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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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!
More creative and colorful open shelving:Elle Decor
Get more room inspiration in our Get This Look library, such as