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bookcase styling

How to Style a Bookcase: 5 Takes on this Storage Essential

Not every home update has to be a major reno. Sometimes all you need is to restyle a few surfaces to bring new perspective into your spaces. One way to do that is by rearranging your bookshelves.

There’s no shortage of bookcase styling ideas on Instagram and Pinterest—and for good reason. The bookshelf is the ultimate storage piece. Beyond books, you can decorate the shelves with art, sculptures, plants, and other storage vessels, which ultimately turn the shelves into stylish displays and focal points in a room. Whether you have a built-in bookshelf in your living room, floating shelves above your bed or a freestanding bookcase next to your work desk at home, consider filling them with your favorite decor objects alongside books to add a bit of visual interest.

bookcase styling

It’s not all just about style either. Part of what makes the bookshelf one of our top furniture essentials is that you can customize and tailor it to suit your storage needs as well as how you use your space. If you love plants, you can layer lots of greenery to create an interior vertical garden of sorts, or if you have children, you stow and stack away storage baskets and bins with toys. It’s all up to you how you want to decorate and use your shelving.

Here, we’ve rounded up five ways to style your bookshelf that are tried-and-true and guaranteed to give your rooms a whole new look and vibe. Read on for more and get our bookshelf styling tips along the way.

bookcase stylingTake #1: Shelves With A Mix Of Decor

Be it books and art or vases and bowls, this layered approach to decorating your shelves is all about curating a display of decorative objects and accents. Balance is essential here. You want to make sure your bookcase is arranged so that each of the shelves have an even distribution of decor and open spacing.

The Key Styling Elements:

  • Start with the big things. Begin by adding large, solid objects, such as tall vessels and boxes, to ground your shelves.
  • Layer in the small touches. Follow up with accessories, like framed art and decorative objects, so that each shelf tells a story and feels like a collection versus a random grouping of items.
  • Get creative with books. Line your books up vertically as usual, then stack bigger ones horizontally in piles of twos and threes. This helps balance out the shapes of the other decor.

Good rule of thumb: If you’re struggling with what objects to place where, try grouping things in threes (two small objects with one large item). It’s the easiest way to create a curated look.

This is perfect for… those who love a classic and elegant display that’s curated with all of their favorite books, art and mementos.

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bookcase stylingTake #2 – Shelves With Stylish Storage

Skip the books and double up on storage by arranging bookshelves with vessels, boxes, trays, and decorative baskets that provide even more storage. This is one of our favorite ways to minimize visual clutter of tchotchkes and small loose items. Plus, there’s no wrong way to decorate your shelves with this approach.

The Key Styling Elements:

  • Box it up. Stylish storage boxes are your best friends here since they come as a set in multiple sizes. Whether you stack them together or spread them out, it’ll always result in a cohesive look.
  • Think trays and jars. For a chic catchall, you can’t beat trays. Pair them with lidded jars that also keep knicknacks out of sight. From afar they’ll look like part of a beautiful bookshelf display.
  • Sprinkle in baskets. Not all baskets need to be tall and huge. They can be just big enough to hold books, toys, and remote controls. Go for matching ones so that you have a consistent look.

Good rule of thumb: The lower shelves are where you can be a little more prescriptive and just use them for storage baskets. It’s perfect for boxes for toys that children can easily grab.

This is perfect for… family-friendly spaces where practical storage is paramount but you still want your organization to come off as chic and cohesive looking.

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bookcase stylingTake #3 – Shelves With Plants & Greenery

Even if you’re not a plant parent, decorating with a bit of greenery on your shelves will help break up the color palette and also bring visual interest to your bookshelf. There’s no rule for the plants you bring in but we recommend low-light greenery and cacti, since those are low maintenance.

The Key Styling Elements:

  • Stack succulents. If you’re not sure how you’ll be able to take good care of plants, start with small cacti and succulents. Place them on stacks of books for some instant color and texture.
  • Opt for potted plants. Add large potted plants to serve as visual bookends that anchor top and middle shelves. Flowers, such as orchids, are great for bringing a colorful and sculptural touch.
  • Go faux. You also don’t have to go by the books and only stick to live plants. Faux greenery and flowers will provide the same vibrancy and color (without the need for care) to your shelves.

Good rule of thumb: Make sure to leave lots of breathing room for your plants on your bookshelves. You don’t want to overcrowd and dwarf them by adding books and lots of other objects. Stick to a few decorative items.

This is perfect for… modern minimalists who love airy plant-filled home look. This is definitely for someone who loves an uncluttered space as much as they love plants and greenery.

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bookcase stylingTake #4 – Shelves With Sculptural Objects

Your bookshelf is one of the best places to showcase personal collections, such as meaningful artworks and sculptures. With this approach, it’s all about filling your shelves with sculptures and accents that have unique and interesting shapes. Adding them alongside books is a great way to add movement and break up the straight lines of your bookshelves.

