Almost everyone at home owns a bookshelf or some kind of open shelf, and it’s very hard to keep those bookshelves from becoming a mess. Things might keep piling up on them until there’s a whole mess on the open shelves. Now there are open shelves in your living room or bedroom that look cluttered and messy no matter how many times you try to manage them, and you’re at a loss. 

But how do you turn your messy bookshelf into an artful collection of books, decoration pieces, and other trinkets? How is it that people can make their bookshelves fit in so seamlessly with the rest of their interior decor? Well, a lot of it comes down to being smart about color variations, knowing how to buy the decoration pieces, varying heights, and other things that we will discuss today. 

Keep reading to learn more about styling your shelves, and how to give them your desired effect. 

Things to Place on the Shelves 


Sometimes, people tend to only use their bookshelves and open shelves for storage, and while that’s all well and good you might want to rethink that concept. That’s a lot of decor potential that’s going to waste, not to mention how your open shelves are always going to look like a mess if you don’t have anything interesting on there. 

  • Plants: Use local flower delivery options to have fresh flowers delivered to your doorstep, or use small indoor plants as decor. Things like succulents, indoor moss, and some other varieties will lend a lot of charm to your shelves. 
  • Statues: If you want to add something interesting to your open shelves, think about statues and sculptures – you can either have something bought online, or you can make your own out of different materials. 
  • Books: Books are a great way to show your likes, dislikes, and personality to someone. They’re also a classic addition to any shelves in the bedroom or the living room and have a lot of decor potential. 
  • Vases: These come in all shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. This is why they also make a great addition to your shelves whether you put anything inside or not. 
  • Baskets: On your shelves, baskets serve two purposes – one, they can be a welcome addition that is more stable and lower than the vases, books, and other decor on there. Two, they can be used to hold all of your little knick-knacks like jewelry and pins. 

Vary the Heights 

If you make everything on your shelves the same height throughout all levels, it will look too monotonous and boring. Even if there is a lot of color and texture variation going on, it will all blend together to create an unbroken wall of stuff that isn’t adding much to your space. 

This is why you need to make sure you break the monotony of your books, spice jars, decor, or plants with something that is a little different and breaks the pattern. You can move things around until you figure out an arrangement that works and you feel looks good, but it’s usually a good idea to have all kinds of shapes and sizes of things on your shelf. 

Buy Things Gradually 

You might want to rethink your decor strategy if you’re just buying pieces to display without putting much thought into whether they’re important enough to be displayed outside or not. Open shelves are more for decor than they are for storage sometimes, but you also have minimal space on them – keep too much stuff there and the shelves will look cramped and messy no matter how neatly everything is arranged. 

This is why you need to be careful about what you place on your shelves, and refrain from placing items that don’t mean much to you or you’re unsure about. Buy all your pieces one by one to fill up your selves with a personal touch. 

Keep it Clean 

Like we’ve said before – the more stuff you put on the shelves the messier it will look. If you have things to put away, keep them behind a door in the closed shelves or a cabinet or storage room. When thinking about what to put on your open shelves, be very very picky and never display anything that you’re not very sure about or don’t want to talk about – especially since people do ask questions about some interesting items on your shelf sometimes. 

Pay Attention to Color 


The best way to make sure the colors on your bookshelf are varied yet cohesive is to settle on a color scheme a while in advance. You can do this by choosing two to three colors, patterns, and textures to center your decor around and then balance them on the shelf by spreading around all the colors on different parts of the shelf. 

A great way to make sure all your decor matches each other without looking too similar is to make a vision board or pick a certain theme, and then match the decor to that theme instead of matching it to each other. This works not just for shelves but also for decorating any other area of the home from scratch. 

Add Art 

One of the best ways to breathe life into a place or to your bookshelf is to add art to it. You can use anything from small paintings to tasteful photos and texture collages, and even funny comics or jokes made by your favorite online artists. 

Another idea is to put up frames with text inside them, but you will need to be careful not to overdo it with the art. If the shelf is too small, you can even paint the shelf itself and put drawings on the sides. It also works if you’re just putting art next to the shelf on one or both sides. 

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