Give Your Bookcase a Stylish Makeover

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25 Feb 2013

The days when people would avidly collect books are gone, replaced by Kindles and iPads. But bookcases have not yet become obsolete. They have just changed purpose.

Remember that less is more. Cluttered shelves are an eyesore, and you want your house to say ‘homey’, not ‘hoarder’.

These days, bookcases are used to store the small collection of books you can't bear to part with, the magazines you collect every month and an abundance of other trinkets that somehow find their way onto the shelves.

That doesn’t mean your bookshelf has to look like a window display for a thrift store. Your bookcase can still house your books while looking fashionable and tidy.

Give your shelves or bookcase a thorough clean. If you have a standard wooden bookcase, don't worry about damaging it if you want to paint it a different colour. A bright bold colour can make it a focal point of the room while painting it the same colour as the walls or a neutral colour will give the room a smooth, clean look.

Give your bookcase a look of your personal style by putting strips of wallpaper on the back of the shelves. It gives it a sophisticated chic look. You can also use stencils and paint prints on the side if your bookcase stands or at the back.

How to organise the shelves

Put the heaviest books on the bottom shelves and make things easier on yourself by arranging your books by genre, author or alphabetically.

Remember that less is more. Cluttered shelves are an eyesore, and you want your house to say ‘homey’, not ‘hoarder’. So instead of lining up the books conventionally from left to right, mix it up by stacking a few horizontally and some vertically. Depending on how many books you have, stacking them in the shape of a pyramid creates an interesting look and gives you space for your accessories. Finish the look by placing a small figurine on top.

Some poeple go out and buy decorative pieces for their bookcases, but picture frames, vases, flowers and other trinkets round the house work just as well.

Tip: Step back every once in a while to see the 'whole' picture, make adjustments and fill in any gaps that stand out.

Scatter the books, leaving enough space so you don’t struggle to get them out, but not too much that they lean. Try and group books of the same height together to create a streamlined effect.

Use storage boxes to make impromptu drawers for magazines, DVDs and toys. Wicker baskets are easy to find in a variety of sizes and don't require any installation and they make great organisers for any office or home bookshelf. You can also organise your magazines by making your own binders. Cover them to look like books or in bright colours to make them stand out and use fun labels to make everything easy to find.

Adding the accessories

Wicker or linen baskets make great drawers that fit easily onto the shelves without having to be installed. Use them to organise your DVDs and magazines.

Bookcases and shelves highlight accessories so try layering them with your books by placing the books at the back of the shelves and a few accessories near the front, or in the middle of two stacks of books. Placing accessories between scattered books creates a look of loose symmetry.

Vintage vases, photo frames, small statues, sea shells, flowers and trinkets you've picked up on your travels will look great when placed among the books. Place vases off centre on the shelves and use the photo frames as bookends. Highlight the photograph by using a bright, bold coloured frame. Place the trinkets on top of a small stack of books and next to other accessories for a great display.

If your bookcases aren’t being used to house books, use them to display things in your home or happy memories of your life. As long as the shelves aren't bulging with items or dirty and cluttered, a display bookcase can make a great piece of home décor. Victoria Taylor

About the Author
Victoria Taylor

Victoria Taylor

Journalist at

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