How To: Style a Bookshelf

How to Style a Bookshelf - A Side of Fabulous

The other day I looked at an article on beautiful bookshelves, and in the comment section was a question asking for tips on how to make books look less cluttered. I replied, and in doing so decided to expand on the tips I left them and turn it into a post for everyone!

Here is how I like to organize and style bookshelves:

Sort your books into categories.

This can be by genre, read/to-read, color of cover, or any other category your heart desires. Choose categories that make the most sense to you and will help you find what you want to read with ease and speed later.

My personal preference is genre with an added "to read" section. This helps me find what I'm looking for, as well as remind me of what I haven't read. (Handy when I go book shopping...or to not go book shopping because I have too much to read still!) A friend of mine has a complicated sorting system that makes perfect sense in her brain, so works really well for her.

Choose whatever works best for you, no matter how you see others saying it "should" be done. #dontshouldonyourself

If you have too many books to comfortably fit on your booshelf/bookshelves, let go of enough so that they all fit.

Please note that I didn't say you have to get rid of all of them or even any of them. Hell, you can buy more shelving if you have the space for it, and that's what you want. To create a stylish bookcase, however, the books need some room to breath. 

Note: if you dig the look of solid books and nothing else, that's cool too. Put everything on the shelves by their chosen category, and you're done. If you want a little more of a styled out look, continue.

Arrange books by height.

Personally, I like to go alternate each shelf with ascending, descending, or all the books on their side to add some variety to the look. If there are a lot of books, I may arrange them with the tallest in the middle descending out, or the shortest in the center ascending out.


Pro tip: when laying books on their side, stack them in size order so they look like a pyramid. When there aren't enough books to go across the shelf - or you just don't want to totally fill the shelf - then take a few books and lay them on their side to create a book-end. This bookend stack also gets arranged by height with the largest book on the bottom and smallest on the top - all bumped up against the end of the upright books.


Want the shelves to look ultra clean? Place all the books the same distance from the edge of the shelf. This can be placed flush with the edge or a little bit in, just as long as they're all even. 

(Caveat: if you want your books alphabetized (#nojudgement) then this most likely won't work for you. Best to line them all up along the shelves, with little to no breaks, and move on.)


add in the fun stuff.

This breaks up the solid lines and adds more personalization to your shelves. I like to put photos and other objects in blank spaces and/or on top of the books that are stacked on their side. (See above photo for example.)

Et voila! A styled-out bookshelf that's also organized!

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How do you organize and arrange your bookshelves? Leave it in the comments! 

Melinda Massie - A SIde of Fabulous

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