The Essential guide to decorating with bookcases

Posted by Chris Lu on

Whether you live in a McMansion or a 40 square metre studio apartment we all have something to store or display. It might be the Murano vase you picked up in Venice or the latest novel, and it needs somewhere to call home.

Here are four simple rules for incorporating bookshelves in your home.

RULE 1: FIT
This is very important. Bookshelves vary greatly and can be as narrow as 95mm wide up to 1200mm or more. Since most bookshelves are around 1800mm high, they make efficient use of space regardless of the width. If it is going in an alcove, go as wide as you can to fill it. If it is going in a wide space, go to rule 2 below.

RULE 2: MASSING
If you have a wide wall to fill group multiple bookcases together to create a dramatic effect. Of course, this is dependent on how much wall space you have! Ideally, it should be an odd number like three or five shelving units.

RULE 3: FURNITURE ENDS
Since bookshelves are tall, they make great end pieces to furniture that is lower in height. TV cabinets or buffets are ideal candidates and create a gorgeous focal point in the room. The bookcases simply frame in the lower height furniture piece and visually grounds it. Imagine a bookshelf on either end framing a TV cabinet and a TV. It creates a rectangular decorating area on the wall that is substantial and visually interesting.

RULE 4: DECORATING A BOOKSHELF
I decorate a bookshelf with the small top to heavy bottom rule. Small items are placed on the top level shelf and larger items on the bottom levels. Heavy large books should always be on the bottom level. Use heavy decorative items as bookends. If the books are too big, stack them on their sides. Picture frames should be at eye level. Sentimental or significant items should be on their own shelf  to highlight their importance.