Book Shelves – A DIY Makeover

Every so often things need to get changed up in my house.

Home decorating with books

Found that white crate in the trash and hung it on the wall. Makes the perfect shelf. Never underestimate the power of trash in home decor.

They also really need to be cleaned, because when I leave all the dusting to my ten year-old daughter, places get overlooked.  Sometimes entire bookcases get overlooked, for a long time.

vintage paperweight

I am quite proficient at procrastination though, and I can almost always find something better to do; however, my daughter got strep throat one weekend in October and we were trapped in the house and guarded by the germ police.  It was good a time as any, to clean up the living room.

Snow Globe from Saks Fifth Avenue & kid art on Bookshelf redesign

If you’ve never seen our living room renovation, click HERE.

Vintage Owl on The Hunger Game series

In nearly every magazine I pick up, there are perfectly staged bookshelves.  I always admire them.  Then I look on Pinterest and see more beauty – some shelves are organized by color, others are filled with cute, well-placed trinkets, and still more are light on books and heavy on design.

bookcases DIY

We have a lot of books, hence the reason FringeMan built us some ginormous shelves.  So, how does one go about creating well-styled book shelves with each item purposefully placed?

I haven’t got a clue, so I’ll just pretend I know exactly what I am talking about.

Bookshelves styled with kid's art

I try to vary heights, items, stacks of books, etc.  Then I throw in a few novelty items for good measure.

By the way, notice all our wires?  We have a serious wire problem…like too many!  That’s how it is when you are married to an electrician.  Your house is always the last to be finished.

Owl Planter from Target and Children's Illustrated Classics

All in all, I would say it’s an improvement.  At least the dust is gone, and that’s half the battle.

These are my best tips to create interest in your bookshelves.  Remember, I am not an expert.  I am making this stuff up as I go along.

Empty Shelves:

There’s nothing like working with a clean slate, so empty your shelves and start from scratch.  It may seem like a waste of time, but it actually forces you to go through each item.

You may be surprised to find things you fell out of love with and are willing to donate.

Sort Books:

Some sort by color, others by height, but I like to sort my books by author.  It drives me crazy when one book in a series is on one shelf and the other book is on another shelf.

I don’t think it really matters how you sort them, but use logic that makes you happy and coordinate your books according to that logic.

Vary Stacks:

I think it’s a good idea to vary the stacks of books on your shelves.  Place some stacks horizontally and others vertically.  It may take a little maneuvering, but you’ll find a method that works for your books and shelves.

Add Art:

Use home-made art.  Maybe you birthed a budding artist.  Try displaying their work intermittently placed between or in front of stack of books.

Better yet, add some art that you made!

Now don’t freak out if are a left brain thinker and completely anti-craft/anti-glue gun.  There is plenty of affordable art on Etsy.  Find something you love and display another person’s art.

Empty Spaces:

Don’t be afraid of empty spaces.  Sometimes blank spots drive us crazy.  They can be like too quiet houses, but sometimes it’s in the quiet that inspiration strikes, so embrace the empty spaces and allow your home to develop over time.

Reflect You:

I’m not a fan of store bought rooms.  Do you know the kind?

They are spaces that reflect a furniture store or Wally World more than they reflect the people living in the house.  I adore it when someone’s home looks like them.  Everything oozes personality and draws you right in.

Allow your space to reflect you.  Who cares if it’s not magazine worthy.  Most of us don’t have any desire to be in Better Homes and Gardens.

Use things that are a reflection of you.  I guarantee they will be unique and you will love them.

Remember, I am not an expert.  Just look at my own bookshelves, but these are things I keep in my mind when I am reworking spaces in my home.

So tell me, how do you do it?  Do you just throw all your books on the shelf or do you try and make them all look pretty, like the magazines?


  1. says

    I remember seeing one of these home decorating shows, where the family was sent away and redid the room. The decorator arranged their books by color. It was pretty and they were horrified. I like how yours look!

  2. says

    I knew I liked you… but, I’m not sure whether I LOVE you more because of All The Books or because I spied a stack of old school Nancy Drew hardcovers in there. Shared on Pinterest – this one was uber creative and helpful to this book lover!

  3. says

    I love that first picture – I can’t believe you found that in the trash! I love the way you decided to hang it – I would not have thought of that. Very creative and it looks awesome!

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