Styling Bookshelves

Yesterday I drove down to Puyallup to do a little work on my friend and repeat client Laura's bookshelves, followed by a small gathering of women who wanted to learn all my styling secrets! We enjoyed the refreshments that Laura had prepared and then I spoke on my method for styling bookshelves, using the freshly restyled shelves behind me as an example. The small group size let us have a real discussion and each of the women asked thoughtful questions. Even though each of them was picturing her own unique shelving situation and needs, we covered the main ideas. My mantra that I tried to hammer home was "balanced but not symmetrical and with colors that pop." Here are the shelves after a little sprucing:


Laura and her husband keep most of their paperbacks upstairs, so we  were mostly working with the special hardcover books and a lot of family mementoes. Because the wood shelves are very dark, we swapped out black picture frames for white ones that added contrast with the shelves. Taking cues from some beautiful Scandinavian plates (one on each side), we highlighted shades of red and blue. We also brought in some metallic tones (like mercury glass vessels, silver trinkets, and gold touches) to reflect light and feel lighter and brighter.

I repeated similar shapes and elements on both sides of the shelves, but they are not symmetrical. I also used a staggered approach to placing the books and picture frames, and kept bulkier pieces spread out (to not have one side or section feel particularly weighty while another looked cluttered with trinkets).

It was so fun to share some of my knowledge with these women and talk about my process - much of which is intuitive but I learned I could articulate many of the principles behind my "gut feeling" that something is out of place. I hope to do more of these kinds of meetups in the future!

Are you working on styling your own bookshelves? I'm excited that Ryan is hanging some shelves for us this week so I'll finally get to do a bit of styling (our one shelf is so jam packed right now that I haven't been able to carve out any space for decoration!). Tips to share? Questions? Hit me up in the comments.