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The best items for styling a bookshelf

the best items for styling your bookshelves

Styling a bookshelf can be hard! You love the look of a styled bookshelf, but what do you put on it to make it feel cohesive and stylish?

Decorating a bookshelf is one of my favorite ways to add personality and decor to a room. How many times have you stood in a friend or family members home and perused the items of a bookshelf. A styled bookshelf can offer so much about your story – from family photos to relics from past adventures. A styled bookshelf is a representation of you and your personality!

Additionally, a styled bookshelf offers the perfect opportunity to change up seasonal decor without a lot of fuss! For example, a beautiful vintage wine bucket that holds pretty Hydrangea blooms in Summer can hold golden harvest wheat stalks for Fall!

However, styling a bookshelf can be a bit daunting. You don’t want your bookshelves to feel cluttered, so how do you decide what items would work well, without feeling unintentional? Below are some tried and true ideas that will help! Also, make sure to check out How to Style a Bookshelf for some tips and tricks on bookshelf styling!
And remember, EVERYONE edits and then re-edits their bookshelf styling! There is no shame in arranging something , taking a step back to access how it “feels” and then returning to arrange it again. Once you get it just right, using the items below, your bookshelves will be a beautiful focal point of your room!

Framed Photos and Artwork

Framed photos of family, friends or memories from your travels are a great way to add personality and conversation pieces to your bookshelves! The secret to keeping it from looking cluttered is by choosing frames that have consistency. For example, you could choose frames that have a common color. Perhaps you have a few that vary in size and thickness, but they are all gold? This creates cohesion while also adding interest. These gold frames are a great option (and price point!) and comes in a variety of sizes to add interest and variety.

Artwork is another great way to add simple style and interest to your bookshelves. Try leaning a framed piece in a corner or even placing an unframed canvas atop a stack of books. Etsy is one of my favorite places to search for beautiful and vintage artwork. On Etsy you can find not only authentic and original oil paintings, but also affordable vintage replicas that you can print and frame yourself!

Beautiful “print at home” vintage art from Etsy
a living room with styled built in bookshelves
group of 7 gold frames with white mattes available on Amazon
A group of gold frames

Decorative or Found Objects

Another must have item for styling your bookshelves are decorative or found objects! There’s no need to overthink this one, simply find something that makes you happy. It could be a visually interesting piece of art, like this one from McGee and Co., a family relic or even something you’ve found at a thrift store that makes you smile! If you’ve been around a while you know I have quite a few thrifted items! And don’t overlook the opportunity to makeover a thrifted object and make it something that your proud to display! Art doesn’t have to be expensive, it simply needs to make you happy!

Photo from mydomaine.com – Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography


Plants are another great item to add when styling your bookshelves! Not only do plants reduce stress, but they are a great way to add movement and texture to your shelf. Whether tailored or cascading it’s hard to go wrong! (Hint: Did you know Amazon offers live plants delivered right to your home?!)

Don’t have a green thumb? Don’t worry, there are plenty of affordable and beautiful faux options these days that look great and elevate your mood, but without any of the maintenance! 

styled bookshelves with various items and plants
A group of 3 live plants available on Amazon
This artificial fern is the perfect, no-maintenance plant for styling a bookshelf


OK, this one seems obvious, but don’t forget to add actual books to your bookshelves! The main thing to keep in mind when adding books is to visually break up the space. This can be achieved by stacking some, laying some flat and/or leaning them. Also, don’t forget to mix in some of the above mentioned items to help make the space more interesting. Books make the perfect plant pedestal, adding height and interest!

Lastly, have fun with your books! Mix them up displaying books of personal interest, or try arranging them in color blocks, displaying vintage books of a shared color. Another idea would be to add texture and interest with a stack of stripped down farmhouse books, like the stacks below.

This farmhouse book stack offers textural interest and height when styling your bookshelves

Tips and tricks to remember

Remember, the most important thing is to have fun when styling your bookshelves… don’t stress over it! Keep things minimal and don’t overstuff. Give your shelves room to breathe and keep the eye moving by mixing things up – your styling does not need to be perfectly symmetrical.

Hopefully this gave you some fun ideas and inspiration to tackle your bookshelves! Have a fun items you like to use on yours? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear!

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