How To Decorate The Top Of A Bookcase

Bookcases aren't just a place to store books and knickknacks. They are one of the best places you can use to add a splash of color to your room. In many cases, the top of a bookcase can act as a perfect place for a room's top accessory or focal point. It's good room real estate! A lot of internet research was done to find out the best ways to decorate a bookcase's top. Do you want to find out what your options are?

There are so many ways to decorate the top of a bookcase. The most popular methods include:

  • Adding Lighting
  • Having Statement Art
  • Show Off A Collection
  • Hanging Art Above The Bookcase
  • Adding Floral Accents
  • Books On Books

Understanding how to accessorize the top of a bookshelf is a must, especially if you're the type of person to spend a lot of time in your reading nook. 

Contemporary open aired living room with a dark sofa, ratan chairs, brown carpet, dark coffee table and a bookshelf on the background, How To Decorate The Top Of A Bookcase

Decorating The Top Of A Bookcase: The Quick Look

The top of a bookcase offers endless options in terms of decorations, and that's no joke. We're going to take a look at each of the most popular options and discuss the perks and pitfalls. 

Adding Lighting

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The easiest way to brighten up a room is to add more lighting. When you add lighting to a bookcase, you get the perk of having lighting that is perched high up in a room. Moreover, adding lighting accents can help improve your room's ambiance and increase your visibility. While any lighting can be good, it's best to choose a small lighting accent that isn't a standard lamp.

Think mood lighting! Though we used a light-up cactus as an example in our picture, you can use anything. Even a fairy light jar can work. 

Click here to get fairy lights from Amazon.

Having Statement Art

A gorgeous small apartment with wooden flooring, white colored bookshelf and a small table with a book on top

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Statement art takes a lot of forms and is a regular sight among the tops of bookshelves as well as the top of shelves. It can be photographs, a statue, or even something along the lines of a painting propped up in a nice frame. Statement art is a great way to add a personal touch to your home and give it "flavor."

Click here to get a Michaelangelo statue from Amazon.

Show Off A Collection

If you are like many people out there, the chances are that you have a small collection of items that you enjoy looking at. Whether it's Funko Pop vinyl figurines, cool crystals, or even glass figurines doesn't matter. What does matter here is that they can be a beautiful collection to display at the top of a bookcase in your home.

With many collections, such as crystals, you may need to display them with something that can hold them and give them the display they need---such as a tray or a special box. This is particularly true if the objects in question are rather small. A nice case is an investment worth making if you want to make sure they're shown off in the best way possible. 

Click here to get a crystal shelf from Amazon.

Hanging Art Above The Bookcase

A burgundy colored accent wall, white walls on the background and a white colored bookshelf with indoor plants on top

Sometimes, you don't want to actually put stuff on the top of a bookcase. It can look cluttered, especially in smaller rooms. A better option you can explore is the use of the ceiling and walls above your bookcase. This makes things easier to clean and also happens to open up your room in a way that having knickknacks displayed won't. This also can go hand-in-hand with other decoration methods.

Adding Floral Accents

Scandinavian themed reading area with wooden flooring, minimalist designed bookshelf and a green chair

Did you know that studies showed that being near plant life is linked to lower stress levels and better mental health? It's true, and that might be why people are snapping up flowers in planters and vases for bookshelves. This trend is pervasive throughout the world, and it's easy to see why. It's refreshing! 

Keeping plants alive can be a hassle, but there are ways around it. To make sure that you don't have to deal with light or watering issues, it's totally cool to get faux silk flowers. However, no one will judge if you want to cultivate your green thumb, either. 

Click here to get a faux planter set from Amazon.

Books On Books 

Dark contemporary living room with a white paneled bookshelf and dark wooden ceiling

While there are plenty of ways to bring in art and kitch, not all of them are going to be suitable for decor. Sometimes, the best way to show off your bookshelf (and maximize book space) is to deck it out with more books. If you're a bibliophile, this is a quick and easy way to get the aesthetic you enjoy while also displaying a nice collection. 

The key to making this work well is to choose a book that's meant to be displayed elegantly. Coffee table books are ideal for this, as are art books. Both options tend to offer a nice, intellectual twist to bookshelf top decor. Fancy!

Click here to get an art book from Amazon.

Add A Diffuser

Aroma sticks and an indoor plant inside a table

As people become more aware of the benefits of aromatherapy, people are starting to add diffusers as a part of functional decoration. If you choose to get a diffuser, it's best to avoid the ones that "mist" essential oils. While they may look and smell great, the truth is that they can pose a mildew risk for books.

However, you don't have to write diffusers off altogether. A better option would be a reed diffuser. It's classy, looks great, and smells even better than it looks.

Click here to get a reed diffuser from Amazon.

Decorating The Top Of A Bookcase: A Deeper Look Into Decor

While it's great to know the basics of decorating options, it's even better to know how to apply each type of decor. These questions below are the most commonly-asked ones.

How Do You Display Knickknacks Without It Looking Cluttered?

This is a difficult question to ask, but it usually comes down to how you choose to display them. If you want to display them well, then you need to follow some guidelines:

  • Only pick a handful of knickknacks to display, and make sure that they aren't overwhelming. 
  • Don't put other items that don't belong on the top of your bookshelf near the knickknacks. 
  • Color-coordinating, design coordination, or coordinating the materials of your knickknacks makes it look intentional and clean.
  • If you cannot determine whether the items you want to display are junk or actually meant to be displayed, remove them.
  • Consider using a decorative tray to help make it clear it's a display.

Do Real Plants Get Dusty?

One of the biggest drawbacks of having a silk plant in your home is the risk of getting dust all over them. Soaking silk flowers in a light 50/50 vinegar-water mix will clean them and brighten them. What many people don't realize, though, is that real plants can attract dust just as much as a set of fakes can. Real plants just need to be wiped down and watered, though. 

It's important to keep your plants clean regardless of whether they're real or fake. Fake plants will look dull without cleaning and may even stain as a result of long-term neglect. Real plants can become more prone to disease if they aren't kept clean. It's a lot like people in that respect.

How Do You Stabilize A Bookcase?

A wobbly bookcase can wreck your room, but thankfully, it's easy to fix. Here's how:

  1. Start by lowering your bookcase to the floor, and emptying it.
  2. Drill a hole in each of the bookcase's legs.
  3. Get adjustable feet for your bookshelf and tap them in using a hammer.
  4. Adjust the feet until your bookcase no longer wobbles.
  5. After fixing your bookcase and testing it out, put the books back on the shelving. 


The top of your bookshelf isn't just another space in your room. It's a completely blank canvas that's waiting to be adorned with gorgeous decorations. There is an infinite number of ways to make the most of your bookcase's top, and the only thing that's limiting you is your own imagination. 

Do you want to give a statement light like a neon sign a try? How about adding that neat collection of antique clocks you have? Or, maybe you just want a floral arrangement instead. Whatever you choose, it's important to remember the number one rule of interior design: have fun with it!

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