Extending beyond their common function as a storage receptacle for books, bookshelves are wonderful opportunities for creatively displaying art, knick-knacks, DVDs, and other home accessories. Just because they serve a practical purpose doesn't mean they have to be boring, and they don't even necessarily have to store books at all.
Let's look at some of the easiest ways you can jazz up a standard bookshelf:
1. Leave Them Bare
While our natural reaction to an empty bookshelf is usually to fill it with something, leaving lots of empty space can make a real artistic statement. With the right paint or wallpaper applied, a bookshelf's architecture and design can be emphasized to create a unique work of art that complements a room's walls and furniture so brilliantly, you won't want to clutter them up. Alternatively, empty space on bookshelves keeps the clutter at bay and brings a sense of minimalism and room to grow.
2. Install Mirrors on the Back Space of Each Shelf
Adding mirrors to the back portion of shelves can give the entire wall around them – and the room as a whole – a greater sense of space and depth. And any natural light that strikes them through nearby windows can create a hypnotic effect that brightens the room and enhances its beauty. Just make sure to place your shelf mirrors strategically, so that any harsh glares are minimized or possibly blocked by the placement of certain accessories in front of them.
3. Combine Books with Artwork
Who says bookcases are just for books? Family pictures and a wide variety of different art pieces can find themselves right at home on your shelves, either alone or as visual complements to your books. Framed paintings can be placed next to your books or propped in front of them to create a varied display that pleases the eye, or you can affix them to the back of your shelf spaces to create picturesque artscapes with books and accessories placed in front of them.
4. Coordinate the Colours of Shelf Items With Nearby Furniture
If you like the idea of colour-coding your shelves' books and accessories, consider bringing that sense of unity outward. As you match the colours of things like vases, clocks, or figurines with the books and DVDs on a certain shelf, look for ways to tie them in with the colour scheme of your room. Consider having a specific shelf's contents match the colours of nearby chairs, lounge seats, or throw pillows, for instance.
5. Organize Books By Colour
This is a tried and true way to create a bookcase that excites the eye with different colours but in an organized and symmetrical way. While organizing your books by colour might make zeroing in on a specific title a little more difficult, having a rainbow display of colours on different shelves can make it well worth the time.
Removing the dust covers of hardbacks that feature multiple colours can make them easier to assign to specific colour-coded shelves. For books with drab or nondescript spines, consider painting each shelf you place them on a vivid colour that brings out their faded colours, either by complementing or contrasting with them.
6. Opt for Big, Bold Art, and Accessories
Cramming too many tiny nondescript knick-knacks on your shelf is visually chaotic and a major dust magnet. It's best to decorate with a small number of large, striking accessories. This interior design trick will improve any room by adding personality without being too overwhelming.
A tall vase filled with colourful, oversized flowers may be the only adornment you need in one section of your bookcase. Large balls of richly coloured twine, sizable ceramic figurines, and jumbo-sized craft books are all great ornamental candidates that are easily seen from the other side of the room. Group smaller items like marbles, pencils, and seashells together in clear containers.
7. Create a Sight With Light
You don't have to rely on daylight alone to illuminate the contents of your bookshelves. You can install track lights on the ceiling just above your bookcase to highlight specific areas, attach adhesive mini-lights to the tops of individual shelves, or stick small uplights behind framed photos or other pieces of art to showcase them. This can be a great way to rock an open concept design as it acts as a visual accent piece to break up the large space.
8. Cap It All Off With Bookends
Last but not least, consider using decorative bookends on your shelves. In addition to providing support to books like paperbacks, skinny hardbacks, and tall magazines, unique or antique bookends can add real visual flair to your bookcases.
You can also use them to stylistically "split things up" by applying them only to books on a middle shelf, filling the shelves above and/or below it with stacked books, or separating arrangements with photos on higher shelves from lower displays that contain knick-knacks or figurines.
Many times bookcases are cluttered jumbles of mismatched books and random ornaments that just aren't very pleasing to the eye. If you've been tempted to avoid them altogether and keep all your books hidden away behind closed cabinets, you may want to reconsider your options with these creative tips, which are just a few of the most popular and easily implemented bookshelf decorating techniques.