How To Decorate and Arrange Bookshelves

How to Decorate and Arrange Bookshelves

Whether you’re an avid reader or you just enjoy a book while on holiday, a bookcase or bookshelf can make a great addition to any home. As well as being a practical place for you to store your books, they can be a great vessel for you to show off your home décor style and put your favourite ornaments and trinkets on display. But when you see a large empty space in front of you, it can be difficult to come up with bookshelf ideas which are both functional and look great.

To give you some inspiration, we’ve put together this guide on how to decorate a bookshelf. Read on to discover practical solutions for how to arrange a bookshelf, as well as ideas for getting them to match the rest of your interiors.

How to arrange bookshelves

No matter the size of your bookshelf, having a storage system is a good idea. Keeping your bookshelf organised won’t just make it easier to find your favourite novels, but it’ll make the area look much tidier too. Plus, a well organised bookshelf can save space for you to fill with personal trinkets or even more books.

How to organise a bookshelf

There are a variety of ways to organise bookshelves, so it really comes down to what method would work best in your bookcase, as well as your personal interiors preference. One of the most common methods is arranging them by alphabetical order, either by the author’s first name, last name, or book title. This method alone is a good one if you don’t have many, but if you have a lot of books which are all varying sizes, it can make the bookshelf look less organised.

Another method which you may want to try is arranging books by height. This will make it look much more uniform, which is ideal if you’re looking to achieve a minimalist style. When doing this, it’s best to have the largest and heaviest books on the bottom shelves for stability.

Want to use your bookshelf to make a beautiful display? You can also arrange your bookshelves based on colour. You can group books of the same or similar colours together, or even add a little of each colour to each shelf to make a collection of book rainbows. While it isn’t the most practical option, it’s certainly eye -catching and a great way to dress bookshelves.

Of course, you can also use a combination of the methods above to create a beautifully organised and aesthetic bookshelf. For example, you could have a section of large red books alphabetised, next to a selection of small red books alphabetised, next to a selection of large orange books alphabetised, and so on.

No matter how you choose to arrange books on a bookshelf, it’s a good idea to split the books up a bit. You can do this by decorating your bookshelves with trinkets and ornaments, artwork, plants, candles, and so on. This will add a personal touch to the space and make it feel less cluttered.

How to organize a bookshelf with a lot of books

If you’re an avid reader, you’ll no doubt have a wide collection of books to store on your bookshelf. When it comes to organising a large selection of books, arranging by genre is a good way to go in terms of practicality. It allows you to narrow down the area you’re searching for quickly, and you can alphabetise the genres to make your arrangement even more convenient.

Having such a wide collection can also make it trickier to fit them all on your bookshelf. The best way to ensure that your books can fit is to keep them as organised as possible. Stacking them well without clutter in the way makes it much easier to fit more books on a shelf. You can also try stacking them horizontally in some areas if this will save you space. This won’t impact the condition of your books as long as you stack them with the heaviest on the bottom and the lightest on top, to avoid adding pressure to the spine.

The most important thing to do is make sure you have enough space for all your collection. Books which are stuffed in a small space for a long time can become torn or crumpled, and you may damage the spine. If your bookshelf is arranged well and you still have books left over, it may be time for an upgrade. Or if you love the bookshelf you already have, why not add another? You can buy a new small bookcase to give yourself space to display your books beautifully, store them in a different piece of furniture, or even display them around the house.

How to store books without a bookshelf

If you’re trying to find out how to store books without a bookshelf, the good news is that there are plenty of options for you. You may have some of these already, and even if you don’t the following are sure to make fantastic additions to your home. Plus, they can even double up as storage for a variety of other bits and pieces.


If you have a sideboard or cabinet which isn’t being put to good use, or if you’re looking to buy a new one but you don’t know what to do with it, using it to display your books is a great idea. There are many cabinets with a mixture of both open shelves and hidden drawers, which allows you to display your books and store a variety of other things too. You can use it to hold stationary, important family files, or even extra books that don’t get a lot of use or don’t fit into the aesthetic of your shelves.

TV stand

TV and entertainment units often come with gaps which are the perfect place to store a small collection of books. This is ideal if you just have a few books which you’re looking to place somewhere else if your bookcase is already full. Or, if you’d rather get use of the whole unit and you don’t have a TV, you can keep books on top of the stand as well with a couple of sturdy bookends either side.

Wall shelves

If you want to store your books higher up, a great way to do this is by utilising wall shelves. This is a great option for people with small homes who don’t have the floorspace to invest in another bookshelf. You can have one or two shelves to display a selection of your favourite books or the ones with the prettiest covers, or even build a bookshelf wall by putting up several shelves for your display.

Around the house

You don’t need to keep all the books in one place. In fact, books can be display features in themselves. A pile of three or four books with a decorative trinket on top can look great in lots of rooms. You can keep a book pile on the coffee table, side table, on top of your chest of drawers, or even on your desk. Another great place to keep your book pile is on your bedside table, especially if you enjoy reading at night to help you doze off.

How to decorate bookshelves

Once you’ve decided where and how you’re going to store and arrange your books, the next step is deciding how to make your bookshelf look pretty. The good news is that there are a number of additions you can make, both big and small, to make your bookshelf suit your own style.

