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Heather Scott Home & Design is an award-winning interior design firm and sophisticated boutique based in Austin, TX and Scottsdale, AZ. Our blog shares the tasteful home accessories, furnishings and gifts that you can find in our retail boutique. We also feature our design projects, industry trends and expert tips that hope to inspire homeowners to create the stylish & chic home of their dreams.

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Tips for Decorating Bookshelves
April 12, 2013 in Home Furnishings | one comment

We have several great new bookshelves on order and we are waiting for them to arrive.  While discussing these bookshelves,  Amanda (our assistant store manager) mentioned how many customers come in and are challenged by how to decorate their bookshelves at home.  She volunteered to put together some tips on decorating the shelves.


Source: Suzanne Kasler

So, from Amanda, here you go!

Tips on Decorating Bookshelves

1. Decide if you are a minimalist or prefer to display a collection you have acquired over the years.

2. Decide if you prefer the items on the bookshelf to be featured, or if you prefer for the bookshelf itself to be the focal point.

3. Make sure the scale of each piece in reference to the scale of each shelf is taken into consideration.

4. Take your time.


Here is an example of a minimalistic light and airy bookshelf. The way the entire display is pieced together with natural materials, such as the picture frames and baskets, throughout gives consistency. By adding different textures as well, it makes the unit more interesting.

For example, the porcelain elements allow a nice shine, which is mixed with shells giving a textured look and a pop of greenery.  The coral provides a nice textural palette within each shelf. I also appreciate the way they took scale into consideration. Each piece fits very well within each shelf, nothing is overly large or too small.


I love the way this designer took wallpaper with a busier pattern and used it just on the back of the shelving unit to create an eye-catching wall. Each piece is then showcased in a fun and different way.


This simplistic white bookshelf presents more of a collected look in the way  antique books and “old-fashioned” clocks and items are displayed. Books scattered through out (stacked and layered) giving each shelf a different look.

The use of dark and light is also a nice touch since the bookcase itself is white. Notice the interesting piece hung from the actual bookshelf adding a little dimension and the ability to showcase a larger piece.


This is a beautiful example of a way to add some color to a built in simply by picking a favorite color in the space and painting the back of the unit. The color was used on furniture which sits lower in the space so by painting the built in it brings the eye up and gives a nice flow throughout the space.


Here is another example of a painted bookshelf. Notice how every piece stands out just enough. If the backing was white like the shelving, several of these pieces would blend right in to the bookshelf and get lost.


This picture is from one of Heather’s favorite designers, Kay Douglass.  This bookcase is all about the architecture and the color. A very unique approach!

Source: House Beautiful

And here is a more traditional scheme, still clean and eye catching.


Color can also be used as an approach to display a collection.  Notice the use of scale and the importance of grouping. By grouping a stack of books on each shelf, it adds height and acts as a pedestal for shorter pieces.  Also, the use of ‘grouping’ common elements gives the bookshelf a theme, rather than it appearing as if random knick knacks were stuck on a shelf.


Green Pottery Living Room

Source: Wisteria

The bookshelves in this space surround the focal point of this room. The fireplace is a beautiful centerpiece! By adding some colorful books throughout each shelf on each side, it draws your eye to the main wall.

Also, notice how some books are stacked and some are standing. This creates visual interest.  By stacking a few books and adding a piece of coral she has also added a different texture and shape to the shelving units.


If you are in need of a ‘bookshelf’ for your home, as Heather mentioned, we have several new ones coming in soon.  Here is a sneak peek!

1) A very pretty rustic style Iron and Oak bookshelf. Only 30”wx16”D and 85”H


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2) In contrast, a little more ‘uptown’ look with a polished silver base with reclaimed oak shelves.  36″W X 14″D X 78″H


I hope this gives you an idea of how to decorate your next built-in bookshelf or bookcase! If you are in the market for a new bookcase of your own come in and take a look at these bookcases we will be receiving in a few weeks!