While the traditional purpose of bookshelves is to store your favourite books and present them to guests, they can also be utilised to add extra colour and vibrancy to your home.
Whether it’s down to not being a heavy reader or simply wanting to prioritise decoration over storage, you may not even want to include books on your bookshelf. In this guide, we look at how you can decorate your bookshelves and alternative items you can display on them to accentuate your home.
Our new Parisian bookcase
How to decorate a bookcase in a living room
A bookcase is one of several primary pieces of furniture in any living room. However, it’s unlikely to have the desired visual effect if it’s bland and uninteresting, or conversely if it’s overpowering. To avoid these outcomes, there are a few considerations you can bear in mind when decorating your bookcase, such as:
Harmony between ornaments
The intention of putting ornaments on your bookcase is to complement this piece of furniture and the rest of the room. It can be a challenge to find objects that share a similar colour or style while all being unique, but as long as you select items that stay within the same theme, you should be able to make it work.
Contrast in moderation
Although consistency through similar colours and styles can help you to create a chic look when decorating a bookcase, you may want to consider putting different objects in for contrast. This could be something as simple as introducing a circular shape on a shelf full of square ornaments, or even wallpapering a section of the shelf a different colour to your ornaments to make them stand out.
Finding appropriate objects to fill the gaps on your bookshelf is one thing, but it’s also important to put some thought into how you display them. One thing to bear in mind is to never make your ornament placement one dimensional, as it will end up looking more like a means to an end for storage than an impressive visual display.
When arranging your ornaments, put larger objects at the back and smaller items at the front. If you intend to include a lot of ornaments on your bookcase, you could place some of them at different angles so they face different parts of the room.
Alter the style of your bookcase
If you’ve done all you can in terms of decorating your bookcase and still feel like it somehow doesn’t suit your living room, it could be that your bookcase requires a facelift. Changing the shape of your bookcase might not be possible, but you could consider painting it a different colour so it flows better with the other items of furniture in your living room. Alternatively, see our guide on how to position your bookcase in your living room for some more harmonic interior inspiration.
close up of wooden rack with books in living room
What to put on a bookshelf
When picking out ornaments, you might look out for specific items that work well together based on colour, style, shape or type, or it might simply be a case of getting what you like the look of at the time and improvising when it comes to finding the right place for it.
Below, we look at some of the objects in your living room that you could use to decorate your bookcase:
Obviously, bookcases are built to house several shelves of books, but you can enhance the look of these furnishings by changing how the books are displayed. For example, you could mix up the sizes to make a varied pattern across the shelves, contrasting colours and textures to make it interesting to look at.
When spaced out correctly and used sparingly, picture frames can add colour and personalisation to a bookcase. Larger picture frames are suitable for filling big spaces and if there’s a gap between books and the edge of the shelf, you could use smaller picture frames to make the shelf look more populated.
Boxes and baskets
Both boxes and baskets are frequently used for decorating a home, as they can look good while also storing small bits and pieces that could otherwise be easily misplaced. They’re also useful for filling up large gaps on shelves and stacking on top of each other.
Pieces of art - whether it’s a picture small enough to fit on a shelf or a visually pleasing ornament - are the perfect way of adding an element of culture to your living room. Depending on the shape of the piece, you could place it in front of a book, lean it against the end of the shelf or use a few pieces across separate shelves to show balance and bring the composition together.
Can you put a lamp on a bookshelf?
A lamp can make a great addition to a bookshelf. By adding one of these lighting accessories, you’re able to include an aesthetically pleasing ornament while also illuminating your bookshelf to make it stand out. The only issue that may become a problem is wiring, as it could ruin the sleek appearance to see a single wire dangling off the side of one of the shelves.
However, you could consider drilling a small hole in the side of the bookcase, running the wire through it and plugging it in to a nearby socket, or you could use battery-powered LED lights instead.
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