Bookshelves are often the focal point of a room — adding personality and style to everything from the living room to the nursery. Not only do bookcases allow you to proudly show off your collection, but they also act as a place to display personal gifts, family photos and your favorite decor.
Styling a bookcase requires an eye for balance, color and design, and these 37 bookshelf ideas make the process look easy. Explore different ways to spruce up old wooden bookshelves, style built-in shelves and add DIY touches like bookends and bookmarks. Even reimagine a small space in your home by creating a cozy reading nook with bookshelves and a place to unwind. No matter the project you’re looking to tackle, these creative bookshelf ideas will add playful personality to your home.
1. Keep it Personal
Personalized decor — such as photo collages and unique frames — add warmth and personality to your bookshelves throughout the house. Always keep family photos at or below eye level so you and your guests see them on a daily basis.
2. Curate Your Decor
Bookshelves are an opportunity to curate artistic ways to display your favorite items from throughout the home. Stick to similar textures when possible, such as the way this bookshelf uses reoccurring wooden objects in each area.
3. Floating Office Shelves
Line an open wall with floating shelves to both add depth and color to a room. These bookshelves are particularly helpful in an office, freeing up space desk space for everything you need to stay organized.
4. Styling Cubed Shelves
These common bookshelves are easy to purchase and customize with your own style. Add white cubed bookshelves to a neutral-toned room and add bursts of color in your book selection and removable cubed drawers.
5. Rainbow Book Tree
Books trees weave layers of books up a wall and act as a great focal point and practical display. Group your books together by color beginning with white covers on the bottom and then moving through the rainbow on your way up.
6. Floral Wallpaper
Make a plain bookshelf stand out by lining the back with striking designer wallpaper. This project uses pale florals with a contrasting, dark background to stand out. Secure with wallpaper paste and let dry before returning the shelving.
7. Rustic Charm
If you’re working with a unique, industrial-style or rustic bookcase, match the decor and book choice to the shelves itself. Add pops of color throughout photographs and other personalized home decor items.
8. Reading Nook Book Loft
Incorporate places for books and games in this over-the-bed, treehouse-inspired kids loft. Use bungee cords to set aside natural spaces in the frame of the structure for holding all their favorite reading.
9. Cozy Wooden Crate Shelves
By securing unpainted wooden crates in a set of six, this nursery-friendly bookshelf displays soft and simple items like a rustic clock, an elephant piggy bank and wooden star. Secure to the wall for extra stability.
10. Curtain Clean Up
Helpful in a small space when you need an extra bit of storage, add a canvas curtain to the bottom shelves of a wooden bookcase. No need to get a curtain rod — simply connect a wire from one side to the other and hand a hemmed piece of fabric across the front.
11. Bedeck with Birds
Ceramic bird decor fits perfectly into a bookshelf design, sitting on top of a pile of books or as bookends. Try to stick to the same color scheme, mixing teal and white birds for example, for a cleaner look.
12. Mod Wooden Kids Shelves
These modern wooden kids shelves are low to the ground for accessibility and stylish for a modern room design. Keep the wooden shelves plain and unpainted for a natural look.
13. Focus on the Details
Ashley from The Gold Hive recommends removing dust jackets to keep your books looking a bit more organized on the shelves. She also plays with texture, height and color balance when choosing where to place accent pieces.
14. Cozy Reading Nooks
If you have a unique space in your home for cozying up with a book, add some twinkle lights, fun wall decor, pillow and bookshelves. By keeping the shelves on the wall, you can free up space for reading and resting.
15. Faux Hanging Shelves
Give a set of children’s bedroom shelves a playful look by running pink twine between each level. Though the shelves are secured to the walls on their own, the string gives the appearance that each is floating on its own. Add pink accents throughout the shelf to match the twine.
16. Dollhouse Makeover
Looking to upcycle an old bookcase for a children’s room? Shorter bookcases make great dollhouses by adding a coat of paint, shelf separators and a slanted roof.
17. Framable Quotes and Poetry
When you have a favorite poem, holiday passage or quote, enlarge a framed display at the top of a decorative bookshelf. Surround with farmhouse-style book bundles by removing the covers from old books from a thrift store and wrapping in twine.
18. Industrial-Chic Shelving
Highlight unique furniture design with simple, yet eye-catching bookshelf decor. Antlers, a globe and this unique white vase keep the shelf looking clean and balanced, leaving space to display the shelf as well.
