The Art of Decorating A Bookcase


Last Updated on April 27, 2023 by SierraLivingConcepts

Bookcase and decoration go hand-in-hand. Whether you’re looking to accentuate an empty wall or are simply searching for a place to feature your extensive book/décor collection, a solid wood bookcase is a perfect way to do so. However, the art of bookshelf decor requires a bit of finesse, and if you’re searching for some great ways to ornament yours, then further we’ve compiled a few suggestions for you. No matter what kind of a bookshelf you’ve got – be it rustic, reclaimed wood, or solid wood – here’s your guide on exactly how you can translate accessorizing into bookshelf compartments:

  1. What to display

The first order of business is always what you want to display on the shelves. When you know your trinkets/ornaments/accessories, you’ll automatically start getting a hang of what to do, how to pair different baubles, etc. If you’re floundering, here are a few recommendations for you:

  • Accent pieces:  Accent pieces – such as bowls, tall accessories, metal accessories, miniature artwork, etc. – that are used to contrast the theme of your interior design are a great way to decorate your bookshelves. They’re trendy, attractive, and able to add a dynamic quality to your bookshelf design.
  • Books: Of course, the main accessory on a bookcase has to be the books. However, you don’t have to actually load the entire thing up with it. Just a few color-coordinated spines with beautiful bookends are exactly what you need to spice things up sometimes.
  • Small trinkets: Small accessories and trinkets that have no functional purpose are also welcome addition to a solid wood bookcase. They help add visual versatility to the whole setting and look beautiful to boot.
  • Photo frames: Memories – both old and new – framed in gilt edges and beautiful filigrees are another thing that you can decorate your bookshelf with. If you’re not into personalizing the set-up, then you can even feature framed artwork.
  • Baskets: You can also place wicker baskets on your solid wood bookcase. They’re available in many sizes and can hold a number of small essentials that you want to keep within your reach. Alternatively, you can also go for decorative boxes.

2. The basic rules of arrangement

So, now that you know what kind of accessories you can use, here are a few simple rules that you must remember while decorating:

  • Avoid clutter: Many people get a little too excited with all the decorating and end up cluttering the shelves of their bookcases with too many ornaments. You have to understand that this is not the best way. You have to keep an adequate separation between all the things so that they come off as unique and individualistic.

(Pro tip: Use the heaviest of your accessories, such as boxes and baskets on the lowest shelves.)

Source- assirer.inf


Accentuate your books: You don’t actually have to stack all of your books in a neat vertical row along the shelves of your solid wood bookcase. In fact, you can get creative with this endeavor and let your imagination run free. Here are a few suggestions:

  • You can put an object of interest on top of a pile containing maybe 3 or 4 books. This small ornament could be a paperweight or just a simple decorative ornament.
  • You can add a small bit of greenery on your bookcases so that they’ll have a natural focal point. Tiny indoor planters and succulents are a great example.
  • You can use various ornaments as creative bookends to a small pile of your favorite books. They could be a tall vase, a geometric-shaped bauble, or something else entirely.
  • You can also compose your book collection by layering them in vertical and horizontal formats along the shelf.

(Pro tip: Cluster your accessories in groups of three for the best effect)


The theory of triangles: When you’ve got a tall bookcase with a number of shelves, it’s best to emulate the ‘theory of triangles.’ It’s not an exact science and most of the time you’ve got to use your instincts to get a balanced aesthetic, but here’s a loose-thumb rule that you can follow:

  • The décor in the top two shelves must be arranged in the form of an equilateral triangle.
  • The middle part can be accessorized in the form of an isosceles triangle.
  • The last one or two shelves must again be arranged in an equilateral triangle arrangement.

Using this formula can ensure a nice visual symmetry.

(Pro tip: Don’t place objects of the same height beside each other.)


For those in-built shelves: In-built solid wood bookcases are largely full-sized and take up entire walls. Therefore, the décor that you feature in those must ensure that the design of each shelf is highlighted to the fullest. You can go for multicolored book piles with unique bookends. Alternatively, you can go for a single accent accessory inside each shelf to accentuate its frame.

(Pro tip: When creating clusters of 3, choose something tall, something horizontal, and an object to bridge the gap.)


For the waist-length shelves: Not all bookcases are tall or overwhelming. Some are mid-length – usually reaching up to the waist. You can decorate them by featuring a nice triangular arrangement that may consist of feature artwork, photo frames, candelabras, vases, and other accessories on the top. 

If the bottom has open shelves, then you can use the ‘theory of triangles.’ If it has closed cabinet doors and drawers, then you simply don’t have to worry about anything else.


3. Considering different typologies


Since there are so many typologies of bookcases, you have to ensure that your décor enhances all of them. Here are a few suggestions according to some popular solid wood bookcase designs:

  • Reclaimed wood bookcase: Since reclaimed wood has a naturally distressed finish – and is even coated with distressed paint – you can use contrasting textures to make the most of it. Metal and vintage accessories are great options.
Eunola Reclaimed Wood Furniture 4 Open Shelf Standard Bookcase
Eunola Reclaimed Wood Furniture 4 Open Shelf Standard Bookcase
  • Leaning/ladder bookcase: The point of a ladder bookcase is to emphasize all of its different tiers. Therefore, you must either use very slender vertical ornaments or just stick to low-height horizontal décor.
Ignacio 5 Open Shelf Solid Wood Leaning Ladder Bookcase
Ignacio 5 Open Shelf Solid Wood Leaning Ladder Bookcase
  • Cube bookcase: All the open shelves of a cube bookcase can either have clusters of 3 in each compartment or a single statement piece. You can keep everything you want to keep out of sight in the closed compartments.
Proctorville Rustic Wood Stair Step Cube Bookcase With Doors & Drawers
Proctorville Rustic Wood Stair Step Cube Bookcase With Doors & Drawers
  • Bookcase with drawer: Most bookcases have either one or two drawers for keeping small essentials in handy reach. The top half is usually dedicated to open shelves, so you can use the mainstream décor suggestions with that and place the essentials you want to keep safe within the drawers.
Clarksburg 7 Open Shelf Reclaimed Wood Tall Narrow Bookcase w Drawers
Clarksburg 7 Open Shelf Reclaimed Wood Tall Narrow Bookcase w Drawers
  • Bookcase with cabinets: There are two types of bookcases with cabinets – one with glass-paned doors and the other with solid wood doors. You can showcase accessories within the former and store them systematically within the latter.
Rainbow Tiles 2 Open Shelf Arched Bookcase With Doors Cabinet
Rainbow Tiles 2 Open Shelf Arched Bookcase With Doors Cabinet

Decorating your solid wood bookcase requires a lot of careful thought. It’s more than putting together a bunch of accessories. We hope that these tips on how to decorate your bookshelf can help you get the best décor possibilities and helps you reinvent your home!



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here