How To Decorate & Style Bookshelves

Earlier this week I did a little reveal of our living room bookshelves. I needed to prove to you guys that I have in fact decorated at least one thing outside of my room. Today I thought I would show you guys how I went about styling the shelves.

How To Style Bookshelves

Just as a refresher, here’s what the shelves look like now. You can see them in their prior barren glory here.

How To Style Bookshelves

Now, I am by no means a professional decorator and for all I know I could have broken several cardinal rules when it comes to accessorizing bookshelves. But, I’ll share with you how I went about styling them and share a few tips that worked for me.

I’ll start with the right hand side of the built in bookshelves first.

How to Style BookshelvesThe main rule or tip I used when trying to figure out where to place things was the rule of triangles. Basically that means you place like objects in a triangle pattern. This helps to balance your shelves and it’s also what’s the most visually appealing.

Here’s an example.

How To Style BookshelvesIf you follow the coral arrows, you can see that all of my books {with the exception of the stack in the upper right corner} follow a triangle pattern. Also, since I had so many, I tried to place them in a variety of different ways. I stacked them both horizontally and vertically and also leaned some of the books.

How To Style BookshelvesI also added a few {faux} plants to the shelves. If you follow the gray arrows, you can see that those are also placed along a triangle or diagonal pattern.

I think plants, even if they are fake, help to add life to any space.

How To Style BookshelvesI also used a few over-sized or large items on the shelves {the fan, coke crate and wire basket}. Once again, if you follow the green arrows, I also placed those along the triangle pattern {are you beginning to notice a trend?}.

I mentioned this before, but it really did take me several weeks to get the shelves like I wanted them. I know some people can throw stuff together all at once and it absolutely looks amazing. For me though, I really had to take some time to live with them for a bit, and then adjust or tweak after deciding I didn’t like where something was.

I by no means set out to have everything perfectly placed along the triangle pattern. But it’s true, it really is the most visually appealing. Everything just ended up fitting into that rule once I stepped back and was happy with how they looked.

How To Style BookshelvesThe left hand side of built in bookshelves doesn’t have as many accessories since the bulk of it is taken up by our tv.

How To Style BookshelvesBut you can see that with the vases and the two frames, both sets of objects follow the triangle pattern. It’s weird how that works!

For additional styling tips, both SAS Interiors and Home Stories A to Z have great posts on how to achieve well styled bookshelves.

Do you use the rule of triangles when you are decorating? Other than the rule of triangles, what’s your one go to trick when styling your bookshelves?

I’ll be back Monday with a roundup of where I got all the accessories I used to fill my shelves.

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Linking up to: Serenity Now, Liz Marie, My Repurposed Life, Home Stories A to Z, Uncommon, Shabby Creek, Creative Kristi

You May Also Like:


  1. Rebecca says:

    Great tips! I have trouble with placing accessories and am never really happy with how it’s turned out. I’ll keep this in mind next time I try.

    • Megan says:

      Thanks Rebecca! It definitely took me some time to get things like I wanted. With a little patience and the triangle rule you’ll be an accessorizing pro in no time :)

  2. Claire says:

    Even if it took a few weeks, I’d say you’re a natural, Brooke! Your shelves look great and have so many fun elements to them – especially your beautiful books in so many lovely colours. Does that fan actually work or is it just decorative? Either way, gorgeous!

    Visiting from Serenity Now (deja vu, that’s where I found you last week, too!)

    • Megan says:

      Thanks for making my day Claire! :) So sweet of you to say. The fan is just decorative. Got it from Kirkland’s :) I’m planning to do a post on Monday with a roundup of where I got everything in case anyone is on the hunt for accessories like I was. Thanks again for stopping by!

  3. Your shelves look great Megan! Thanks for sharing a link to my post as well. xo Jenna

  4. I’ve been struggling with my bookshelf lately. I’m definitely gonna try out your “triangle” rule the next time I’m tweaking them and hopefully it’ll help!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Laura says:

    I have some freshly painted shelves that need to be staged like yours. I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but you have given some really good tips here! Thanks!

  6. Thank you so much for posting this. I took some pictures of our house last week, I thought our shelves looked more cluttered than pretty. This will be very helpful as I re-style them.

  7. i love the triangle tip! I had thought about it in the (scary-to-me) world of tablescaping, but now I’ll have to look back at all my shelves to see if I did it there too:)


  8. These looke great Megan! Thanks for the tips!! :)

  9. gail says:

    Megan–your shelves look great! I’m clueless about these things. Even reading what you wrote confuses me. Someday, I’m going to take everything off my shelves and try to put it all back on in a more cohesive triangle look. LOL

    have a great week!

  10. Hey pretty lady! Just wanted to drop by and let you know we will be featuring this awesome post tomorrow!

    Take care,


  11. kimberly says:

    I used this blog to help me style my bookshelf here:

    thanks so much!!

  12. Gay says:

    Excellent, what a web site it is! This blog provides helpful information to us, keep
    it up.

  13. Shanice says:

    Looks fantastic! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays :D Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.


  1. [...] speaking of styling bookshelves, Christy did an amazing job filling 22 feet of IKEA bookshelves with mementos and some of their [...]

  2. [...] on How to Style Bookshelves by Megan Brooke Handmade. You know that I LOVE to style bookshelves and mantels! Megan gives some [...]

  3. [...] house tonight to help them decorate/style their bookshelves. Hoping to apply some of my own tips to their shelves. Will definitely document the process and share the result as soon as we’re [...]

  4. [...] house tonight to help them decorate/style their bookshelves. Hoping to apply some of my own tips to their shelves. Will definitely document the process and share the result as soon as we’re [...]

  5. [...] sure to also check out my post on how I went about styling the shelves here and where I got all the accessories here. You May Also Like:12 Days of Christmas:: Uses For [...]

  6. [...] How-To Decorate & Style Bookshelves {Megan Brooke Handmade} [...]

  7. [...] & style the top of the dresser with. The fan, books and bottle are all from my previous bookshelves in Nashville. The window is from my old bedroom. The bird print is actually from Emily Jones [...]

  8. [...] vintage Coca-Cola crates I bought at the Nashville flea market a few years ago. They were on our styled bookshelves in Nashville before I moved. Since then, they’ve taken up residence in one of the corners of [...]

  9. [...] for more bookshelf styling ideas? Check out these ideas for decorating bookshelves and this post for bookshelf styling [...]

Speak Your Mind