The Key Styling Elements:

  • Layer by size. Start by placing your largest sculptures and art pieces in the back of your shelves, then add smaller pieces in front. This creates a sense of depth that will draw focus.
  • Spread out similar items. Try to break up colors and shapes. It can be as simple as not grouping all the small white vases in one spot and dispersing them across several shelves.
  • Let statement pieces shine. Some accents shine brighter on their own, like statement vases and sculptures, which are more captivating without books and other objects around them.

Good rule of thumb: Not everything needs to be arranged in a cluster of three—which works best if you have an eclectic mix of decor. Separate matching objects and mix things up. It’ll feel more dynamic.

This is perfect for… collectors and art-lovers who want to show off the unique things they’ve amassed, be it a finds from their travels around the world or precious art given to them by friends.

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bookcase stylingTake #5 – Shelves With Colorful Accents

If you’re looking for a fun way to liven up the mood in a room, punch up a bookshelf with bright accents that add pops of bold colors. This is great if you have bookshelves in a living room that has mostly neutral furnishings, or if you’re working with a space that’s surrounded with stark white walls. Think of your shelves as a blank canvas for color!

The Key Styling Elements:

  • Complementary colors. Stick to colors that complement each other (blues and oranges here) for anchors. You can then explore accents in all the different shades of the colors you choose.
  • Pair books with plants. Give your bookshelves a bold dose of color and texture by topping colorful art books with a leafy plant. The natural greenery will help offset all the bright tones.
  • Oddities are great. When it comes to colorful accents, the more whimsical and odd the item the better. So bring on the weirdly shaped urn and the wild-patterned bowl. They all belong here!

Good rule of thumb: Color-blocking with your books is always a winning look. Group together the coffee table books that have the same color cover and spine to create a coordinated look that turns your shelves into an organized and eye-catching display.

This is perfect for… boho-style lovers who enjoy a mashup of colors and eclectic finds that each have a backstory. It’s all about keeping things quirky here!

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Our Modsy Story: Designing Jackie and Mike a Living-Dining Room They Both Love

Jackie and Mike wanted the perfect living-dining space for their new home but were struggling to make their dream come to life. See what happened when they decided to try Modsy.

Homeowners: Jackie and Mike, insurance underwriter + travel blogger and a medical sales representative

Location: Atlanta, GA

Room: Living-Dining Room

Their Style: Classic Collector + Rustic Traveler

The Backstory

We got married two and a half years ago and moved straight into a one-bedroom apartment in the city. We knew this was just a temporary space, so we never put too much thought or effort into making it feel like “home.”

When we moved into our new house, things changed—we were so excited about having a place we could call our own and wanted to get everything just right. We wanted our home to be a welcoming space with a cozy style that we’d enjoy for many, many years to come.

The Design Dilemma

Like many couples, we have similar yet different styles, Mike likes more classic traditional pieces and I enjoy the more bohemian style, on top of that, neither of us is a design “guru” by any means so it was challenging finding the right mix. We’d spent a fair amount of time on Pinterest and had ideas that we loved, but we struggled to put our different visions into action.

“We’d spent a fair amount of time on Pinterest and had ideas that we loved, but we struggled to put our different visions into action.”

Our living-dining area was a particular challenge for us—we were starting from scratch and it was overwhelming trying to figure out how to begin, where to shop, and how to stick to our budget. It was even harder to find items that fit both of our style needs and felt as cozy as we wanted.

The Modsy Moment

We first heard about Modsy from the blog In Honor Of Design—we loved the guest room that she designed with Modsy so much! We also loved the idea of using a professional design service that could help us create our dream living-dining space virtually. It seemed like the best way to get our new home in order!

How Modsy Helped Jackie and Mike

We were SO excited to see the first round of Modsy designs, and they fully lived up to our expectations. It was cool seeing our exact room designed online in 3D for the first time. Modsy brought our different design dreams together into one cohesive reality! Plus, all the furniture they picked was beautiful and we both loved the selection!

“We were SO excited to see the first round of Modsy designs, and they fully lived up to our expectations.”

It’s so wonderful that Modsy lets you order from a bunch of different brands. Which helped us find all the right pieces, even a pet-friendly rug for our dog, Hooper! We loved that they took care of things like price matching and shipping coordination. The discount codes were also great for large orders (we saved tons). We’ve purchased quite a few items from our Modsy designs. It’s been a blast putting our room together and seeing it come to life!

The Real Results

We wanted a casual, relaxed vibe that still felt traditional and that is what Modsy gave us! We love how our living-dining room provides both an inviting eating area and a cozy gathering space. It’s warm, welcoming, and comfortable. It’s truly a joy being in our home and living in the designs that Modsy helped create. Plus, It’s perfect for our daily streaming of Good Morning America while making breakfast. We love it and hope to do a few additional rooms in the future!

