What You Should Always Have on Your Bookshelves!

The blog

Part 2 of a 2 part series

In my last blog post I shared my top 5 tips for how to style a bookcase! You can check it out here. This week I’m sharing the accessories you should ALWAYS have on your bookshelves! Again, don’t get caught up in my rules – think of them as ideas to help give you a foundation to build on. BUT as a design professional these are the items I love to include on just about any and every shelf!

Inspiration and tips on how to style a bookcase and what you should always have on your bookcase

What should you always have on your bookshelves?

1. You should always have Books on your bookshelves!

I know it may sound like a no-brainer but in the age of going paperless, you’d be surprised! Please, please, please always include books on your bookshelves. Even if you aren’t a huge reader, you can include beautiful books on subjects you’re interested in. Fashion, art, various countries and cities, animals…. you name it.

I love mixing coffee table books on subjects I love along with novels. I also love antique and vintage books….you can often pick these up at thrift stores and garage sales. Look for linen covers in pretty colors!

Books also help break up all the tchotchkes so your shelves don’t look cluttered. When I see styled bookcases with 80% accessories – it looks more like a Home Goods shelf than a curated bookcase. There’s a big difference between adding depth and texture and being cluttered.

Inspiration and tips on how to style a bookcase and what you should always have on your bookshelves penguin book collection
I love these books by Penguin Classics!

2. You should always have Sentimental Photos on your bookshelves!

Part of what makes a house “a home” is photos! Nothing could be more personal. They are moments of your life captured. Put them out! Now, I have seen both extremes. Some people only have frames and photos on their bookcase and that’s no good because it lacks texture and depth. But, I have also seen some people who think they can’t have photos out because it won’t look chic or styled. What?  This is your home! Balance is the key. You don’t want a bookcase full of photos but you don’t want a bookcase without any photos either. Your home is meant to bring you joy and what could bring more joy than special moments with the people and critters you love?

One other quick note – when placing photos – put them at eye level. You can cheat and go slightly above and slightly below but be aware that you can’t enjoy a 4×6 or 5×7 photo at 7-8ft up. It’s too tiny and you won’t be able to see it!

Inspiration and tips on how to style a bookcase and what you should always have on your bookshelves

3. You should always have Something Natural on your bookshelves!

Have at least one natural element. This could be coral, crystals and gemstones, or a piece of grape wood or driftwood. No matter what your style is, there is something natural out there that you can add. This helps ground any home…. Literally….it’s of the earth….For example, I am more glamorous in style so my home tends to have sparkly crystals but if your home tends to be beachy or traditional  maybe you have coral on your selves! If you tend to be more organic or masculine something in wood will do the trick! Again, don’t be afraid to mix natural elements elther! You can definitely have a few!

Inspiration and tips on how to style a bookcase and what you should always have on your bookshelves

4. You should always have Things You Love on your bookshelves!

I know this could maybe  be viewed as a cop-out BUT I do think it’s worth mentioning.  If you love vintage globes than by-golly have vintage globes on your shelf! If you love your grandmother’s antique jewelry box then include it! If you love the rocks and flowers (weeds) your son gives you from the park. Grab an apothecary jar, and fill it with his gifts, and place it proudly on your bookcase! Having a home that brings you joy isn’t just about everything looking styled and perfect! It’s about surrounding yourself with things that make your heart and eyeballs happy!! Sometimes that means pretty for pretty’s sake and sometime that means having things that warm your heart!

Inspiration and tips on how to style a bookcase and what you should always have on your bookshelves with vintage glass collection.

Bonus Tip – Need help finding budget friendly decor to fill the empty space?

I am all about Target and Home Goods. These stores are great for picking up items that are inexpensive and on trend. However, in places like this, you have to be careful! The prices can be so good that you end up going crazy and buying a bunch of “stuff” you don’t want, or worse, that doesn’t truly represent you and your style.

My tip is to go in with a game plan. Have a list or even photos of the types of items you are searching for. I tell my Thoughtful Nesting students to go into places like this armed with their Vibe Board, a shopping list, and measurements (if you are looking for items to fill your bookshelves then you need to know how deep and tall each shelf is). This way, they don’t end up buying items that won’t even fit. I also love thrift shops and little vintage shops. Not all vintage shops are budget friendly but they do exist.  Don’t forget to think about your bookcase when you travel! What little trinket could you pick up that would work on your bookcase while simultaneously reminding you of a fantastic trip!?

Lastly, I honestly believe in going slow. I prefer a bookcase full of items that tell your story over a bookcase that is full of whatever trendy accessories everyone else has. As in all things, balance is key. Fun accessories are a must and will represent your style, but don’t be afraid to slowly collect items on trips and/or throughout your life either. What should you always have on your bookshelves? You!



AHA Life| TJ Max | Goop | One Kings Lane | Amazon | Domino

Something Natural

West Elm | CB2 | Two’s Company | One Kings Lane


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