Bookshelves are a great way to add some functionality and personality into a relatively small amount of square footage in your home. In addition to displaying your book collection, bookshelves can be a great place to display your favorite collectibles or to store other items you want to keep handy. Regardless of how you use them, arranging your bookshelves to look interesting and organized takes a little know-how. Here are a few ideas to help you use your bookshelves to display and store your favorite items:
1. Mix things up.
Have some of your books vertical, and some in a horizontal stack. This simple trick can add a professional and interesting touch to your display. It also allows stacks of books to act as bookends for one another and gives a few flat spots for a few special accessories.
2. Introduce items other than books!
Try setting off a stack of books with a decorative box, a porcelain figurine or attractive plate. Any of these things, as well as candles, collectibles, woven baskets, framed photos, or even a plant or two, will give your shelves some nice contrasts in shape and texture. Plus, it will create both balance and visual interest at once.
A neat and beautiful way to store items such as CDs, DVDs, or toys is to fill the bottom shelves with identical square baskets. The baskets will keep your shelves looking clean and organized, but your things are still very easy to access. Woven wicker or rattan baskets will also lend an earthy and natural texture to your room.
It’s certainly OK if you want mostly books on your shelves – just create small resting places for the eye every once in a while. Make a few short horizontal stacks of books and place a pretty candle, small vase or a frame on top of the stack. This will help break up the sea of books and give the eye a place to rest. Speaking of that…
3. Leave some room on each shelf
At least 10% of space per shelf is recommended. Small amounts of space give the eye room to breathe, and allow the beauty of your books and collectibles to shine. If you have too many books or display objects, rotate them out every season to get a fresh look, or buy another bookcase!
4. Create a pattern with your items.
Allow your display items to form a sort of zig-zag down the shelves. In other words, don’t allow the items to line up from shelf to shelf.
Here’s how it works: Tracing the letter “Z,” place a large accessory at the upper far left position of the top shelf. Then place another large object on the opposite, or far right position on the next lower shelf. Beneath that shelf, place a dense object or stack of horizontal books in the far left position, until you have zigzagged your way down the shelves with large items. Reverse the zigzag pattern on any adjoining sets of shelves. Once you have the decorative items in place, fill in the Z-shape you have established with alternating stacks of visually dense accessories or stacks of horizontal and vertical books. This allows the display items to lead the eye in a pleasing manner, and not look stiff.
5. Add some lighting.
Whenever possible, add some lighting to illuminate and add drama to your bookshelves. If you have the space, a small lamp might be the perfect combination of function and beauty for your shelves. If not, don’t worry – lighting has come a long way in the last few years, and there are several cordless, battery-operated lighting fixtures that you can attach to the outside frame of the bookshelf or place directly underneath the shelves. Either way, it’s a great way to highlight some of your favorite things.
6. Don’t be afraid to move things!
You don’t have to keep the arrangement the same way for the rest of your life, so play with it. Add new objects, take away some old ones, use some seasonal pieces, and so on. Keep your bookshelves (and your home) looking fresh and different just by changing a few items at a time.