“It has been so comforting having our living-dining room designed during this unprecedented time.”

It has been so comforting having our living-dining room designed during this unprecedented time. Although it is hard not to go stir-crazy after 14+ days of social distancing, being able to spend time in our newly furnished home brings comfort and peace to both of us. We’re grateful for this laidback and welcoming space to call home in what is otherwise an uncertain and discomforting time in our world.

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cozy room

Get Ready to Snuggle Up With Our Best Cozy Room Decor Ideas

Winter is finally here and that means it’s time to snuggle up and get cozy at home. For interiors, that means playing with a warm palette, piling on lots of plush pillows and blankets, and adding just the right amount of mood lighting.

Read on for inspiring ways to bring all these elements into your home and usher in comfort and coziness – no matter your space or your style. Trust us, it’s easier than you think.

cozy roomClassic & Comfy

Try taking a refined approach with a focus on rich, cozy details. With the right large-scale upholstery, a dark palette, and lots of good lighting and glimmering metallic touches, you can create a room that’s tailored (but not overly formal) while still feeling warm and welcoming.

Look to a Luxe Palette:

Keep to more substantial color schemes, such as gray, slate and deep blue-gray tones paired with ashy hues, charcoals, and black. Combine these hues for a luxe, streamlined feel, that’s not too rigid. The effect will be one that evokes a sophisticated lounge and polished speakeasy.

Look to Luxe Details:

Add texture with pieces that have lots of rich details, such as a patterned rug, a button-tufted linen sofa, or club chairs with enveloping seat backs. Mix it all with furnishings accented with leather, brass, and gold, which can lend a warm finish to your space. The idea is to let these smaller, distinct details shine amid the dark palette of the room.

Perfect For: Open floor plans, industrial loft spaces, living areas with high ceilings.

Love the look? Learn more about the Industrial Classic style.

cozy roomEclectic & Cozy

If you’re working with a small space, consider cozying up the room with an eclectic mix of furnishings that impart color and warmth. Rather than light and airy pieces, focus on bringing in designs with strong colors and big patterns that give your space an intimate vibe.

Opt for Warm Tones:

When it comes to cozying up a smaller space, no need to shy away from color. Warm tones, such as deep yellows, greens, and reds can come together to create an inviting, eclectic palette.

Opt for a Warm Mix:

Layer, layer, layer. It’s about a perfect mismatched mix of comfy furnishings and warm accents that make a cozy statement. Think a modern lamp with a traditional table, a woven chair paired with a streamlined one. Then try piling on big patterns (a colorful rug), soft textures (fluffy pillows), and rich materials (woven chairs and accents) to create a space that’s intimate and impactful.

Perfect For: Small city apartments, studio spaces, multipurpose spaces.

Love the look? Tour a modern studio after Mary Tyler Moore.

cozy roomGlamorous & Relaxing

Go for chic style and a convivial vibe by creating a gathering place that’s rich in color, shimmer, and strong textures. Here, it’s about setting a glamorous tone while maintaining casual comforts for a family-friendly space.

Go for Bold Hues:

Jewel-tones, such as cobalt, ruby, sapphire, and amethyst, can be surprisingly versatile in a living space. Plus, deep saturated hues will also provide a space with an instant cozy vibe. Opt for a sofa in a bold neutral, such as a dark navy blue, and pillows and accents in other ravishing bright tones, which will allow you to easily change up the look to be festive or family-friendly.

Go for Bold Textures:

Think lustrous velvet for your sofas and chairs, a plush rug or embroidered pillows, and nubby ottomans. The result is a stylish mix of fabrics with distinct finishes, from soft to strong. Having a wide variety of textures is a great way to balance out bright colors and jewel tones. Round it all out with a few gold and metallic pieces.

Perfect For: A family room, an open living room in a house, a large den.

cozy roomModern & Warm

No need to sacrifice coziness when it comes to modern furnishings. In fact, if a simple, modern style is what you’re going for, try modern designs that hit rustic notes, have generous scale and proportions, and come in warm neutrals hues.

Combine Cozy Neutrals:

From ivory and off-white to grays and browns, neutrals with warm undertones paired with natural woods bring a sense of rustic coziness. Bonus: Add lots of dim lighting and glowing candles to draw focus to the neutral palette.

Combine Cozy Materials:

Select furnishings made with sumptuous materials. Try adding a leather armchair, a deep clean-lined sofa in off-white, a light cowhide rug, and smooth ceramics. The idea is to choose materials that are soft and underscore a cozy vibe, then pile on cushy pillows and blankets to complete a rich, layered look that will make you want to curl up day and night.

Perfect For: A small family room, a library or guest room, an office den.

Love the look? Revisit the 2017 Danish trend, Hygge.

 

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