Put your tastes and design aesthetic on display fearlessly with these simple styling steps.


Step 1: Choose a bookcase or shelving that works with the style of your room and offers plenty of space for personal objects. If your shelves are part of a freestanding unit, give the case room to stand out.


Step 2: Begin the process with exactly what belongs on a bookshelf: books! Pick a single shelf and place a series of books vertically. Opposite those books, on another shelf, lay several large books horizontally. This will create the core of your look.


Step 3: Create side-by-side stacks on an upper shelf. They will become the hosts for other interesting objects. There’s no need to be precise about matching stacks from shelf to shelf. Balance is the look you’re after—symmetry, not so much.


Step 4: Gather your favorite collection. Here, vintage cameras, clocks, and a single telegraph set the stage. Using a collection ties everything together even when it’s spread throughout the bookcase. But resist the temptation to use every piece you own. Hold a few things back to freshen the display now and then. Place items on different levels to move the eye around the space.


Step 5: Add artwork to fill the blank spaces in the back of cabinet. Set these vertical beauties behind lower objects for depth and don’t forget the top of the bookcase. You could also take a gorgeous book cover and place it front and center as a focal point. Note here how the artwork sits on the left, right, and center to keep the look balanced.


Step 6: Finally, add the details. Decorative objects such as baskets, boxes, and sculpture make a good-looking bookcase great. Choose items with unique shapes. As with collections, rotate things that you really love in and out occasionally. It’s okay to place these items on top of, and in front of, other objects. If you want to add a bit of life, reach for a small plant or two to fill in here and there (opt for plant varieties that thrive on low light and neglect).


This bookcase brings classic midcentury styling to the living room. The simple lines are ideal for this collection of vintage tech. The restrained, neutral palette on the shelves creates a soothing 
minimalist effect.

If your shelving has closed storage below, organize that space with boxes, baskets, and bins that corral loose items. If you need to utilize open shelving for storage, place large or heavier items on lower shelves and select storage containers that enhance your palette and presentation.


Produced by Molly Reed Sinnett
Photographed by Chris Hennessey

© Caruth Studio

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.