Put a shelf on it. How to decorate with bookshelves.

July 17, 2014 3 min read

Whether you live in a McMansion or 40 square metre studio apartment - we all have something to store or display. It might be the Murano vase you picked up in Venice or the latest novel, and it needs somewhere to call home. One of the most common requests we get at CLU. is for bookshelves. They utilise space efficiently and, if decorated correctly, look great!

I have four simple rules for incorporating bookshelves in your home.

This is very important. Bookshelves vary greatly and can be as narrow as 95mm wide up to 1200mm or more. Since most bookshelves are around 1800mm high, they make efficient use of space regardless of the width. If it is going in an alcove, go as wide as you can to fill it. If it is going in a wide space, go to rule 2 below.

If you have a wide wall to fill up, one of my favorite design tricks is to group multiple bookcases together to create a dramatic effect. Of course, this is dependent on how much wall space you have! Ideally, it should be an odd number like three or five.

Since bookshelves are tall, they make great end pieces to furniture that is lower in height. TV cabinets or buffets are ideal candidates and create a gorgeous focal point in the room. The bookcases simply frame in the lower height furniture piece and visually grounds it. Imagine a bookshelf on either end framing a TV cabinet and a TV. It creates a rectangular decorating area on the wall that is substantial and visually interesting.

I decorate a bookshelf with the small top to heavy bottom rule. Small items are on the top level shelf and larger items are placed on the bottom levels. Heavy large books should always be on the bottom level. If the books are too big, stack them on their sides. Picture frames should be at eye level. Use heavy decorative items as bookends. Sentimental or significant items should be on their own shelf  to highlight their importance.

Check out the latest in bookshelves:

1) Mid Pool Bookshelf

Designed by Andre Zingg, Switzerland

The Mid Pool leaning bookshelf features a 200mm shelf depth for books and other items. This is one of the most compact bookshelves on the market.  The leaning design allows for added stability. Choice of black or white.

View the Midpool>

2) Eileen 5156 Leaning Bookshelf

Designed by Matthew Weatherly, United States

The attractive Eileen leaning bookshelf from BDIusa looks great alone or when combined in groups to create a complete wall system. The shelf rests securely against the wall and its tempered grey tinted shelves are perfect for books or displaying your favourite items. Available in three finishes. Tempered glass shelves will hold up to 22kg.  Available in espresso stained oak, natural walnut and satin white. (Note the satin white bookshelf has white glass shelves.)

View the Eileen >

3) Phase 5130 Bookshelf

Designed by Matthew Weatherly, United States

Brand new from BDI, the Phase 5130 shelf is the perfect showcase for books and collectibles. It has clean lines and attractive details. This shelf looks great alone or when used in multiples. The shallow depth of 340mm is perfect for compact spaces while still being stylish. Choice of natural walnut or graphite with white or black metal trim.

View the Phase>