The expression shelfie originated from a fun combination of shelf and selfie. It illustrates how a bookcase or shelf can reflect the personality of its owner.
The location of your bookshelves and the choice of items they contain – whether these are books, family photos, or decorative objects – deserve special attention.
Here are some tips to decorate a living room bookcase with great style.
How to decorate a bookcase with books
Books have their natural place in a bookcase. However, you don’t have to align them all perfectly in a vertical position: stack a few horizontally to break the monotony. Arrange your large books diagonally, leaning on a circular object such as a decorative bowl.
You can even position a few books backwards, spine towards the back, so that the visible pages create an intriguing texture. Place your books sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right, sometimes in the middle of each section for more variety.
To get a more homogeneous look, browse around second-hand bookshops and garage sales to pick up some collections of books with identical binding. You can also design your own fabric book covers to choose the color or pattern.
How to decorate bookshelves without books
Incorporate things that appeal to you or have a special meaning to add color and personality to your arrangement. If you have enough, maybe you won’t need books at all!
The possibilities are endless: artwork, travel souvenirs, antiques, family portraits, or simply decorative items that make you smile. Create contrasts and harmony by playing with textures and colors.
Here are some ideas to consider:
- A charming and old-fashioned typewriter goes wonderfully with some vintage books. Check out classified ads or visit antique shops to find one at an affordable price.
- Fill a large decorative bowl or vase with small objects that represent you: corks, shells, miniature cars, wool balls, coffee beans…
- Add a touch of elegance with a few metal accessories like a chandelier, table lamp, or jewelry box. Do not hesitate to combine several metals. For example, you can mix gold and silver while maintaining dominant shades, depending on the color of your walls.
- A few indoor plants will add greenery to your creation and contribute to the quality of the ambient air. Choose pots with textures and materials that complement your decor.
Pro tips for decorating your bookcase
Think of each section of your bookcase as a small painting and combine the elements to tell a story. Here are some tips:
- Place large objects first, such as baskets or artwork. Once you are happy with their balance and layout, refine your arrangement by adding progressively smaller items.
- Place a frame or artwork towards the back of a shelf, then add decorative objects in the front. This will give you an interesting play of depth.
- Stack a few books of the same subject horizontally and top it off with a small accessory related to the theme. When dealing with vertically arranged books, use sufficiently heavy objects as bookweights.
- Favor visual contrasts by varying the height and materials of nearby objects, such as installing a long, tapered glass vase near a shallow wicker basket.
- Arrange similar objects in odd numbers (1, 3, or even 5 objects) to achieve a balanced look.
Where should the bookcase be placed in relation to other furniture?
Generally, it is best to position a bookcase along a wall with little sunlight, to prevent your books and printed matter from tarnishing under the effect of UV rays.
In a large open-concept room, consider installing a bookcase without a back panel as a partition. For example, the Stealth model wonderfully combines veneered wood and irregular caissons with lacquered strips, creating an intriguing showcase on each side.
Can a bookcase be placed near a fireplace?
If your living room has a fireplace, make it stand out it by installing symmetrical bookcases on either side. Clear the space above the mantelpiece to install a TV, a large mirror, artwork, or a key element of your decor.
Dark or light-colored bookcase?
If you want your furniture to grab attention, choose a model in a color that contrasts with the rest of the decor or has a bold design. The Nassil wood bookcase, with its central support and organic curves, is sure to turn heads.
In a sober or Scandinavian-inspired decor, install several white bookcases in a row to create a neutral canvas while your objects will bring life and color. When in doubt, it’s hard to go wrong with a white bookcase with a minimalist design like Westlyn.
Bookcase or storage cabinet?
Think first about the practicality and role your bookcase will play. Would you like to showcase your books and items of personal significance? Opt for a model with open shelves.
Alternatively, do you intend to hide a large number of articles in it to visually clear your place? The boho-chic Natya storage cabinet, with its openwork doors set with rattan cane webbing, will do the trick.
To get the best of both worlds, consider Weston, a bookcase whose open shelves can accommodate your most beautiful items, while its lower section is equipped with doors that offer discreet storage.
Put these tips into practice to create a shelfie of your own style, and above all, have fun!