How to Organise Your Bookcase for a Designer Look

Bookcases are one of the most straightforward items in the home to upgrade. If you want to create a designer look in your home, rearranging your bookcase is a great place to start. With a few tweaks and shuffles, you can upgrade your style in no time. Here’s how. 

Conceal Clutter

organise your bookcase conceal clutter

Collect loose papers, magazines, or smaller items and put them into boxes and magazine holders. For a clean, organised look, choose containers that match. For example, you could purchase several magazine holders and storage boxes that match and place them on several different shelves. You could also use a few matching, rectangular wicker baskets. 

Magazine holders, boxes and baskets look much better than having loose papers and small items stashed among your books. It also gives you an excellent opportunity to play with blocks of colour. Light containers can help you create an airy look on an otherwise densely packed shelf. 

Symmetry Is Pleasing to the Eye

organise your bookcase symmetry

Ask any surfer, and they’ll tell you balance is critical. Balance your shelving with the idea of symmetry. Whatever you do on one side of the shelf, mirror it on the other. If you have large, heavy books on the bottom right of the rack, put another cluster of large, heavy books on the bottom left. 

This design principle works for the decor on your shelves too. A slender glass vase can be mirrored with a slim figurine of the same height.The mirroring doesn’t have to be exact. It shouldn’t look forced. Play with it to find out what works well.

Leave Open Space

organise your bookcase space

For a sophisticated look, leave space on each shelf. Pair clusters of books with decor on each shelf, leaving lots of space so that the back of the shelf is visible. Your guests will be asking who your decorator is. And of course, be ready with a business card when you say it was all you!

Artistic Touches Make It Attractive

The right framed artwork can make your bookcase come alive. Place framed photos, paintings and prints of varying sizes among your books. You can even set frames on top of a stack of books or hang the frame from the shelf. 

All of the artwork you choose should be visually unified in some way so that it doesn’t look random. You can unite artwork by paying attention to the colours in the pictures, or by using similar styles of frames. 

Stick to Your Colour Palette

bookcase colour palette

For an authentic designer look, you need to know your colour palette. Place your books on the shelf, leaving plenty of breathing room between clusters. Next, step back and check in with your colour palette. What is missing? 

Add decorative items that bring out the colours you are working with. For example, if your colour palette is blue, tan, and white, add in a blue flower vase, and large, blocky white bookends. You could also add in a collection of blue stained-glass pieces, or a blue sculpture or too.

If you have any photos with blue, tan and white elements - you guessed it - place those on a shelf as well. Weave the exact colours of your palette in among the books with decorations.  The result is a cohesive, elegant bookcase. 

Arrange the Books Deliberately

organise your bookshelf arranging books

Arrange the books on your shelf in an intentional way. Each book should look like it belongs. When the eye sees the shelf as a whole, there must be a pattern. 

You could create this pattern with colour groupings. Think about pairing all of your warm books on one shelf, and cool colours on another. You can also make a visually pleasing pattern by stacking some books horizontally, and others vertically.

Since every book should look like it belongs, you’ll need to find a home for the stragglers.  A worn paperback or floppy atlas needs to find a home that doesn't make your shelf look rag-tag. Tuck them in one of your “clutter concealers”, or find a different shelf that they can live on.

Leave a Whole Shelf Open

bookcase open shelf

Professional interior decorators think outside the box. Step into a designer’s shoes by looking at your bookcase in a whole new way. What if you left one shelf completely blank, and placed a bowl of fruit on it? Or a mirror? This kind of thinking can bring you into the big leagues. Despite the name, a bookcase can hold a lot more than books. 

What’s at Eye Level?

Your shelves will say a lot about you, so make sure you are putting the right info out there. If your bookcase is in a public space in your home, put the right books at eye level. Fill these shelves with books about the hobbies, people, and passions that you want to talk about over dinner. 

Dress It Up with Details

Ibookshelf details

A few little details can go a long way in giving your case style. In addition to books and decor think about adding a little detail or two to your case. A small votive candle or a single dried flower might be just the thing. 

You could also display a collection. This looks especially chic if the collection is placed on a shelf of its own. Make sure that it doesn’t get lost in a sea of larger items. Give the little details room to breathe. 

Get Creative with Your Bookends

The bookends that you choose can add a charming detail. There are lots of fun DIY projects on Pinterest that can help you turn recycled goods into bookends. Just remember to stick with your colour palette as you get creative. 

Time to Get Started

For a quick and easy upgrade to your space, organise the bookcase like a pro. Try using nice looking containers to make clutter disappear, and add in decorative touches here and there. 

Group books in ways that are pleasing to the eye. Horizontal stacks? Perfect. Add a little-potted plant on top that goes with your colour palette. Get ready to help your friends rearrange their bookcases, because they will probably be asking for your advice.