo!

    1. Thank you, Linda! I’m thankful she likes to do this too. We always have a great time together. I just got off the phone with her and she asked me to come to her house 15 minutes early to talk about a few paint-related things in her bedroom and it reminded me of all the times you and your daughter have shared ideas and traded furniture pieces too 🙂 We’re so lucky to have you guys! Blessings on your Mother’s Day, CoCo

  6. Your bookshelves are just gorgeous, CoCo! How lucky you are to have such a sweet and talented Dad! And how fun to be able to get to decorate with your Mom! As for how you decorated your shelves? Oh my goodness! Perfection for me since I’m a huge fan of neutrals! I also love the pop of green and all of your beautiful ironstone! My home office bookcase needs an update! Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. You’re so sweet, Christine, thank you! It really is a huge blessing to be able to work alongside my parents on so many different projects. They think some of my ideas are kind of wild at times but they’re always willing to hear me out 🙂 I can’t wait to see how your home office bookcase comes together. If it’s anything like your new coffee station I know it’s going to be amazing! Hugs, CoCo

  7. Holy smokes CoCo! I love the new fresh look. When you said you were changing up the old one, I was like – how can she top that?! Well you certainly did! I seriously love this. The tutorial was fantastic. I’ve never thought to do the middle shelf first. Maybe that’s why I think I suck at shelves? Who knows. Anyway, I loved this and the photo of your mom in the zone. So cute. Thank you for joining in. Pinned!

    1. Ok, just for the record Cindy it is IMPOSSIBLE for you to suck at anything because you are much too talented! You display things in ways that inspire me all the time and it’s one of my favorite things about you. Shelves can definitely be kind of tricky but I just keep moving things until I find something I love. Thank you for getting us all together! It’s always fun to see what everyone has to share. Hugs, CoCo

  8. Coco, your bookcase looks lovely. I adore your accessories. I love your style. you are such a lovely lady with compassion. Thank you for sharing at Love Your Creativity. I am featuring your French Country Headboard today. I couldn’t find a place to comment on that post. Thank you for your heartfelt comments. Happy Sunday.

  9. I love your gorgeous bookcase Coco! Your great tips make the challenge of decorating a bookcase so much easier! Especially the tip about collecting what you love – I have a thing for soup server bowls too! So happy to be part of this super-fun hop with you! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Michelle! I’m always able to find special spots for the things I love – it’s when I decide to get “trendy” I find my closets filling up with things that were a one or two-time use 🙂 I love all your collections. You have such a pretty farmhouse style I adore and I’m thankful to be inspired by you! Sending you hugs for a happy week, CoCo

  10. Rachel Harper says:

    Great useful tips. Thanks for sharing with us at Charming Homes & Gardens Link Party!

    1. Thanks so much for hosting, Rachel! You guys are always so much fun. Hope your week is fantastic, CoCo

  11. These are great tips. I struggle with styling bookcases. I’ve featured this today at the TFT link party!

    1. Oh my gosh, Pam, thank you, that’s so exciting! Hope you’ve found these tips helpful! Hugs and thank yous, CoCo

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