How to style bookshelves

When it comes to decorating a bookshelf, it’s a good idea to consider the style you’re looking to achieve. You may be looking to decorate a bookcase to help it fit in with the rest of your interiors. Or maybe you’re considering switching up the aesthetic of your home, and you’re using your bookshelf to test out some new styles. No matter which look you’re going for, there are plenty of ways to differentiate your bookcase to make it suit your own unique style. To give you inspiration, here are some ways to help your new bookshelf fit in with a few of the most popular interior design trends.


Less is more if you’re planning on creating a minimalist bookshelf. This style is all about getting rid of unnecessary clutter to create plenty of space. When it comes to designing a minimalist bookshelf, organising it well is key to create enough empty space. Stack books effectively and leave gaps rather than piling them together so that it doesn’t appear crowded. Even though this style is all about using less to create space, this doesn’t mean that you have to stick with just adding books to the bookcase. There are plenty of ways you can incorporate accessories to create a bookshelf which is both beautiful and functional. A good way to do this is by choosing accessories which have a purpose to avoid using up space for unnecessary trinkets. For example, a diffuser or candle doesn’t just make a nice addition, but it has the purpose of making the room smell nice too. Another good addition to a minimalist bookcase is a houseplant of your choosing. While with minimalism you’ll want to avoid adding too many decorations, plants are a great addition as they keep the room from looking too empty while not being over dramatic or taking up too much space. For example, a succulent will work well with a minimalist bookshelf as they are relatively self-contained and don’t sprawl as much as other plants. Opt for a plain plant pot in a black, white, grey, or neutral shade, as this colour scheme works well with the simplicity of the style.


While minimalism is all about subtlety and space, maximalism is about being big and bold. With this interior design trend, you can be adventurous and use the things you love to showcase your individuality. There aren’t as many rules with this aesthetic, so you can add a wide selection of your favourite trinkets to the bookshelf to fill out dead space and add pops of colour. You can also add artwork or prints in the larger empty areas — don’t be afraid to choose something a little quirky as this trend is all about embracing the fun elements of interior design. But just because the style is big and bold, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to create a cohesive look with your colour scheme. A good way to create a fun and bright colour scheme which works is to opt for trinkets, decorations, and artwork comprising of complementary colours. These are shades which are opposite each other on the colour wheel, and they look different and distinct whilst still pairing well. Some fun complementary colour scheme pairings are green and purple, and blue and orange.


A classic and timeless style, the traditional interior design trend is a fantastic option for a bookcase. Not only does it look great in itself, but it works well with a variety of other styles too. It’s also relatively easy to put together so anyone can enjoy this trend in their own homes. The traditional design trend uses a lot of wood, which is ideal when it comes to decorating your bookshelf. Dark wood is particularly popular with this trend, but any kind will work well with it. You can complement your traditional wooden bookcase with other dark and warm colours, including shades of red, brown, green, and orange. When it comes to accessories, there’s no need to go overboard as this trend is more about quality than quantity. Vintage accessories and trinkets will work particularly well with this timeless trend. If you don’t have any, head to your next local flea market or car boot sale as you may be able to snag a beautiful antique decoration for a bargain. And just like with the minimalist trend, you may want to add traditional décor which has a purpose in itself, such as a beautiful vintage clock or ornate candlestick holders.


The comforting and welcoming rustic interior design style is one which works particularly well for bookcases. Like the traditional style, it works well with solid wood so whether you’re planning on making a bookshelf in a bookcase or a cabinet, this style will look great. A warm neutral colour scheme looks good with rustic interiors, such as shades like subtle greens and reds, and brown hues like tan and beige. This neutral colour palette clearly takes some inspiration from nature, and adding nature-inspired décor is the perfect way to complement this. Houseplants will make a good addition to the bookshelf, as will decorations made from natural materials like wood, wool, and stone. And as this is a particularly cosy interior design trend, why not add some warm, subtle lighting to your rustic bookshelf? A candle or small table lamp will make a great functional addition and make the bookshelf a key part of the rest of the room.

How to decorate bookshelves without books

If you have a bookshelf but you aren’t a big reader, you may be wondering how exactly you can fill those empty spaces. But whether you have just a small selection of books or you have none, there are plenty of ways to decorate a bookshelf without any books at all.

As well as using the decorative items above, such as houseplants, candles, trinkets, antique decorations, and artwork, there are a number of ways you can use your bookcase which don’t involve books. You could use the piece of furniture as a place to display your personal family photos. This allows you to keep them all in one place, and you can put decorative accessories between them to split the photos up a bit too.

Another great idea is to use it to store other groups of items which are important to you. For example, music lovers can use the space to store a radio, CD player, or turntable if the shelving is deep enough, alongside CDs, vinyl, and other musical trinkets like artwork of their favourite band. Another great musical addition to the set-up is bookshelf speakers, which are compact loudspeakers specifically designed to be on a raised surface, such as a bookshelf.

After reading this guide, you should know all the essential information for how to decorate a bookshelf, from organising and arranging it to how to make a bookshelf look pretty. Whether you’re planning on creating a bookshelf in a bookcase, cabinet, or on wall shelving, we’ve got the base you need here at Casa Bella.

You’ll also find a wide array of other pieces of furniture to browse here, including dining tables, chairs, and benches, console tables, CD and DVD storage, mirrors, and much more. Shop for new furniture for your living room, dining room, bedroom, or your office today, and for more design inspiration and advice, make sure to keep up to date with our blog.