The Most Creative Ways To Decorate A Bookshelf

There is no denying that library magic is a real thing. Regardless of if you're a big reader or not, sitting in a room surrounded by books creates a sense of peace and calm. Even if you do not have the space for a full library in your home, having just one bookshelf adds some depth and dimension to a room. A bookcase also provides you with more space for storage and opens up the door to displaying a variety of accessories and memorabilia.

While books are obviously one of the most common and important items to have on a bookshelf, there are several other ways to spruce up your shelves and add some eye-catching details. From family photos to vibrant greenery, the possibilities are endless! That being said, here is House Digest's guide on how to decorate your bookshelf and take your living room or office to the next level.

Add small vases or sculptures for an elegant look

Per The Zebra, every kind of art, from sculptures to paintings, has been shown to improve mental health and decrease stress levels. Though massive vases or sculptures probably won't fit on a bookcase shelf, smaller pieces can really enhance the sophistication and style of a space. You can use these artsy items to break up your rows of books and add some dimension to the case. If you choose to use vases, you can fill them with fresh or dried flowers for extra detail.

If you're not looking to spend a hefty amount of money on a priceless piece, there are plenty of simple yet modern sculptures to choose from. For something abstract and artistic, take a look at this cement face statue. This wooden arch sculpture from West Elm is more minimalistic, making it a great option for those who already have a busy bookshelf. You can also use them as bookends or buy a few to scatter across the shelves.

Color-coordinate your books

There is perhaps nothing as satisfying as a color-coordinated bookshelf ... or really, a color-coordinated anything. Organizing things based on color, whether that be your bookshelf or your closet, results in a very cohesive and clean display. According to Oprah Daily, a color-coordinated bookshelf makes a statement and catches the eye as soon as you walk into the room. It is a unique way to create a focal point and nearly impossible to ignore.

When it comes to starting your color coordination journey, there are a few different routes you can take. For a basic, rainbow-inspired bookshelf, start with red and other warm colors before moving on to cooler colors such as blue and purple. For a more modern take on a color-coordinated bookshelf, display books that have black and white or neutral covers for a monochromatic look. However, color-coordinating might not be for you if you prefer a more classic or traditional bookshelf, such as one that you would typically see in a library.

Organize your shelves with cool bookends

According to HedgeApple, bookends keep your books in place and help them to stand up straight, resulting in a clean and organized display. Though they serve a very functional purpose, they can also add a little flair and elegance to your bookshelf. From abstract bookends to realistic sculptures, these decorative pieces can be extremely subtle or make a very obvious statement depending on the look you are going for.

One thing to keep in mind when shopping for bookends is how heavy your books are. If your bookshelf is full of large books with hundreds of pages and thick covers, you will need stronger bookends to keep them upright. However, if you are mainly storing lightweight novels and standard paperbacks, any set of bookends should do. These Bronze Horse and Marble Bookends from Pottery Barn are modern and refined, making them perfect for a classy bookshelf.

Add old-school touches like a vintage typewriter

Considering that books literally hold pieces of the past within their pages, adding vintage elements to your bookshelf really enhances the magical energy surrounding them. While there are many different routes you can take to achieve this vintage style, a typewriter is a perfect fit. Since some of the most famous and renowned books in history were written on a typewriter, there is something poetic about placing one on your bookshelf as a decorative display.

Per Apartment Therapy, decorating with a typewriter transforms the entire space and adds a cool, retro feel to your display. Best of all, unlike some other vintage collector items, typewriters are easy to find and affordable. However, legitimate typewriters can be rather expensive. If you're looking to save money, consider buying a faux vintage typewriter such as this one from Apollo Box. You can also add a pop of color with this mint typewriter. It is on the smaller side, making it easy to fit on a slender or more compact shelf.

Lean paintings and other artwork on the back of your shelves

Instead of hanging your paintings or artwork, consider leaning them against the wall on your bookshelf. Though extremely large pieces of art won't be able to fit on your bookshelf, smaller pieces enhance the artistry and appearance of the shelves. According to The Zebra, having art in the home has been shown to improve mental health and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Since reading books is known to have similar effects, it makes sense to blend these two distinct art forms in one cohesive setting.

Even if you prefer abstract art, go for something more classic and vintage on the bookshelf. This Florida Wall Art from Anthropologie is timeless without being outdated, and it is the perfect size for a taller bookshelf. This painting is also available in three different frame styles, ensuring that you can choose the right one for your home. This Porto Wall Art is another option with more versatile coloring, making it easier to pair with accents and decor.

Use plants throughout the bookcase

From succulents to small potted plants, scattering plants across your bookshelf is an easy way to add a refreshing touch. According to Miss Pot Plant, using your bookshelf as the foundation for plants allows you to brighten up the room without adding clutter or taking up more floor space. The contrast of old books with new and live plants is very fitting and unique, and the two items work well together.

Another eye-catching way to decorate with houseplants is to place devil's ivy or string of pearls on the shelves. These vine-like plants grow long and hang, creating a bohemian style that will create an earthy and inviting atmosphere. If you prefer fake plants that don't require attention or care, try something like this Faux Baker Fern from West Elm. This Potted Faux Eucalyptus plant is another great option and looks a bit more realistic thanks to the detailed coloring.

Spruce things up with a decorative bowl

Decorative bowls never go out of style. Whether you want to fill the bowl with ornaments or you simply want to display it alone, decorative bowls are simple yet elegant. According to Kinwoven, these pieces are an essential ingredient for bookshelf styling. For those seeking a piece that is both unique and artsy, the Onyx Raw Edge bowl from CB2 catches the eye and works as a stand-alone statement. That being said, if you prefer something more basic, this brown marble bowl keeps things simple so you can fill it with some intricate items.

