• Style Guide: Bookshelves

  • Style Guide: Bookshelves

    Beautiful bookshelves have tremendous impact in the design of a room. I’m often asked how to style bookshelves properly – it’s easy to get them wrong but equally easy to get right. First and foremost, bookshelves should have books, they are the soul of a home. I never tire of seeing shelves full of books, both new and old. Like the art you choose, your book collection tells friends who you are, what you like and maybe some secrets.  I find myself poking around my friends’ libraries in a rather voyeuristic way…

    Start by putting the books on the shelves first. Arrange books in a visually appealing way but never forgo organisational sense in favour of grouping by aesthetics. There is a fad for arranging books by colour that leaves me wondering how you ever find what you are looking for. I prefer to group by subject and then arrange by size and colours that work well together, both in harmony and contrast. I like a mix of horizontal and vertical arranging. Leave some space between book groups to keep the look clean – this is key to avoid a cluttered  look.

    Build on your book arrangement by adding objects that you love. It works well to unify the theme if possible – a group of hand painted pottery; a collection of inlaid boxes; or a series of graphic line drawings propped alongside the books. I find the combination of books and small works of art charming (on my own shelves I have a collection of Cuban prints). Try to have a variety of sizes in the objects you display. Your objects should be harmoniously varied not uniform.

  • The key to good styling is trial and error. Stand back often to see the effect of each part on the whole. I re-style my bookshelves often as I am constantly acquiring new books. An afternoon re-discovering old friends on my shelves as I move them around brings memories and inspiration.

    A custom made bookshelf in the drawing room of our Dimensional project holds large scale art and design books alongside a collection of decorative objects from around the world (above).  In the living room of our Relaxed project, twin bookcases frame a vibrant pink work of art by Sam Falls (right).

    09/01/2017s, By nataliamiyar