Bookcase Styling 1-2-3

Normally, I like to accessorize a room as the final step, 
but Dana wasn't taking "not yet" for an answer.

So, even though her living room is in progress, I asked her to remove everything from the bookcase.
The blue and white lamp had to stay, 
so we took that direction.
With the arched top, the top shelf needed a curve.
I start with artwork, then collections 
(in this case, Dana's antique wooden containers 
and blue and white china).
After the large accessories are placed, 
I fill in with books and then small accessories,
like Dana's coral and antique bells.
This is the direction that I am recommending 
for the rest of the room.
The walls have already been painted.
Dana's long, skinny bookshelves in her 
family room were a challenge to style.
Here they are before.
And here they are after incorporating her 
antique ceramic collection and the removal of paperbacks.


I recently finished styling our book cases 
in our San Francisco living room
(need to take photos).

The Method: 

1.  remove everything
2.  start with art and
large scale accessories,
3.  add books 
(grouped by color can be nice), 
4.  fill in with small scale accessories
(like photographs, coral, boxes, etc.).

Also, important:
 •  Have the shelves placed somewhat uniformly
•  Remove paperbacked books and
busy paper covers off of hard backed books, 
•  Leave space so accessories can "breathe."

Remember my client, Lisa's newly built in bookcase?
The first item that went in was her beach painting.
 I don't think I showed Lisa's bookcase near her kitchen...
the tray basket stores keys and the grocery list.
These are Debbie's bookcases
(one of my all time favorites--
see how her shelves are placed evenly on both sides?).

Right now I'm in San Diego for a quick visit with my family.

Let me know if you have any questions 
or your own advice about book shelves.

Thanks for visiting!

Participating in:
What's It Wednesday @ Ivy and Elephants
Under $100 Linky Party @ Beyond The Picket Fence
Be Inspired Friday @ Common Ground
Home Sweet Home @ The Charm of Home
Show and Tell Friday @ Romantic Home


  1. I love myself a well styled bookshelf. You do such a wonderful job!

  2. Great ideas and I've saved them to a pin board. We are avid readers and have tons of books, plus gobs of cookbooks. Do you have any ideas for those of us who want to have more books on the shelves than accessories? Or would that look just awful? Thanks so much.

  3. Those look wonderful. I have a hard time with shelves.

  4. I read this and feel the need to do mine again :) thanks for the tips. i'm thinking less might be more for me. BTW...hung the white drapes today :) will send you pics soon.

  5. Nothing makes me feel more at ease than perfectly styled bookcases- you nailed it every time!

  6. Wow you are so good. I loved seeing the final result.....well done! Enjoy your visit:)

  7. Great post and styling, Mary Anne! Love what you did in all of them. That PB Ceramic lamp is one we are using in a client Living Room, and it is seriously spectacular. Have a great trip. xo Nancy

  8. Beautiful styling work, Mary Ann. All of it. I love Dana's blue and white collection mixed with the wooden pieces. xo

  9. Your client must be thrilled with the result - so beautiful and clutter free which I think is hard to do with bookcases. Have a great trip!!

  10. looks awesome! i love seeing how other people do it-bookcases are tough-you know its great when it looks easy-well done!

  11. Love the blue and white with the round wood boxes. What a great mix. You NEVER fail to make me say 'I wish that were mine" about something you do!!

  12. Great styling, as always! They all look beautiful!

  13. Lovely! I think you did a fabulous job on all of them!

  14. Great job, fun to look at, easy on the eyes and what a difference!! Loved seeing your work..thanks for sharing.

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  16. Oopsy...We often forget that "hoarding" means any place or space that has to much stuff. A space is redefined when there's movement. Looks lovely!

  17. The book cases look terrific after you changed them, I like them very much

  18. Hi Mary Ann, I love styling bookshelves! Dana's lamp is wonderful!

    The Arts by Karena

  19. Love a "formula" for fail-safe decorating!! The bookcases look beautiful. Thank you for posting this.

  20. Wonderful job, Mary Ann! I love both an edited and collected look for bookcases!

  21. Fab job! Your client must be thrilled!

  22. Gorgeous decor! Love those rattan candle holders.

  23. You are a genius Mary Ann! Dana must be so pleased! I did my books by color too but I love how you broke those skinny shelves with curved lines with those vases!!!! Enjoy your visit dear!

  24. Hi Mary Ann! I'm popping over from Savvy Southern Style and I love this post. All of the decorated shelves look wonderful! I have builtins in my den on either side of the fireplace and it is hard for me to try to get them 'right'. Thank you for your tutorial.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  25. There is definitely an art to styling bookshelves. Good tips! Thanks for linking up!

  26. Hi Mary Ann, What a huge difference your classic, chic styling made to those bookshelves. They look wonderful! You always inspire me with your posts!! Hope you are having a great time in San Diego!

  27. Man you rocked those long bookshelves...that one was a challenge for sure! Debbie's bookcases are what dreams are made of:)


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