Get This Look: Stylish Library of Open Shelving

Built-in shelves (like ours with the free plans, hint hint) are a classic look and a great addition to any home. But what if you’re a renter or looking for a quicker storage solution that is still chic? Use some basic open shelving to create a stylish library and display! (image via Better Homes and Gardens)

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Get This Look: Stylish Library of Open Shelving | 6 Tips for Chic Open Shelves from #getthislook #bookshelves #style #tips


6 Tips for Styling Open Shelving

1. Start Basic

The super-simple lines and construction of these shelves is part of the chic factor — and the bright color is the rest! By painting a simple shape a fun color, you let it speak without overpowering the rest of the decor. Choosing to leave it natural wood or metal just lets it speak in a different way. Most furniture can be easily spray painted (just buy quality spray paint!), or these Winsome shelves from Amazon have great lines and structure (and price! and reviews!) and come in natural, honey, or espresso finishes.

2. Group By Color

Part of what makes this shelf so eye-catching is the color groupings. If your book collection isn’t quite so colorful, you can fake the look by covering your books with paper or fabric. The Precious Little Things in Life has a great tutorial, plus a great round-up of all the different methods and materials you can cover your books with.   

3. Shine It Up

The glint and glimmer of the metallic accents on the shelves gives the arrangement a modern, dignified look. Wayfair has a great assortment of shiny aluminum vases, or, if you can’t find any you love there or elsewhere, metallic spray paint can change the color of a thrift store vase, orb, or urn quickly. Choose several large high-impact pieces rather than more smaller pieces for the most modern look. 

4. Add Some Life

We say this for every room, but a houseplant adds life and variety to any arrangement. Choose a hardy species or try a faux variety — there are so many that look realistic enough to fool any guests! A simple white flower pot adds to the modern simplicity, or DIY a small cement planter to add a bit more industrial vibe.

5. Frame It

A few framed colorful art prints creates a personal gallery right in your home library. Try one of these DIY art ideas, or find some inexpensive printables to pop in collection of simple frames. To make the colorful shelving and library of books the focal point of the room, keep other colors on the furniture and the walls neutral and go for solid fabrics over loud prints. 

6. Follow A Few Rules of Styling

The basic bookshelf styling tips that we shared with our built-in living room library shelves apply here, too. Help the shelves and decor really stand out by keeping these rules of aesthetics in mind:

  • Group in threes, and think of triangles. Building visual triangles adds balance to the arrangement, and a threesome of decor is naturally pleasing to the eye. The three don’t even have to be grouped together — use them to create a triangle on the shelving to unify the decor. (Read more about visual triangles from Home Stories AtoZ).
  • Layer and group creatively. Use a stack of books or a candle stick to prop up a smaller decorative item, or try turning the books different ways like Karen from The Art of Using shows. Layer items to use the full width of your shelving. 
  • Use what you love. This eclectic bookshelf arrangement should reflect you. If you love the memories associated with a travel memento, you’ll love the arrangement you create with it, even if every designer in the world declares it atrocious. Sometimes aesthetics is about being you… and breaking some rules!

Get This Look: Stylish Library of Open Shelving | 6 Tips for Chic Open Shelves from #getthislook #bookshelves #style #tips


More creative and colorful open shelving:colorful open shelf, Elle DecorElle Decor

open book shelf with globes, Better Homes and GardensBetter Homes and Gardens

open book shelf as a room divider, Design Spongevia Design Sponge

open book shelf with patterns, House to HomeHouse to Home


Get more room inspiration in our Get This Look library, such as

color me casual living room thumb sunny corner banquette thumb neutral rustic bedroom thumb

Color Me Casual Living Room | Sunny Corner Banquette | Neutral Rustic Bedroom



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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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  1. Great post! And timely – I just posted on our blog today about our bookshelf customization and ideas I have for styling it. I especially like the idea of using plants to give life to the arrangement, that’s something I definitely want to do.

  2. I’m still trying to talk hubby into swapping out our Kitchen/LRoom. If I do and he does i’m having some
    open shelving put in somewhere. I love it.
    Love the “House to Home” pic.