Styling a bookshelf seems like it would be an easy task, but when I went to decorate mine, I learned just how difficult I can be. Especially because as soon as I started, I realized I didn’t really have any books. That was kind of embarrassing. So anyway, this is the route I took and I hope it’s helpful if you ever venture down this path.
Trevor and I have an awkward corner in our living room (which I’ll talk more about in another post), but I knew right away a bookshelf would be a perfect remedy to the situation, or at least help off-set the awkwardness. I had been lusting after some bookshelves at West Elm, but those weren’t in my budget so I went with this one from Target.
The space looked better already even without it being decorated, so that was a great start, but things got a little stickier from there. I found myself getting so frustrated because I was struggling to make this bookshelf look effortless, and something that supposed to look effortless should not take this much brain power.
After trying out a few arrangements and hating them, I decided to start thinking about the bookshelf like a coffee table. For coffee tables, you need things like accessories, books and maybe a plant, so that’s the direction I ran in.
Accessories should be reflective of your personal style – for me that meant an apothecary jar, plants, sculptural details, a touch of calligraphy and few more random knick knacks. I also knew I wanted a clock on one of the shelves because there isn’t a clock anywhere else in the room.
There really isn’t any particular order I think you should start in like top to bottom or middle outwards, etc., because chances are you’re going to end up moving things around. With my white vases (from one of my fav local shops, Refined Design. Read about them here), though, I knew they had to go on the top because they’re too tall for any other shelf, plus I really wanted to take up as much vertical space as possible since the ceilings are so high.
Some of the other objects of interest, I got at local places like Stella Collective (the quartz), Cora Calligraphy (be brave) and an estate sale (the birds).
Like I mentioned previously, I didn’t have any books to put on this shelf (oops), so I bought a few by people I admire that had been lingering in my Amazon cart for a while—Styled by Emily Henderson, Cravings by Chrissy Teigen, Everyday Cooking by Minimalist Baker, Humans of New York, Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner—you get the picture. You’ll notice I did some horizontal and some vertical, just to mix things up a bit.
I also had quite a few National Geographics and New Yorkers that worked really well, so I added those to supplement for my lack of books. I recommend including magazines if you have them though because it adds some visual interest. On the bottom shelf I added some journals I’ve had a while as well. One of them I made myself for an art class in college and the others were gifted to me. I’ve always really loved them, but didn’t have a way to display them, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity.
I’ve fallen in love with plants in the past year. I wanted to start with really simple, non-killable plants though, so the plants you see on my book shelf are either fake or dried.
The succulent garden in the white pot is a little something that I made myself. I got everything at hobby lobby for like $25. I probably could have bought one for a little more money, but for some reason I had a strong desire to make one myself, and to play it safe, I just decided to make it a fake one.
The mason jar on the bottom shelf has one of my favorite home décor items – dried eucalyptus. I love buying the bundles from Trader Joe’s and then putting it in vases all around the house. After a week or so and they’re dried out, I just empty the water out and keep using the dried eucalyptus. It looks just as pretty and retains its scent for quite a while too.