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Growing up, my mom always had our bookshelf filled to the brim with books of every kind. They were arranged every which way and crammed onto each shelf like a pack of sardines. If we managed to get one book out, it was inevitable that a few more would come tumbling down with it.

Fast forward to now and I have also taken on this habit of stuffing the shelves to the brim with all kinds of books, arranged every which way.

I flipped through a few home décor magazines and scrolled through my Pinterest feed to get some inspiration for a little organization.

A lot of the shelf styling pictures and tutorials that I found, while absolutely beautiful, didn’t actually contain many books. There were one or two perfectly placed on a shelf, but what about those of us that actually want to use our book shelf for… books [shocking revelation, I know]?

So, I thought I’d share a book lovers guide to styling a book shelf. Because us book lovers deserve some lovin’ too. And to show it is possible to have a beautifully styled shelf that serves its intended purpose.

Book Lover's Guide to Styling a Book Shelf

Here’s the before shot – I wasn’t lying when I told you it was cluttered and crammed!

Tip #1. Start with an empty shelf. It’s easier to put together when you’re starting from square one.

Book Lover'Guide to Styling a Book Shelf

Tip #2. Remove all the book jackets from the hard cover books.

Book Lover's Guide to Styling a Book Shelf

Tip #3. Put together like-colors and like styles – hard cover with hard cover, paperback with paperback.

Book Lover's Guide to Styling a Book Shelf

A Book Lover's Guide to Styling a Book Shelf

Tip #4. Arrange books in rows and in piles. It creates a little more visual interest than just rows all the way across a shelf.

Book Lover's Guide to Styling a Book Shelf

A Book Lover's Guide to Styling a Book Shelf

Tip #5. Shop your house for trinkets and knick-knacks. Candle holders, figurines and glass jars work great.

Book Lover's Guide to Styling a Book Shelf
A Book Lover's Guide to Styling a Book Shelf

And just like that, you’ve got a great looking book shelf that is actually functional!

All our best,


  1. Sabrina

    Oh my Kelly, first of I really love your book shelve. It looks so cute and rustic. We are still shy of some bookshelves in our house and we have millions of books still packed up in boxes… With your organizing tips it will be so much easier to fill the shelves once we get around to buying/building some. Thanks so much for your great tips!

    • Kelly

      Thank you, Sabrina! The book shelf is made from a pallet and some left over scrap wood – super easy and inexpensive!



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