19. Building a Permanent Reading Nook
Follow these step-by-step instructions for creating a custom bookshelf and reading nook in your home. Construct the shelves up to the ceiling and around a window seat to reinvent one side of your room.
20. Adding Patterned Curtains
Completely transform the look and purpose of an old bookcase by adding color and accessories in unique ways. Paint a geometric pattern along the top of the case and hang floor-length curtains across the front. This project is a great solution for creating extra storage in the kitchen or even your kid’s room.
21. Accent with Gold
Gold home decor keeps your color palette neutral while adding shimmer to a room. If your bookshelves feature a metallic hue, incorporate the same color into your decor items to balance the look.
22. Customized Bookshelf Liner
Update an old bookshelf in your home with only four materials: printer paper, sharpies, pencils and access to a copy machine. Draw your desired design, expand on your copy machine and attach to the back of your bookshelf for a modern look.
23. Gold-Speckled Cement Bookends
Mix up some masonry cement found at your local hardware store and set in sphere cake pans lined in vegetable oil for easy removal. Once dry, paint the bookends with bold color and add an abstract gold pattern for extra shine.
24. Quote Bookends
Mold four large quotation marks with the use of plaster and this DIY mold from poster board. Once dry, attach the quote marks to heavy-duty plywood with epoxy or gorilla glue. Work your DIY bookends into a rainbow-themed case.
25. Salvaged Shelves
Add your own personality to a set of salvaged wooden shelves by lining the back with patterned contact or scrapbook paper and painting the frame to match the hue. If you stick with the travel theme from the blog post, add interesting items and photos from your past trips.
26. Update Your Shelves
Even the oldest shelves can look new again with a custom makeover. Explore a few ideas for updating an old metal or wooden shelf by using wrapping paper backing, spraying with mineral or metallic paint and adding rustic elements like bookends and monogrammed letters.
27. Bookshelf Candlesticks
Top off a shorter bookcase with natural wood or antique candlesticks. By keeping the top of your case clean and empty, the candlesticks are more likely to stand out and mesh with the rustic look of books below.
28. Vintage Botanical Displays
A lovely decor idea for the holidays, line your shelves with framed or unframed drawings of flowers, branches and other winter botanicals. This design works nicely up against a plain wall background, highlighted by rustic decor and DIY displays.
29. Pom Pom Bookmarks
Add a collection of DIY bookmarks to the books of your shelves, fun features like tassels and pom poms add color and texture to the overall design. Attach yarn to each pom, link it around a paper clip and hold your page.
30. Accessorize with Meaning
A good rule of thumb throughout your room, keep your bookshelf decor purposeful and specific. Choose items you’ll look forward to seeing every day including framed photos and memorabilia.
31. Grouping Books
When you have a lot of books in your home, keep your shelves looking clean and organized by alternating how you stack them. Alternate between vertical and horizontal piles for a les cluttered appearance.
32. Balancing Your Build-In Shelves
Often the focal point of a room, built-in shelves add character to a home’s architecture. This makes them a great place to display your favorite decor. To keep things clean and simple, stick with balancing only a few items opposed to many clustered together.
33. White Entertainment Cabinets
When cabinets frame the focal point of the room, such as a television, take extra care to keep the decor balanced and clean. White cabinets give the room a fresh look, especially when styling the shelves with earth-toned decor and books.
34. Keep it Playful
Decorating the kid’s room with imaginative bookshelves? Check out this Handmade Charlotte blog post with unique ways to reflect the books themselves. Vary books direction, creatively display toys and include fun bookmarks for pops of color.
35. Colorful Crate Bookcase
Transform old wooden crates into a colorful, asymmetrical bookshelf. Paint a collection of six milk crates with vibrant colors and secure with wood screws in an off-center, modular design.
36. Soft Pastel Bookshelf
When the bookshelf structure itself sticks to a color scheme, complement the tones within your books and decorations. Pale neutral colors and simple metallics like silver and gold work well within this color scheme.
37. Rent-Friendly Changes
As a renter, you’re less likely to be able to add things like paint and wallpaper to built-in shelves. Temporary wallpaper, however, makes a great alternative to adding your own personality to the back of a bookcase.
In the end, your bookshelf style should reflect your own home and style. Mix and match decor tips to make it work for your space, adding as many personalized home accent items as you can. Whether you’re re-arranging a bookcase or building one from scratch, these bookshelf styling tips can help your reimagine any room in your house.