Unique Ways to Use Your Bookshelves

Unique Ways to Use Your Bookshelves

Posted by Impress Home Design On 2019 May 28th

Changing up the decor in your Vancouver home is always an experiment to a degree. It is a shame that the bookshelves are often left out of the fun. Shelves can actually become the focal point of a room, and the books that you put on those shelves can quickly gather attention. A bookshelf with no books can gather even more attention, which is what you may want (or not want)!

In some interior design layouts, experts will tell you that books on bookshelves are actually too BUSY! Interesting, but true. Let's take a look at how to decorate bookshelves without books.

Matching the Room

Feng shui (the Chinese way of organizing space in a way that lets energy flow through a room) demands balance in a room. If the room is relaxed and neutral, then the bookshelves cannot be overly busy. It can draw the energy of the room towards it in a skewed way. This may not seem like a big deal until you realize that once energy moves in a certain direction, the foot traffic moves that way as well. You may soon have carpet stains, scratches and dullness in a single corner of the room, making it look older and seperated from the rest of the layout.

You can change this and rebalance the room with a bit of ingenuity on your bookshelves. If you can replace the books in a relaxed room with a more relaxed group of shelving options, you give the entire room access to a greater narrative. Decorative books are actually a cool compromise in this case. You can use burlap covered books or books that have been painted over. Yes, you can read them, but that's not the primary purpose - they are there to serve as decor.

Open Shelving

One of the growing trends in modern interior design is the use of open shelves. They give a room more space and provide you an opportunity to show off some great looking room accents that also serve as conversation pieces. One of the hidden secrets of how to use open shelving is to visually divide that shelving into equal sections - both between shelves and within each shelf. Here is a template that you can always count on:

  1. Use at least two elements per shelf - Each shelf in an open shelf layout requires its own balance before it can be balanced with the other shelves that are in the design. Having two separate elements per shelf allows you to build a nice contrast within each shelf that can give a great look to the entire perspective. Experts will usually advise that the two elements within each shelf have elements that match and some that "move against" each other. For instance, if you are using a plant as the centerpiece of one element, use a steel basket for the other while matching the color scheme between the two.
  2. Use the same element on two different shelves - Instead of using the same element twice to try to "balance" a single shelf (which usually turns into a try-hard eyesore), use those matching elements on different shelves. Matching elements on a single shelf draw the eye too much, and not necessarily in a good way. You give the eye a reason to move across the entire design when you separate matching elements, drawing attention to the rest of the work that you have done.
  3. Divide your look into equal sections - You should be able to draw a straight line down your shelving to separate the items in them. In general, leave a bit of space between each item on a shelf so that you get some white space that separates items against the left wall from items against the right wall.
  4. Work with a tight color palette - The color palette of the items that are on your shelf should match the color palette of the entire room. Keeping to the example of our laid back living area with neutrals overlaid with blacks and browns, the accent items on the shelves should have the same general color scheme. You can accent with a bold color in some cases, but this is usually reserved for room arrangements that are trying to look ultra post-modern.
  5. Accent with texture, not color - Texture is the element that should serve as your primary accent, not color. Your laid back room with smooth leather and silk can be properly contrasted with shelving items of smooth or shiny copper, fluffy plants or hardwire baskets. You can also use age as an accent. Your shelving items can be a bit antique - some tarnish on these items adds character to the entire room, especially if you don't have the money to spend on handcrafted furniture.
  6. Bookends and magazine holders - Just because you don't fill your bookshelves with books does not mean that you cannot use bookends as accents! Put them back to back, or put a few hardcover books between them. Again, a bit of wear and tear or tarnish here may actually be a good thing. If you have a good looking steel magazine holder, placing it on your shelf empty or with a few books inside is a great way to show a natural, relaxed look in a room. Fill it up, and you may unknowingly give off an air of urgency. Your living area is not a college library where you go to cram for tomorrow's test - it is a place to relax!

Think of unique and interesting ways to use your bookshelves, and you will certainly add character to your room without seeming to try too hard. Your shelves can be a great way to give a room space, texture and depth without spending too much money. Be creative. Let those shelves flow with the embodiment of your innermost thoughts. Just don't let them become too busy, and don't try to stuff them full of everything you have ever thought!