hey friend, 

get to know me

I'm Carrie Barker.

I'm here to simplify the home build planning and design process so that YOU feel equipped to confidently build your dream home without regrets and without blowing your budget!

home build planning

Browse home build tips

Floor plan creation

home build budget

design finishes

get the freebie!

home decor

Browse design tips

design finishes

Follow along:

Home Build prep guide


Design + Decorate

Your Guide to Styling Bookshelves

Published on:


written by:

Carrie Barker


Ugh … the elusive task of styling bookshelves! Are you with me on this?! It can be SO overwhelming to look at a blank slate of bookshelves in your home!

It doesn’t have to be so hard though! I’ll let you know what works for me, as well as provide some styling tips, photo inspiration, and a HUGE (well, 26 items) list of home décor accents to get you started!

There is NO right or wrong way to style your shelves, so taking that fear of perfection out of the equation makes it less daunting of a task!

Affiliate links are used in this post for your shopping convenience. Click here for my full disclosure policy.


Styling bookshelves all boils down to trial and error! It is all about playing around with different groupings of books and accents!

Start by choosing an overall color palette, and then play around with books, shapes, and textures within that palette. By textures, I mean metals (e.g. gold or silver) and organics (e.g. driftwood or small plant).  Keep in mind that it is TOTALLY fine to mix metals on your bookshelves! I do it!

Play around with horizontal and vertical placements of your books and accents. Also play around with different sizes of books and accents to add visual interest.

Place a small plant or metal accent on top of a stack of books. Use a vase as a bookend. Place a canvas photo of your children on a shelf (I did this). The opportunities are endless!

Tip: I take photos of my shelves styled in different ways. I then refer back to the photos to see what style looks the most polished to me! This also gives me a reference if I swap items around and wish I hadn’t because I miss the old ‘look’!


If you have very little books in your home or your books aren’t in the color palette you want, you can do what I did to supplement my book stash.

Go to your local bookstore and purchase hardbound books from the clearance section. Another option is to purchase used books from your local library.

With both of these options, don’t worry about the condition or color of the book jacket! Look at the book color and condition BELOW the book jacket. You will be cutting off and pitching the book jacket when you get home anyway!

My Bookshelves

Stick with books in your common color theme to create a cohesive look on your shelves. I chose light blues, greys, and other neutral colors.

It looks best to have varying sizes and scale of books and accents, so supplement your small books with large coffee table books in subjects you are passionate about. If Interior Design is your passion, you can find most of the books I own HERE.


So now you know how to build up your book collection. What about décor accents? Where do you start?!

I’ve rounded up some accents to get you started with your own shelf styling! You can click on the corresponding numbered link (below collage) to go directly to the retailer’s website.

shelf decor accents

1 I 2 I 3 I 4 I 5 I 6 I 7 I 8 I 9 I 10 I 11 I 12 I 13 I 14

 15 I 16 I 17 I 18 I 19 I 20 I 21 I 22 I 23 I 24 I 25 I 26


As I say in nearly every post, there is no RIGHT or WRONG way to style your home! Go with the style that makes YOU happy! Not what makes others happy!

Take your time in curating your book and accent collections … find items that you really love … items that show guests your passions in life! Hopefully one or more of the items in the roundup above speak to you! You can easily shop the items by clicking on the corresponding number!


  1. […] might enjoy Your Guide to Styling Bookshelves (this post includes inexpensive ideas to bulk up your book […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I designed my own custom home from the ground up, inside and out. A home that is cozy, comfy, laid out perfectly for the way my family lives, and makes us happy every single day. Oh, and did I mention I did this all without blowing the budget?! 

Yep, it’s true. I’ve been there, done that, and actually lived through it … and you will too. Pinkie promise!

a.k.a. Caroline on Design

I’m Carrie Barker.

hey there,


Get My free  
Home Build Prep Guide

yes! I need this!