Styling your bookcases (Yes, it’s actually a real thing!)


(Yes, I’ve just bought myself a new drawing tablet so I can add handwriting to my photos. And yes, I’m in love!)

So, one of the  tasks that I set for myself over the school holidays was to get a TV unit.  Yes, I know that doesn’t sound very book-related but hear me out.

When I first moved into my teeny tiny flat back in November, the first thing that I bought was two big white Expedit bookcases from IKEA that I had been lusting after for a couple of years after I saw them in a friends’ apartment.  After buying them, the next thing I did was fill them choc full of my books – I had enough to fill one whole bookcase and half of the second – and as I hadn’t seen any of my books several years because I’d been living overseas, it was all very exciting.

Then, back in March, I finally cracked and bought myself a television.  Nothing too crazy, but it meant that I then needed a TV unit.  So, after much umming and ahhhing over different units (and watching my TV propped up on a chair), I ended up impulse purchasing an Expedit TV unit from IKEA on a trip to buy other things.  And, yes, I know you’re still thinking what does this have to do with books?

Well, the first thing I did with the cubby holes in my new TV unit was stuff them full of books from the half full bookcase (which is in my bedroom).  Then I stood back and looked at the full bookcase and the TV unit together in the living room and they just looked … intimidatingly full. They looked heavy and you almost couldn’t take in any of the books because they were just so jammed in there.  They were crowding me out of my tiny flat.

Then  just happened read this great post over at one of my favourite blogs at the moment Young House Love and I was inspired to learn more about styling your bookcase.  Did you even know there was such a thing?  Sounds crazy, right?  Well, after reading that I began to do some research and apparently it’s a real thing. People do it.  On purpose.

Then, I thought – perhaps I should give it a go?  This is what my living room bookcase looks like now:

I really like the stacks of books in the middle of the shelf with the artifact on top and the ones that are half vertical/half horizontal.  You’ll notice that there are no photos in two of the frames.  I’ve just put them there as placeholders.  I totally love those frames two frames but I haven’t found a photo or a particular quote that I’d like to have in each of them yet.  It’s a work in progress, but you get the idea.

And this is my TV unit:

I really like the ‘red’ bookshelf at the top (with the white candle holder/vase) and the square frame at the bottom.  I’d love to replace those coloured boxes on the thin shelf with a matching pair at some point.  As my desk doubles as my dining table, it is handy that my printer fits in there too.

If you’d like to try a bit of bookcase styling yourself, I’d suggest:

1. Read the following blog posts to learn more about it first –

Young House Love


Apartment Therapy

Better Homes and Gardens

2. Take a ‘Before’ photo.  (I totally regret missing this step!)

3. Take everything off your bookcase and give it a good dust.

4. Go around your house and collect some ‘artifacts’.  You know – knick knacks, dust collectors, ornaments, vases, photos or quotes in frames – that sort of thing.  I don’t own many of these at all, so it is something that I am aiming to get some more of in the future. I don’t want to just accumulate things for the sake of having them, but next time I’m on holiday it is something that I’ll be keeping an eye out for, those little treasures with a story to bring home.

5.   Now rearrange the books and artifacts on your bookcase to give a bit more space.  Before you start putting books on, I’d suggest you take a look at the Art of Doing Stuff as apparently there are 7 different ways to stack books.  (Yeah, I know – who thinks up these things!)  With my Expedit bookcase in the living room (which is four squares by four squares) I decided that two squares in each row should be full and two should be ‘styled’ with other things in them as well as books.

And you know what?  I think it actually works!  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I really love the way it looks and it has totally lightened up the space too.  Much less prominent in my small space and really beautiful to look at.  I’m loving having a few more inspirational quotes around the place too.  It feels good.

I’d love to hear about your bookcase styling adventures.  Send me a photo and it might feature in one of the future posts here at Frankly Books! Do you have a special way of arranging your books?  Alphabetical? Dewey system? Series together?  By colour?




3 thoughts on “Styling your bookcases (Yes, it’s actually a real thing!)

  1. I love this post! On our last move, my husband decided to put all our books out, shelved according to colour. Given I’d so efficiently packed them in boxes A-Z I was frustrated to say the least. However, I do have to admit it looks good (even if I can’t find what I want half the time!)

    • franklybooks

      Aren’t they just the best bookcases! They are actually a bit tricky to style comepared with some because each space is only about a foot wide (which doesn’t leave much space for lying books and standing books in one space) but it is a fun weekend project!

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