What does it take to style bookshelves? It pretty much comes down to the arrangement of two things:
Books + Decor
What goes wrong in a lot of cases is how those two things are mixed together (or aren’t mixed together). Yes, your books and decor should mingle on your shelves.
But if you only know two ways to stack books, upright or in a pile, your decorative options are limited.
For good-looking shelves, you need more ways to stack books PLUS how to mix in decor.
In my class, Shelve It: How to Style Bookshelves, one of the lessons is all about stacking books… in 14 different ways. So, you already know two of them, upright and in a pile, but there are 12 more ways.
This section of the class is really popular. And the homework – playing with books to try out all the different stacks – is a decorating nerd’s idea of a perfect Saturday morning.
These stacking ideas are really changing the way my students look at their bookshelves (and their books).
Your books are styling tools.
Whether you organize them functionally or aesthetically (which I also cover in the class), there is no excuse for boring bookshelves.
Books can be organized and look pretty too.
Unless your books are in and out like they are at the city library, you don’t need to keep them all upright. Every once and a while it isn’t that inconvenient to pull a book out from under other books or decor.
These stacking ideas are so popular, because they are so simple. It’s an easy tweak you can make to instantly transform a section of your shelves.
And I want you to try it.
So, I am going to show you 3 of the 14 ways to stack books. But what makes this extra special, is you are also going to see how to mix in decor with the books. So, it’s not just a stack of books, it’s a striking arrangement.
Remember, there are 14 ways to stack books and each one comes with recommendations for mixing in decor. I am just going to share three of them with you here.
#3 – Going Both Ways
Mix together the easiest two ways to stack books and you get something even more interesting.
Arrange a stack of books next to upright books. Instead of stacking as a pyramid, the books laying down all butt up to the upright books, acting as a bookend.
This arrangement also allows you to mix up how you display your decor. Add an object, like the wood vase on top of the stacked books. Use another object, like the teal vase, to act as a bookend for the upright books.
#5 – Bookended by Books
Books make great bookends. Use two stacks of books to bookend a group of upright books. Use a tall stack to maximize storage space. On top of a smaller stack, add a decorative object.
#7 – Facing Front
Ever notice how they face certain books out at the bookstore and those are the ones you notice first? It’s good marketing for popular books, but you can also use the idea at home to draw attention to your favorite books or pretty book covers.
For bookstore style, position a row of upright books with a book at the end of the row leaning against the back of the bookcase facing forward. This gives you space to layer a decorative object in front.
If you have lots of books and need all the shelf space you can get, then try the out in front method. Make a tall stack of books, and lean your favorite book on front of the stack.
With just these three new stacking ideas, I know you can make an immediate impact on your bookshelves. I hope you’ll grab a few books and give them a try.
Ready to have more fun with your books? Take the Shelve It: How to Style Bookshelves class. The 3-video class includes basics of bookshelf styling, 14 ways to mix books with decor, and how to choose the right accessories, so you can make your bookshelves look good and make room to mix in meaningful and decorative objects.
Stacey Wilson says
Ugh, we are only allowed to have books “in order” “by subject.” No arranging by color or size, no flipping spines around, nothing. And we have a lot of books. A LOT. It makes styling shelves quite a challenge.
Stacey, I know that can be a challenge, so I cover options for organizing books in the class. But consider this, within each subject you could arrange the books in pretty stacks. And you can use decor to delineate where one subject ends and another begins.
Michelle @ Hey Love Designs says
These are really great ideas. Whenever I try to style books it never seems to go right, so I will definitely use these tips. Thanks for sharing!
I love the facing front ideas. Wouldn’t have thought of that.
I appreciate this…but books aren’t decor…they are to be read and used. They need to be arranged in whatever way you, yourself, will use them, not placed how they look cool. I guess if you’re not a reader, it doesn’t matter.
follow up: I don’t mean to criticize at all…these are great ideas…if you don’t read or reference your books regularly.
I totally understand where you are coming from. I’ve had avid readers implement these ideas successfully. If you segment your books by author, topic, or series, then consider arranging them into pretty stacks within those segments. That way they stay organized in logical groupings, but can still be displayed in interesting ways. We cover more tips on organizing books both functionally and aesthetically in the class.
This is really helpful. I love your ideas and can’t wait to implement them.