Tips and Tricks for Styling Bookcases

Styling Bookcases

By Deborah Hastings

Ah bookcases! In many ways they define us. When I am at someone’s home I am always curious about what they choose to put on their shelves.

It’s not being nosy on my part. I think of a bookcase as a résumé of the people that live there. They can hold a lifetime of stories—not just serve as a storage warehouse for books. Framed pictures that celebrate milestones and artifacts from family history or travels are a great accompaniment to share the space.

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I have designed and built many homes together. We learned from our first house that bookcases were a coveted feature when selling the house. As a result, I have become a shameless hoarder of books. And with each new house, unpacking the boxes is like visiting with old friends and gives a nomadic life constancy.

Bookcases that are built-in add architectural interest to any home, but if you don’t have that option there are some beautiful freestanding bookcases that can make a dramatic addition to any room. If you are buying or building a bookcase, you want it to be sturdy. Books are heavy and shelves that span long distances will sag with too much weight.

Check out the following examples of bookshelves and design tips for making them a stylish addition to your décor!


Bookcases don’t have to be overflowing. Simple restrained arrangements have a calming effect.