Tip No. 1: Mix it up: Mix books with other objects and don’t be afraid to think outside the box: frames (you can frame things other than photos!), vases (which can hold things other than flowers), candles, shadow boxes, pretty dishes, vintage jam jars, a lovely lamp, a galvanized bucket full of seasonal flowers, etc.
I included bits and pieces of found beach glass on our shelves, a collection of different sizes of bud vases (a favorite of mine), a framed invitation from our wedding, a pretty bottle of sea salt that previously sat on my kitchen counter, three aqua mixing bowls that were also kitchen items, etc.
Tip No. 2: Choose a variety of books that reflect the varied interest of family members, young and old. Our shelves now hold a mix of design books (me), history and sailing books (Mr. Marvelous), and vintage Thomas the Tank Engine books (Wynn).
Tip No. 3: Think vertically and horizontally. Stack some books vertically and stack others horizontally. Vertical books welcome other objects to serve as bookends, while horizontal stacks of books become platforms where smaller objects can be better noticed.
Tip 3: Have a unifying color scheme but add some contrast for visual interest. For example, I used aqua and blue items (book jackets, bowls, hydrangeas, an old blue canning jar, beach glass) on each of the five shelves I decorated. This draws the eye easily from one shelf to the next. But to add a punch of color, I used pops of mustard yellow.
Tip 4: Add Texture. For example, my shelves now have a combination of linen photo mats, a mother of pearl picture frame, rocks from the beach, flowers and beach grass, a picture on canvas, etc.
Tip 5: Add a mirror or two. Nothing reflects light back into a room like a mirror. You can buy small sized mirrors in pretty shapes at places like Target or Pottery Barn or even your local Goodwill store.
Tip 6: Layer. Notice in the photo below, I have layered two mirrors and a framed photo, which are in turn stacked on top of a set of old children’s books
Tip 7: Mix your Metals. If you include framed objects, use a combination of gold and silver tones. It’s eclectic and wonderful, I promise. If your collection seems to be missing something, add a pop of gold and you will have so much more dimension.
Tip 9: Add a touch of Whimsy. I set a child size vintage folding chair next to our bottom shelf. The mustard yellow is just fun and quirky. I found it at a local antique shop for about $10. Other ideas to consider: baby booties, a birdcage, an old fashioned dinner bell, maybe a small gumball machine or vintage candy jars . . . something fun that would make for a conversation starter. I found a very, very old nail when tearing out some drop ceiling which we believe was likely original to our 1880s cottage-I plan to mount it in a shadow box with the name of the original owner (builder) and date the cottage was built.
Tip 10: Don’t forget the back of your bookcase. The back of my bookcase (which is actually the living room wall) is white planks, which I love. You might consider wallpaper, bead board, a bright paint color, or even mounted photos or book pages as wallpaper to dress up the backs of your shelves.
What do you think? What tips would you add to the list?