> Bless Their Hearts Mom: 4 Designer Tips for Styling Your Bookshelves this Holiday Season by Merri Cvetan
Tuesday, December 8, 2015

4 Designer Tips for Styling Your Bookshelves this Holiday Season by Merri Cvetan

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this guest post,, free of charge, from Merri Cvetan, via Home Depot,  for posting purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it

Have you completed your holiday decorating yet?

Feel slumped and need some new ideas?

Check out this easy decor from Merri!

decorated holiday bookshelf

If you’re a collector like I am, you probably have more things to display than space to show them off. On the other hand, you can restyle your shelves each season without having to get anything new! There are a few tricks to styling or staging bookshelves. It doesn’t matter if it’s time to bring out Christmas collections or in January when you put everything away—these tips work all year long.

empty  bookshelf

I started with a tall, narrow antique wood bookshelf in a dark stain. There’s enough space between the stationary shelves to display all sorts of things. Because it is so dark, it’s important to use items that will brighten up the case.

santa collection

This year I decided to display part of my St. Nick collection.

decorated holiday bookshelf 2

Tip 1: Choose a Common Theme or Color

When you group like items together, they have a greater impact. By using only Santas and not adding in snowmen or angels, for example, my display has a theme and focal point. I selected only St. Nicks that were either mostly off-white or had lots of off-white in their decoration. On this particular shelf I added a cardboard Christmas house. The color is identical and it adds another element of interest.

decorated holiday bookshelf 3

Tip 2: Use Props to Add Height

I collect books, and I use them whenever I’m creating a display. They’re perfect for adding height—you want to make sure every item isn’t the same size or lined up like little soldiers.

decorating holiday bookshelf 1

On this shelf, I used three vintage books. I placed the spines toward the back 
so the pages’ off-white edges would show. 

decorated holiday bookshelf 3

Since the shelf is so dark, I set a book vertically. Not only does it add height, but it 
creates a nice backdrop for the wood-chopper Santa.

decorated holiday bookshelf 4

Tip 3:  Work in Odd Numbers

When creating any display, always think in odd numbers. Three, five or seven items look much better than four or six. Try it yourself. Set up a shelf with three things and then add a fourth. 

You’ll understand what I mean. On this shelf, I have three St. Nicks (the painted log, Santa on a bunny barrow and the embroidered picture) and a book. When I added the candle, the “scene” now has five items, and it looks cohesive and complete.

Tip 4: Create Depth

An easy way to create depth on your bookshelves is to incorporate art. A framed picture placed in front of a row of books breaks up the repetition of the spines. Using art in the background adds another layer, especially in a dark bookcase like this one. 

Do the same with front-to-back staggering. Place smaller items toward the front edge and larger at the  back. Make sure everything doesn’t have the same “weight” or isn’t the same scale or size. (Note that in this scenario, I consider the two books as one item or prop). 

Bonus Tip: 

This might be the most important tip when decorating bookshelves or any room in your house. I always follow the advice of William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”  I’ll take it one step further: Whatever you display should be meaningful to you and represent your personality and lifestyle.

About Merri:

Merri Cvetan is an interior designer and avid collector who writes about her home decor and DIY 
projects for The Home Depot. Being a collector, Merri has plenty of ideas and items that can 
help add sparkle to a bookshelf in your home. To view Home Depot's selection of bookshelves available online, you can visit the company's website here.

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