When it comes to filling your bowl, you can choose anything from crystals to ornaments. However, before making your decision, take a closer look at the rest of your living room and try to choose something that will complement the rest of the vibe. Since greenery manages to match most interiors, these moss sphere balls are an earthy yet elegant option.

Adorn your bookshelf with framed family photos

Showcase your memories and loved ones by adorning your bookshelf with family photos. According to Studio3 Framing, there are several different ways to arrange framed photos on your bookcase. From standing them up to leaning them on the back of the shelf, you can organize frames in a variety of styles. You can also install a hook on your bookshelf and hang your photos on the front, creating a unique focal point in your room.

While choosing the actual photos that you want to display is important, choosing the proper frames is another key component to styling your bookshelf. Before making any purchases, take note of the colors and metals used throughout your space. For example, if you have a lot of gold accents and hardware, don't fill your bookshelf with silver frames. The Hagen Picture Frame is great for those who want to keep things simple and keep the focus on the pictures themselves rather than the frames.

Organize your important documents and papers in stylish boxes

If your bookshelf is in your home office, chances are that it serves a functional purpose in addition to a fashionable one. In order to stay as organized and neat as possible, place all of your important papers or work-related documents in these Marie Kondo Photo Boxes for a clean and sleek display. According to Better Homes and Gardens, storage boxes are a smart way to keep clutter out of sight. In addition to keeping your space de-cluttered and neat, these neutral boxes are easy to design around and fill the perfect amount of space.

However, if you don't like the boxy look, these leather storage baskets from West Elm are chic, contemporary, and simple. The leather material is both durable and stylish, and the open design makes it easy to grab files and papers when necessary. That being said, if you go with a storage setup that doesn't have a lid, be sure to keep them higher up on the shelf. This way, guests and visitors won't be able to see the paper inside the organizers.

Display a quirky collection

Whether you collect toy cars, crystals, or coins, putting your treasures on display adds a personal touch to your bookshelf. According to Real Homes, arranging and styling is the most important part of displaying a collection, no matter what it is. One of the reasons that a bookshelf should be at the top of your list when it comes to showing off your personal items is because they can easily be admired and kept in plain sight.

As fun and personable as it is to show off your collectibles, it can easily appear cluttered or messy if done without care. In order to avoid this, be sure to concentrate your treasures on just one or two shelves, rather than scattering them around randomly (via Elle Decor). Also, the rest of your bookshelf should be kept simple and sleek to highlight the collection and avoid overshadowing it with other kinds of decor.

Showcase fresh florals in a large vase

In addition to being affordable and eco-friendly, decorating with florals never goes out of style. That being said, the vase that you choose to put them in speaks volumes. While sitting down with The Spruce, floral expert Jeremy Yamaguchi said, "Flowers and their vessels can be a way to express individuality and your own unique style, so choose placements and holders that speak to you." Though fitting a large vase on certain bookshelves might be difficult, this is a fool-proof addition if you have an open and deep space.

If you have multiple vases that are on the heavier side, you can even try using them as bookends to make the flowers both functional and fashionable (via Miss Pot Plant). However, staggering your vases or using one as a main focal point on your bookshelf is just as appealing. This white ceramic vase from Afloral is modern yet timeless, and the round shape creates a nice contrast with the rectangular shelves of a bookcase.

Use peel-and-stick wallpaper on the back of your shelves for a pop of color

Wallpaper is a great way to add some color and personality to your home. According to Decor Hint, revamping your bookshelf is easy and affordable, and only requires that you buy some peel-and-stick wallpaper. Rather than having to go through the trouble of plaster or painting, peel-and-stick wallpaper is as easy as one, two, three. In fact, the hardest part of the process will be choosing your pattern or color.

Though there are several brands to choose from, Spoonflower has some of the most stunning and eye-catching options. If you want to add some color and intricate detailing to the back of your bookcase, go for something like the Blush King Protea Art Deco wallpaper from Spoonflower. For something more contemporary and geometric, the Floral Burst Gold on White wallpaper is a great option. Another good resource for peel-and-stick wallpaper is West Elm. They have a refined and stylish selection.

Hang a mirror

If you want to add some layers to your bookshelf, try hanging a mirror in front of it. Per the DIY Playbook, hanging a mirror on your bookcase can be done without damaging the case itself or having to drill or nail any holes into it. In fact, all that is needed is a wire and stocking hook. Simply wrap the wire around the stocking hook and then secure it to the bookcase or shelf. While you can't use a mirror that is extremely heavy, this tactic works great for smaller, lighter mirrors.

However, if you are ok with drilling a hole, you have more options for the mirror that you can display. For something funky and fun, take a look at these Brass Framed Organic Shaped Mirrors from West Elm. Since they come in a set of three, they provide the perfect opportunity to stagger them across a large bookshelf.

Create a worldly scene with a vintage globe

There is something incredibly stylish and sophisticated about a vintage globe. Whether your bookcase is in your office or your living room, placing a globe on it adds a studious touch that is both unique and timeless. According to House Beautiful, mini globes (such as these from World Market) are perfect for bookcases that don't have very deep shelves or can't fit a full-sized globe. They are available in both white and blush, giving you some range when it comes to decorating and pairing them with other items and decor.

However, if you prefer a larger, more traditional globe, check out this White Marble Globe from CB2. The marble stand features a cool shape, putting a contemporary twist on a classic accessory. The same globe is also available in black, giving it a much cleaner and sleeker look. The contrast between the black foundation and bronze map is equally stunning and unique.