For Prettier Bookshelves, Less is More

Try these tips from Arlington home stylist Melissa MacGregor

Photo by Lisa Helfert

START FRESH Take everything off the shelf and put back only the items you love most (e.g., a memento from your travels, a beautiful vase). Then fill in the gaps with books and other collectibles of varying heights, colors and textures. Shiny or metallic objects contrast nicely with books.

USE BOOKENDS AS A DESIGN ELEMENT. Try marble or agate for a chic contrast to the rough texture of the book bindings (remove dust covers for a cleaner look).

EDIT YOUR BOOK COLLECTION. To avoid that crammed look, allow books to occupy no more than 60 to 75 percent of your shelf space. Arrange them both horizontally and vertically.

ADD SEASONAL TOUCHES. For example, a lantern with a flameless candle can be filled with items such as shells, candy corn or pinecones.

PLAY UP THE SHELF BACKS. Paint the shelf “lining” in an accent color, then prop up a piece of artwork or a decorative object against that backdrop to make it pop.

CREATE PHOTO VIGNETTES. Display a cluster (but not all) of your family pictures. Choose frames in different colors, sizes and materials.
Want more decorating wisdom? Follow MacGregor on her blog,, or contact her at

Categories: Style