August 20, 2014

Bookshelf Styling 101 (video)

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!



  1. Anele @ Success Along the Weigh

    August 20th, 2014 at 5:52 am

    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. Jen

    August 20th, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I’m so glad! Thank you so much for reading/watching!

  3. Anna | Gone Banannas

    August 20th, 2014 at 7:26 am

    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!

  4. Brittany

    August 20th, 2014 at 7:57 am

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

  5. Jen

    August 20th, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Hi Brittany, try closing all other windows. My guess is that you have something else open that is playing at the same time. Thanks!

  6. Brittany

    August 20th, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    It was my headphones – time for a new pair!

  7. Jen

    August 23rd, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Phew! Glad you figured it out!

  8. Marcy

    August 20th, 2014 at 10:15 am

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

  9. Jen

    August 20th, 2014 at 10:24 am

    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!

  10. Michelle

    August 20th, 2014 at 6:16 pm

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

  11. Jen

    August 23rd, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Thank you, Michelle! It’s from Anthropologie, but I don’t know if they carry it anymore.

  12. Ellen

    August 21st, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    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!

  13. Jen

    August 23rd, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I don’t even know what Calliou is! Ha!

  14. Ellen

    August 23rd, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Oh! Ha! Well, count yourself lucky! It’s just a children’s show my son used to watch alllll the time. But he’s 8 now so kids have probably moved on!

  15. Natalie

    August 23rd, 2014 at 9:49 am

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

  16. Sylvie de porte coulissante

    August 26th, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    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.

  17. Kyle

    March 21st, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    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?

  18. Jen

    March 23rd, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    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!

  19. Jerry Yu

    March 29th, 2018 at 10:46 am

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

  20. Jen

    April 2nd, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    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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She’s Jen. He’s Jon. We’re believers in the power of home, fearless DIYers, and eternal optimists who know with a can-do spirit, elbow grease and some guidance, you can create a home you love. We love a good project—or 20. Stick around and we’ll have you pulling out the paint brushes and fluffing throw pillows in no time.

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