How To Style A Bookcase

If you've ever gone to a posh cafe, you probably witnessed how elegant a properly styled bookcase can be. Bookcases aren't just for books. They're great for adding ambiance to a room, displaying knickknacks, and just adding the chic storage that people enjoy. If you've ever wanted to get that same "cafe vibe" from a bookcase, you probably wish you knew how to style it. 

Your bookcase should only be styled after you've decluttered. Styling a bookcase calls for careful planning and involves a certain level of procedure. Styling a bookcase requires the following:

  • Choosing the right accessories
  • Choosing chic storage
  • Arranging storage and accessories correctly

A bookcase that's properly styled can easily become your room's focal point. When you want to make your room pop, start reading our handy guide on the topic. We have the information you need, so keep reading.

close up of wooden rack with books in living room, How to style a bookcase

How To Style A Bookcase

Choose The Right Accessories

Bookcases are not just for books. While they usually hold books, they also are meant to hold accessories and other items. Let's take a look at how to make the right calls.

Can You Put A TV On A Bookshelf?

In some cases, yes, but it doesn't usually work. Most televisions are too large to fit on a bookshelf. Sometimes, even putting them on the top of the bookshelf is risky, if not downright unfeasible. Since TVs can topple on a bookshelf pretty easily, it's best to skip this unless you have a way to both fit the TV in and secure it in place. 

What Kind Of Accessories Work Well On A Bookshelf?

While there are some limits as to what you put on a bookshelf, there are several easy-to-use accessories that always look good on a bookshelf. To make things easier, we'll look at each one below.


Statues, sculptures, and other tangible bits of three-dimensional art are excellent choices. We suggest getting several sculptures for each bookshelf. They can be used to top small piles of books in an artistic way, add a little flair to an end, or even decorate the top of your bookshelf. 

Click here to get this scultpure on Amazon.


White bookshelf with plants and folders over white wall, empty space

Whether they're real or fake, plant life offers a special twist to any home. It gives you a fresher look and can even help lift your spirits just by being there. One wouldn't be wrong to say that plant life is a new trend among home designers. To get the best look possible, make sure to invest in a stylish planter for displaying purposes. 

Click here to get two chic planters on Amazon.


Obviously, having a good pair of bookends makes sense if you store books on your bookshelf. Bookends aren't just the large, chunky pieces of metal they once were, either. They are now made into beautiful sculptures that can add a special splash of color to any bookcase style. We suggest going with bold, statement-making bookends for your setup.

Accent Vases

Vases look amazing on a bookshelf and can double up as a luxurious storage device. However, most people who add them to a bookcase layout tend to use them as a focal point. A stylish farmhouse vase is a wonderful choice here, as are striking burgundy vases. To make them pop even more, add beads or flowers to your vase.

Click here to see this farmhouse vase on Amazon.

Choose Chic Storage

Stylish living room with pine wood floor and kitchen area behind white bookcase

Part of styling your bookcase correctly is knowing that adding the right storage tools can help. The right storage can make it easy to display both books and other items beautifully. At times, it can even help distinguish between clutter and a collection. There are several ways to make your bookshelf "pop" using storage. These include:

  • Hiding cluttery items, like paper, in a large, opaque fabric cube with a lid.
  • Placing round sculptures in an eye-catching bowl for display.
  • Using a tray to help arrange a collection in a stylish manner.
  • Getting an ornate trinket box for storing trinkets. 

Click here to get a fabric cube on Amazon.

Arrange Your Gear Correctly

Now that you've got books, accessories, accents, and more, it's time to arrange stuff. This is the fun part of your styling session. If you want to experiment, by all means, do. The question, of course, is how to get the most out of your arrangements.

How Do You Make Your Arrangements Look Less Cluttery?

Remember when you had to clean out your bookshelf and put some books in storage? The number one lesson to learn from that is that space is your friend. There are several ways to make this work for you:

  • Use certain shelves as corner-to-corner book storage, but keep other sections of your bookcase clear of any items.
  • Allow for space on every bookshelf in your bookcase. 
  • Use fabric cubes as space dividers that serve double-duty as storage. 
  • Whenever possible, display any collections in proper cases. 
  • Stick to larger accessories and pieces of art. (A single large item will add a lot of impact without risking the chance of appearing cluttery.)
  • If you have a stack of books on your shelf, add a small statue or decorative item on top for a stylish flourish.

How Should You Arrange Your Collections?

Collections are pretty difficult to work with at times, especially if the items in question are small. However, there are still ways to make it work. One of the best tricks you can use is to arrange items in odd numbers. Singles, trios, and even groups of five that are closely arranged together are easier on the eyes. It also adds an organic look, too. 

How Do You Make Your Bookcase Look Less Cluttered?

New Year decorated room with Christmas decoration

Before you can do any type of accessorizing or sprucing, you're going to have to declutter your bookcase. The question, of course, is figuring out how to make your bookcase look less cluttered. There are several ways to do this.

Should You Get Rid Of Some Books?

While it's possible to work with several shelves that are jam-packed with books, the truth is that you should try to free up at least one shelf or half of two shelves per bookcase. There are plenty of ways to do this. This includes donating books you no longer read, putting some books in storage, or getting a second shelf. 

Should Books Be Stored Flat Or Upright?

This all depends on how many books you have on your shelf. If you only have a couple, store them flat with the spines visible to the viewer. If you have a bunch, then it makes sense to store them upright using bookends or doing an end-to-end book storage arrangement. Either way, it's up to you to decide.

Click here to get these bookends on Amazon.

Should You Organize Your Books By Color?

Colorful book shelves packed with books

Though you never need to do so, arranging books by color is a wonderful idea. By grouping together books by the colors of their spines, you get a visually striking look that also looks clean. This is why major stores and cafes often arrange items by color. It looks amazing! Of course, there is an issue here.

While it may look good, it can also make it difficult to find books you really enjoy quickly. If you want to display books from shelf-to-shelf and have to keep a bunch in easy access, it might make more sense to arrange them alphabetically. Arranging books alphabetically gives you a reliable way to find that favorite book in a pinch. Even so, it's your call. 

Styling Your Bookcase: Tips And Tricks

White interior with modern furniture

Now that you have a good idea of what styling a bookcase can involve, it's important to make sure that you get those final finishing touches right. These quick tips below can help you get the best look possible, or just make your styling a little easier:

  • Check online bookshelf styling ideas to help you figure out how you want to style it. A little inspiration never hurts.
  • Add metallic or stone accents to help bring out the look of the books you own. 
  • Start your styling session by focusing on larger items first. This makes introducing smaller accent objects easier.
  • When working on your styling, step back, and figure out how it looks from afar. 

In Closing

close up of wooden rack with books in living room, How to style a bookcase

The biggest trend among chic cafes and stores is styling bookcases in a way that makes them useful and gorgeous. So, why not do it at your own home, too? Though it can be intimidating to style your own shelves, the truth is that it's a pretty doable procedure. As long as you take time to choose the right accessories, plan things out, and declutter your shelving, you should be good to go. 

As one of the most enjoyable parts of interior design, it's important to make sure you enjoy the decorating time you have. After all, it's a way to turn your bookcase into a reflection of yourself!

But before you go, be sure to check out some of our other posts here on

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