Cracking The Bookshelf Styling Code


One of the biggest challenges that my clients come across is figuring out how to style their bookshelves, whether it be built-in's, bookcases, display cabinets or even open kitchen shelves.


I am all about telling your story in your home and your shelves are the greatest place to start. I often get hired just to come in and restyle bookshelves and tablescapes using the items that my clients already have in their home. I really get to know them from these styling projects. What we display on our bookshelves tell people, what we love, who we love, where we've been, what we like to collect and what we like to read! Yup, you can communicate ALL that just by curating your bookshelves.

So, what should you put in them? Books, duh. No, but really, you need books. My clients either have waaaaaay too many books or not enough. When I'm putting finishing touches on a home project and there aren't enough books, I will shop my favorite haunts and purchase them used.

  • My favorite places to shop for used books are: library book sales, estate sales and thrift stores. I recently purchased a grouping of vintage children's books from One Kings Lane in the the accent color that I was using in the space I was redesigning. Feast your eyes on these cuties...


  • I like to remove the dust jackets on hardcover books, I just love the look of the hardcover books and the embossed lettering.

  • I do pay attention to the title of the books that I bring in. I love to find books with around the theme of "home" or "gathering". If I were doing a coastal inspired home, I would search for books around that theme.

  • Organize them by size and color, they will look more curated and purposeful.


My process for styling shelves begins with the books. I will typically place the books in the bookshelves by first starting in the upper left hand corner and work my way down to the bottom right hand side. Then, I begin filling in with my clients collectibles like these ceramics. I always display smaller items in clusters for a bigger visual impact.


Other items that you can display on bookshelves are:

  • Family photos

  • Children’s art

  • Wood or woven objects – especially if you have white bookcases.

  • Souvenirs from vacations - items that connect your to that place and time.

  • Art and artifacts.

  • Collections

If you need more help, I'm just a click away. I can come in and work on the finishing touches in your home or we can hop on a call or video conference if you live out of the San Diego footprint.


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