Styling a bookshelf is one of the most expensive and complicated undertakings of interior styling!
Even the pros look for alternative solutions to traditional bookshelf styling. This amazing wall of bookshelves was expertly styled without any books by Emily Henderson! She DIYed ombre jars to fill all the shelves. Such a great example of using crafty DIY skills.
We do almost all of our reading digitally now, meaning we don’t have stacks and stacks of books. And, without all the books, what’s the need for bookshelves anyway? A once functional storage piece, is now just an eyesore waiting to be filled up.
So, it probably comes as no surprise, my secret is to skip the bookshelves. We have very few bookshelves in our house and the ones we do have are mostly styled sans books.
Bookshelf as Side Table
This tetris bookshelf in our living room, once held all the kids books. We use different picture ledges for those now. I filled most of the open spaces with baskets and decorative vases. I did sneak in a few mommy books :) And, one of the baskets hides all my furniture store catalogs.
Bookshelf as Nightstand
The nightstand in our guest room is a short red glass front bookshelf. I love the look, but did not have nearly enough books to fill it up. Instead I added a few books and magazines that guests might enjoy during their stay. A Tiffany box and a cool wooden bowl fill up the rest of the shelf space.
Mostly Shelf-Less Built-Ins
The built-ins in our living room are open with only one shelf above. I thought for a hot minute we should put more shelves on the left side, then I realized I would have nothing to put on them. I filled the tall space with some of my favorite decorative vases. The shelves above are styled with a mix of objects, vases, and candle holders.
Open Craft Room Shelves
In my studio, the open shelves hold a mix of books, craft supplies, and decor. I love how varied it is. I played around with the arrangement until I found an eye-pleasing style (more on that here). I stacked a few favorite decorating books and put a jar of craft paint on top. My favorite sewing and print-making books are horizontal against the wall to the left. For less attractive books, I put them backwards in decorative magazine holders, so only the whites of the pages shows through.
More Bookshelf Styling Resources
Lame, right? I teased you with the promise of a secret tip for styling bookshelves, then told you to just skip the bookshelves altogether, or at least the book part of it.
But, fear not, if you are plagued by bookshelves in need of some major styling, here are some other great resources:
- Love these stunning well-styled and colorful shelves
- The bookshelf in this kids room is pure eye candy and inspiration
- A few good and simple classic bookcase styling tricks
- For the purist, whom believes bookshelves are meant for books
- The original article is gone, but this step by step bookshelf styling picture is still helpful
Also, if you find yourself in need of pretty books to fill up your shelves, I love these ideas for making over less attractive books and paperbacks:
- Paper-wrapped Hardcover Books
- Fabric-covered Hardcover Books with Mod Podge
- More Fabric-covered Hardcover Books with spray adhesive
- Paper-wrapped Paperback Books
Get a Free Copy of my book "Free Decorating"
"This book is so inspiring, I'm a self confessed "decor" addict, I buy anything I think "may" work only to take it home and be disappointed. After reading this book I can't wait to shop my own home and make more meaningful purchases." - Cori I.