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Tips for decorating bookshelves beautifully

Beautifully dressed bookshelves
Beautifully dressed bookshelves
Courtesy of Devane Design
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Bookshelves typically take up a lot of space in a room and their visual appeal can make a big impact. Learning to decorate bookshelves effectively will help define your space. Think of it as hanging art on a vacant wall. What do you want that art to represent? How do you want the room to feel?

Here are some basic considerations when decorating bookshelves:

Don't over decorate! Many homeowners think they need to fill every nook and cranny of open space. This typically results in the area looking cluttered or disorganized. Instead, keep it simple.

Break up symmetry. Bookcases already have too much symmetry and linear design. Use varying heights, round objects, flowing greenery, and unpredictable "patterns" when decorating the shelves to break up the symmetry.

Think outside the “box”. Incorporate round decorative mirrors, artwork on easels, or display decorative platters to help create dimension and visual interest.

Group like items to create the appearance of organization such as items of similar height and color, a family of vases, or assorted picture frames with a similar theme.

Don't hesitate to fill a shelf with a large-scale item, such as a single statue or arrangement. When placed at eye level, it will help create a focal point.

Books should take up no more than 1/3 of the overall space. The remaining space should consist of a balance between open space and decorative items. If you have a larger scale library and you plan to fill more than one shelf end-to-end with books, do so randomly within the bookcase to maintain the visual balance.

To decorate with books, group them according to appearance (similar color, thickness, etc.), use odd numbers (a grouping of three or five books typically works well), and scale them in height (tallest to shortest).

Remember this does not have to be an expensive project! Don't be afraid to "borrow" items from other areas of your home or purchase inexpensive accessories from discount stores, such as Homegoods or Target.

Routinely re-evaluate the space and mix things up by adding some new pieces or rearranging the existing pieces for a new feel.

If the project feels too overwhelming, bring in an expert! A skilled interior designer has an objective eye and their expertise will create a beautiful outcome.