Top Decorating Ideas for Shelves & Bookshelves

I’ll share with you my top decorating ideas for shelves, built-ins, and bookcases. Shelf and bookcase decor can be easy if you know a few simple techniques using size, color, and how to group items.

I also like to add stylish storage items like boxes from the Studio McGee line at Target. So if you want to know the tricks used by Pottery Barn for decorative shelves, read on for staging tips and more!

My inspiration

This time, my inspiration was Pottery Barn and how they styled their shelves using a lot of books. I have a bunch of books but they aren’t quite like the Pottery Barn look. I need them to be the same color so I’m going to wrap them in construction paper.

Another item Pottery Barn used was beautiful greenery. I bought these from Hobby Lobby instead and I’ll make it work.

I also used some gorgeous boxes from Target’s Studio McGee line.

Shelf styling tips

If you can nail scale and symmetry, you have the basic tools you need to style your shelves. Use the largest items first and fill in with medium-sized items, then with the smaller items.

This is the best order to create harmony, organization, and symmetry. For example, I’m going to use books to style the shelves. You’ll see that I repeated the process at least once or twice.

And, scale is important. Bigger items will go on your bigger shelves, and smaller will go on smaller shelves. I try to stay away from items that are too small because it starts to look cluttered.

Color theme

I’ll have one major color theme for the entire area. I’m making it neutrals here. I’ll bring in a bit of a second color and then a pop of a third color.

Some pieces I use to style

This big, heavy bowl is from Pottery Barn.

The box on the bottom shelf is a gift from my children and I filled it with handmade birthday cards and things they’ve made for me. The moss bowl above it comes from Target and the beads were a gift.

I’m using books to style, as I mentioned, and you will see them repeated in a few different places for symmetry.

The reveal

Here’s the finished product. It’s nice and balanced. It’s mostly neutrals plus blue as a secondary color and a pop of green. Here’s what it looks like in the daytime (top) and the nighttime (bottom).

Hopefully, you found these tips helpful if you struggle with styling shelves and built-ins. Remember, I used three different sizes–small, medium, and large–and then three different colors to pull the look together. Let me know if this behind-the-scenes look at bookcase decor ideas inspired you. Leave me comments below!

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