Bookshelf Styling 101 (video)

August 20, 2014

During all of the built-in construction (see part 1part 2, the room reveal and the design details), I found myself saying over and over “I can’t wait to get my hands on the shelves!”  They were begging for some styling and I was itching to bring some color and character into the room.


Bookshelf styling can often leave people scratching their heads– unsure what to fill the empty space with and how to arrange it.  I really love styling and in fact every time I go to my best friend’s house, she may or may not find her shelves tweaked after I leave.

Today I’m spilling the secrets of my process with a video tutorial: Bookshelf Styling 101.  (thanks to James for his skills, as usual!)

A few sources for you:

Left shelves:  West Elm Tray | Foo Dog Bookends (similar) | Target Basket (out of stock) | Additional: Homegoods Turquoise Box, Candles, Coral Frame, vintage gold swans, thrifted antlers, vintage coral, extra books are either vintage or from Barnes and Noble

Right shelves: Birch Lane Buckhead Bookends c/o | Target Basket | Mirrored Box | Ginger Jars: Vintage | Globe: Homegoods | Lanterns: Homegoods | Vases: from Target and Homegoods

Thanks for your feedback yesterday.  I would still love to hear your thoughts!



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  1. You have no idea how much I needed this right now. I’m staring at my newly repainted armoires and was thinking how the heck do I get them to look, well, as good as yours! 🙂

  2. This was a super helpful video! I liked the way that I had styled my bookshelves for a while but, as of late, I am feeling like they are a little too cluttered. My beau and I have A LOT of books and I have them all displayed in varying fashion on our shelves (ours are similar to yours – just not built-ins). Do you think that it is probably a better idea to only display books that are adding to the color and dimension of the bookshelves? Thanks, Jen!

  3. Brittany says:

    I can see you talking in the video, but I can’t hear you. All I hear is music.

  4. Marcy says:

    I can’t hear you talking either. I can only hear the music.

    • Jen says:

      Hi Marcy, if you clicked on James’ website, he has a video that plays quite loud music on a loop. So, if you have that window open at the same time, that music will overpower the video. Try closing out of all other windows, then watching and let me know if that works. Thanks!

  5. Michelle says:

    Love this!!! It turned out great! Where did you get your cute letter “S” that is on the stand on your mantle?

  6. Ellen says:

    I have some shelves to style this weekend, so this is perfect timing. Thanks for the tips!

    I did sort of shudder though, when you used the “Calliou” music for the intro and tag. Ha! I’ve heard that music ONE too many times! Ha!


  7. Natalie says:

    Love this!!! Will be using this as we stage our home to put it on the market!!
    the built-ins look really great.

  8. The bookshelves on each side with the black tv at the center give a fantastic look. Great video editing as well, so professionnaly done. You need to have nice books though to highlight the beauty of the shelves, (but you’re giving nice tips if we don’t have). Thanks for that.

  9. Kyle says:

    I was wondering if James had made any drafts or plans on paper and if you could share some of the details on a drawing to help me make this for my place?

    • Jen says:

      Hi there, I drew it up at the time and my husband, Jon, and I made it. But I don’t have those drawings anymore. I’m sorry!

  10. Jerry Yu says:

    could you please share the model of this IKEA book shelf ?

    • Jen says:

      Hi Jerry, the bookshelves aren’t ikea, just the base unit, which we then turned into a built in bookshelf. The base unit is the Besta Unit. Hope that is helpful!

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