Styling a Bookcase

I’ve mentioned here and there that I’ve been working on revamping my faux-stained laminate bookcases, and I can officially say they are done & styled. Take a look…

I LOVE a well-styled bookcase!  A good mix of books, accessories, and personal momentos really brings life and character to a bookcase.

When we moved into our home a couple years ago, I was in a wood-tone state-of-mind, and chose these laminate shelves from Walmart for $99/each.  They are not at all of great quality, but at the time they fit the bill.

before pictures…

Since then, I’ve started transitioning to a whiter and lighter aesthetic.  Once the decision was made to paint the front room a dark navy hue, the dark faux-stained bookcases blended in too much with the dark walls.

With the light green walls, they worked, but not so much now.


White bookcases were a must!  Check out the result.

Huge change right?! I have an awesome How-To Paint Laminate tutorial coming soon, but in the meantime, this post is all about How-To Style a Bookcase.

Let’s break it down.

Steps to Styling a Bookcase

1.  Whether it’s a butt-load of books or simply a few, since it is a bookshelf, books are the best items to start with. Mix em’ up by having some vertical and others horizontal. Layer them on top of each other and in different ways on the various shelves. Then…

2. Add the accessories.  Layer accessories in front of the books, on top of the books,  and/or in between the books.

3. Finish with the details.  Add pictures and/or momentos that make your bookcase unique and personal.

You saw the one finished bookcase above, and here is the other…

Want to see a closer view?  Check out these up-close-and-personal shots…

For the smaller paperback books, I layed them horizontally and in 4 piles with two set back in the center.  Having them set back allows for the layering of accessories in front giving depth and an interesting way to view the books.  I also like leaning pictures on the backs of the bookcases to add a pop of color.

Love my desk chair?  You can learn all about it by clicking here.

I often get asked, Where do you find unique accessories to style the shelves?

Finding accessories that fit your style for a bookcase can sometimes be a challenge.  One of my favorite go-to resources for accessories throughout my home is One Kings Lane.  They have such a diverse selection and variety of accessories and furniture!

Starting today, OKL has teamed up with Martha Stewart to offer an eclectic collection of french inspired decor including furnishings, art, rugs, tabletop, etc. The Entertaining en Provence event – an extension of an article in the September issue of Martha Stewart Living – incorporates colors like pale greens, sages, creams and linens – o so yummy

The sale only lasts for 72 hours, so you’ll want to click on over and check out what Ms. Martha has pulled together.  If you aren’t a member of OKL, no problem – it’s FREE to sign up!

Here’s a sneak peak at a few of the fab items that you’ll see at the One Kings Lane sale

Be sure to click over because you might even see some similar accessories to what I used for my bookcase display.

Here’s one more peak of my newly styled bookcases – I know you can’t get enough, hehe.


What do you display on your bookshelves?  Do you find it difficult to know where to begin and what to display? Where do you find accessories?  Are you a One Kings Lane fan?

Thanks to One Kings Lane for sponsoring today’s post on styling.

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  1. says

    Jenna that chair is awesomesauce! And now, I have PROOF that I am not the only person who turns books in different directions, adds pictures and junk (edited his term there) on my bookcases. I tried to tell him my mom does it, but when he pointed out that she only had like, 3 books in her entire house, I had to give him the point.

    I’m really loving your white shelves. We are moving in 10 days, and I’m thinking I need to freshen my pair of huge oak cases so they don’t fade into the suede paint at our new place…oh hubs is gonna hate me! LOL

  2. says

    Awesome tips! I love your bookcase in white. I struggle with bookcases. We have a lot of books, and not a lot of space or many shelves. I try to break up the space some, but it’s hard when I actually need to use the shelves to store the books. :s Thanks for sharing!!

    • Jenna says

      Thanks Amanda! I have alot of books too, but no matter how many, you can still orient them in different ways and add a few accessories throughout to create an interesting composition. xo Jenna

  3. says

    I was a brown bookcase girl as my built-ins on each side of my fireplace are oak. I say ‘was’ because I am in the process of painting them white. It is a chore but I am sure the results will be worth it. I have tons of books and I had to pull some out and move them upstairs. I think book shelves should hold books. I have seen bookcases all styled with pretty things but no books and I just don’t get that. lol I am a reader and my book collection is a treasure to me. I have bought cute accessories at Home Goods and TJ Maxx. I try to find objects that are eye catching. I have an account with OKL and I love their goods but have yet to purchase anything mostly because the things I love are out of my budget or sold out before I get to them. Thanks for sharing your tips. Your new look is lovely!

    • Jenna says

      Thanks so much Donna. I am thrilled with the newly painted white shelves instead of the darker wood shelves, especially since the wall color is dark now. I too love to comb the shelves of Tj and Homegoods… they both have unique accessories. xo Jenna

  4. says

    wow i am so glad you posted this. my husband has SO many books, i hate having a bookcase purely full of books. i cant wait to try it out in my home!

  5. says

    Your bookshelves look great and I love the white. Looking forward to the tutorial on painting laminate furniture!! I have tried to “style” our huge bookshelf unit, it’s not bad but I don’t have very many neat accessories to use yet. At least they are now organized by theme! :)

  6. Faith says

    I love this look and I used to have the same exact bookcase from walmart. I had to throw it out after a year or 2 because I packed so many books in it that the shelves started to bow and warp. I think what you did here is a great way to stop that from happening.

  7. says

    Great post Jenna!.I’ll be pinning this for sure. Your bookcases are gorgeous! I could look are well styled bookcases all day! They look great white. I’ll have to check out the post on painting them. My youngest has a blond colored small Ikea bookcase in her room that I would love to be white.

    ~ Catie

  8. says

    Thanks! I love this! So many bookcase styling how-to’s don’t include books so much! That’s what I like about my bookcases- is having the books there- and not stored away getting musty! So I CAN have my books in there!
    This looks great!!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Jenna says

      Absolutely! These shelves were a must to look good, but also be functional. I feel as time goes on, I can rearrange them and still add more books too. So happy to have inspired you ;) xo Jenna

  9. says

    I have a quite wide collection of books and just recently have acquired more. I wanted to display my books but I don’t just want to stack pile them on the bookshelf. thanks for your ideas, i love them all!

    • Jenna says

      It’s a total DIY desk made up of 2 low bookcases and a long piece of MDF and a piece of glass on top. Super simple and inexpensive!

  10. polly says

    I love your white bookshelves and would love to see the tutorial on painting laminate.I’ll look around your site.I have trouble finding non-breakable knickknacks for my bookcases. picture frames especiaaly, but vases, pretty dishes, etc, are too dangerous when someone- especially a kid- might want to take a book from the bookcase to read. any suggestions?