How to Decorate Your Bookshelf


Moving in with my boyfriend was less challenging than I think it has the ability to be. We had already spent so much time together that nothing was really surprising. The only new territory we really had to tap into is learning each other’s decorative tastes. Now if he had his way, our whole apartment would look like Steve Kerr’s office. And as we know, that just can’t happen. (But one day when he has a man cave, I fully support it!)

I have made sure to be thoughtful on what I bring into our home to decorate with though. I want him to feel just as comfortable so anything too girly has stayed in my vanity area (which is a part of our long walk-in closet and divided by our own areas). He is also not going to spend his time online researching decorative pillows and floor runners so those tidbits have also fallen into my hands. I don’t always pick my number one choices since I know they will be a no-go for him but absolutely the things that we both will like. (Can you say comproise? #grownup).

We were excited to decorate our bar cart the most and we have pretty much stayed on the same wave length when it comes to what we put on it. However, our open shelved bookcase has been a different story. We both had must-have items. His was his signed 49er football and Klay Thompson basketball and mine was my Harry Potter books hugged by my Harry bookends my late grandparents bought me.

I liked the idea of both staying on the shelf as they were representative of things we both love. Him with sports and his favorite teams and me with reading and my favorite books. (I did draw the line at the signed jersey in the family room. Sorry babe, that was meant for the hall in this apartment). Then we had to figure out what else to add. Plants, decorative items, books, pictures and candles all made my list. He made it clear that he did not want our home to look like a cluttered photo albums so I happily obliged and picked things we both liked and kept pictures to a minimum.

We have made a few trips to Home Goods together and I always make sure to drag him down the aisle to help me pick out bookshelf additions. All these adventures gave me a good idea of things he likes and doesn’t. Our shelf is silver but we had a lot of gold accents in our décor so I decided to make the theme gold and go from there. After I decided that the rest was easy. We both love globes so I knew that had to be an addition and when I found the gold letters from CB2, I knew they would have to become the focal point of the shelf. We have the same initials so I like to play that up as much as possible.

From there, I set these rules when it came to designing the aesthetics of the shelf. It definitely worked out because when he came home to see the reorganization, he said “looks nice”. Which is boy world, is a rave review.

Here are the rules:

Use quality frames

I received a picture of us from my cousin’s wedding last year framed in a gorgeous, gold frame from Framebridge. The quality is stunning and was a perfect home for one of my all time favorite photos of us. The classic frame and perfect white matting added to the shelf and stacked on my books (Rodgers and Hammersteins’ song book included of course) and along side a geometric do-dad, it absolutely added a little bit of modern to the classic look.

These frames are also great gifts for the holidays, birthdays and of course, weddings! With all the millions of “I do” ceremonies in our lives, this is a great option!

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Integrate things you both love

Like I said, I’m a lover of books and dream to own a library one day so any books and my Harry Potters were a bottom line for me as was his sports memorabilia for him. From there I decided to pick things that we both thought looked cool or were interesting shaped. We both really like the look of a globe so that made the cut right away as did our initials, and the candles he bought me a few Christmas’ ago. I even put his CPA certificate on the top because it added some height and texture but it is an accomplishment of his to be proud of. With a family picture and one of my niece and nephew, and the records (as homage to my love of singing and theater and his love of music), really added some context and representation of who we are to this area of our home. The gold elephant was also my Nana and Grandpa’s and like the bookends they gave me, I really think it is important to put things of theirs in my home as well as it reminds me of them and feels like I’m still keeping them close.

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Always add plants

Honestly, when decorating and in doubt, buy a plant. They keep the air fresh and add a comforting, natural appeal. They really liven a place up and can be seen all over our apartment. (It helps that our kitchen and family room are extremely sunny too). I wanted a plant that wraps around the shelves and it made the most sense for its home to be on top. The aloe vera plant was a former coworkers and once he got a new job, I inherited Cecil (his name). Cecil is one of the fastest growing, prettiest plants ever (I mean really, perfect shape!) and the variety of structure and texture of the two plants really adds! I say mix it up! I also will add some fresh flowers or lavender on here occasionally when I have them.

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Decide on a main accent color

It is important to tie things in as much as possible and the best way to do this is with color. Shades and textures can be varying to make sure there is something on each shelf that can tie in with another. As mentioned, gold was ours!

Remember Rule of Thirds

Spacing it very important. My mom is one badass decorator and one thing she always told me was to member the Rule of Thirds. It is most appealing to the eye and is sort of a blogger rule to live by as it goes no only for décor but photography as well. Due to this I like to cluster things closer together in threes and magically, it comes together! Thanks mama!


Do not clutter

It’s hard to make it look full sometimes without cluttering. The best advice on this is to play around. You may need to sacrifice certain items (but if you are a twosome, you may not sacrifice the bottom line items- relationship rule #1). Switch things out and figure out what works. You might not get it right the first time but this is part of the fun. Just make sure you aren’t piling things and one thing isn’t being overpowered by another. For instance don’t put two huge things next to each other. It’ll make the area look overdone.


Consider various heights

Height can play a huge key in the aesthetics of a home. Utilize books and magazine to stack frames. You want variations of sizes and heights on each shelf. And remember, if the right side of one shelf is higher then the next shelf down should probabaly have the left side a little higher.

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Consider dust

Always make sure whatever you decorate with is conducive to your lifestyle. Don’t buy things that don’t make sense with how you use your space. Also, consider what you are likely to keep clean when creating this space. A lot of little knick-knacks are notorious dust collectors. If you aren’t a big cleaner, then pick the larger items so the days that you do get to play a little Cinderella, it won’t be such a big pain in the rump.




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