12 Ultra-Cool Bookshelf Decor Ideas to Help You Style Your Dream Library

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Rebecca Deczynski

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Published on January 3, 2023

When you’re a bonafide book-lover, all of your favorite reads make the most wonderful home decor — what could be better than surrounding yourself with pages that have made you smile, laugh, and cry? And with the right bookshelf decor ideas, you can turn your personal library into even more of a design statement. 

Bookshelves are an endlessly versatile piece of decor. When you opt for a grand, floor-to-ceiling shelf, you’ll get plenty of room to store your books, as well as a place to display art and decorative items. Smaller, stand-alone shelves can create the perfect reading nook. And let’s not ignore the fact that some of the most clever bookshelf decor ideas don’t involve any books at all — they do, after all, make a great display for picture frames, ceramics, plants, and other pieces of decor. 

The possibilities for styling a bookshelf are basically limitless — but we know that being faced with a completely empty shelf can be an intimidating prospect. So, where to begin? To help you get started filling your shelves, Havenly designer Kasee Smith has rounded up some of her favorite bookshelf styling ideas for your perusal below. 

1. The not *quite* color coordinated

Bookshelf Decor Ideas

On the internet, you’ll find plenty of debate over the color-coordinated book trend. We say: Both options are a-ok! But if you want to get a cohesive look without going full rainbow, consider grouping similar color families together, as seen on this shelf. It looks deliberate, without being too matchy-matchy.

2. The designer moment

Bookshelf Decor Ideas

Bookshelf styling doesn’t always have to prioritize function over form. For a true standout design moment, channel your inner museum creator to stack interesting items like crystals and travel mementos on decorative shelves with a few select visually pleasing books and magazines.

3. The creative console

Bookshelf Decor Ideas

Who said coffee table books can only be displayed on a coffee table? Certainly not us! In this space, a few large tomes find their perfect home arranged on a media console, while a floating shelf above holds a positively artistic arrangement of plants and artwork.

4. The bonus built-in

Bookshelf Decor Ideas

Consider this an ingenious home office idea: Blend built-in bookshelves in with a small desk area, and you’ll always have inspiration in-reach while you’re working. Best of all, this design idea offers plenty of shelf space for a big book collection (and room for storage boxes that keep clutter out of sight).

5. The curated corner

Bookshelf Decor Ideas

Even if you have a substantial book collection, you don’t have to keep every single one of your volumes together. Instead, select a few favorite titles and arrange them on a small-built in shelf, interspersed with decorative items like vases and curios.

6. The reading nook

Bookshelf Decor Ideas

When you have a bunch of books that need a place in your home, sometimes practicality is the name of the game. This small bookshelf fits plenty of books, while still leaving room for a few decorative items to break it up. Because the shelf is backless, the reading room’s playful wallpaper can peek through — a nice touch!

7. The floor-to-ceiling display

Bookshelf Decor Ideas

Have a spare wall in your living room? Make the most of it by installing floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The minimal frame of these shelves gives them a contemporary appeal, while offering plenty of storage space, perfect for housing books, plants, and decor.

8. The minimal shelving

Bookshelf Decor Ideas

It may be controversial, but arranging your books with their spines facing inward is one way to create a cool, neutral look on a more decorative shelf. Paired with striking ceramics and a few picture frames, these books create a pared-back, artistic look on their sleek shelves.

9. The organized arrangement

Bookshelf Decor Ideas

By mixing up the way you stack your books — laying some vertically on top of one another and others side-by-side — you can create visual interest on your bookshelf. To prevent it from looking too cluttered, space out a few vases and ceramic items on the shelves, too.

10. The elegant display

Bookshelf Decor Ideas

Oversize decorative items — ceramics and sculptural pieces alike — turn these basic white bookshelves into an artistic accent piece. Curation is key: A minimal color palette helps these shelves look refined and uncluttered.

11. The high-contrast curation

Bookshelf Decor Ideas

This black bookshelf pops against its white wall, making its rainbow of books stand out even more. While a few pieces of decor help to give it a styled look, its crowning glory is a lush, cascading pothos plant.

12. Staggered Shelves

built in bookshelve

This time-honored designer trick works every time. Simply stagger vertical and horiztonal stacks of books with large scale vases, bowls, and decor. This simple visual approach invites the eye to wander your well-styled shelves, and looks as literary as it does chic.

Want expert advice on your actual space, straight from an interior designer? Start with our style quiz to work with a design pro one-on-one.

Words by Rebecca Deczynski