11 inspiring living room shelving ideas for spaces of all sizes

My relationship with my books is eternal. With their dog-eared pages and weathered covers, the books hold up well in our tech-saturated world. Every time I look at my little library, I revel in the literary journeys I have taken. That’s why I love exploring new living room shelving ideas for inspiration on how to organize these limited beauties.

As a rule of thumb, the advice for a stylish bookcase is: include one-third books, one-third home decor accessories, and one-third negative space. I learned this rule of thumb from interviewing countless interior designers. My opinion ? Go thugs. Let the shelves breathe or fill them until they overflow. Sure, you want to avoid clutter, but you can always play by your own rules. It’s invigorating to create on a clean palette – and in this case, your shelf is your canvas.

For inspiration, I scoured our Home Tour archives to see how some of the most design-savvy women we know style their shelves. Each of these shelving arrangements has personality and charm. They’re an invitation to mix colors and memories, mix different titles and genres, and find flea market finds alongside favorite authors.

So, to take advantage of Camille’s advice from her recent refresh the living room library: Create a great playlist, get creative, and breathe new life into your home with these 10 ideas from some of our favorite spaces.

Featured Image by michelle nash.

Picture by Nicole Ramsay

#1: Look up

Leave the care to Alex McCabe, the co-founder of the textile and interior decoration collection Kip&Co, to boast one of the classiest shelves ever. Everything about this setup, from the rich black industrial materials to the quirky art, impresses, but what’s particularly notable is the vertical scale. McCabe has capitalized on floor-to-ceiling real estate to display her beloved books and keepsakes.

picture by Danielle Sabol

#2: Go to the minimum

A handful of books. Several black collectibles. Three minimally framed works of art. This minimalist bookcase à la Ashley Robertson is a total dream. On the one hand, it proves that you don’t need much to create a conversation-worthy shelf. It also celebrates found beauty by allowing negative space to breathe.

Picture by Molly Culver

#3: Adopt the other side of the coin

Austin-based interior designer Emily Kunas has a knack for fusing colors and natural materials, as evidenced by her beautiful, airy ’70s condo. She also adds an unexpected twist to things: her bookshelf is of added interest with the spines of the books facing inwards. This look offers a layer of texture in natural tones.

Picture by Laura Alexander

#4: Let books take a back seat

That’s right. It’s a bookshelf, but it’s also a way to display anything you want, be it plants, art, even negative space. Consider adding just a few books to the shelf to make other rooms shine. Christina Cleveland nails this decor in her creative DIY-inspired Austin loft.

Picture by Belathee Photography

#5: Mix and Match

No rules are followed on Jennifer Vaughn Miller’s shelf, which is one of a million reasons to love her. The New York-based designer mixes sizes, genders and colors, even adding a few notebooks to her vertical library. The result is a look that’s as eclectic as it is accessible.

Picture by Ashlee Fox

#6: Stay neutral

We know that Anissa Zajac, co-founder of House Seven Design + Build, says to always follow a plan when it comes to interior design. For her own Indiana cottage, she sticks to the rule of letting neutrals and textures rule, which is so beautifully exemplified in her library. With minimal pounds and loose texture, this look is a study in the beauty of earthy accessories.

Picture by Teal Thomsen

#7: Scale Matters

There’s an undeniable ease inside Ashley Merrill’s home. Everything has its place and purpose, including that sliding ladder adorning the living room shelves. Backed by a rail that runs from one end of the radiant wall to the other, it provides easy access to the books and souvenirs displayed high up. Brilliant and stunning.

Photo by Michelle Nash.

#8: Color Coding

Grouping books by their cover colors is such an easy way to add instant dimension to a space. And when you incorporate the color-coded look into a taller shelf, it naturally draws the eye upward, creating a small living room seems bigger.

Imagician by michelle nash

#9: Duplex

Noticed and admired: Double-sized shelving that showcases varying amounts of books and collectibles, as seen in Camille’s cozy, neutral living room. These shelves come in different sizes while anchoring the space and providing ample room to display a mix of books, plants and other small home accessories, all of which can be changed and updated for quick access (and affordable). room refresh.

Picture by Belathee Photography

#10: Painted Shelves

Traditionally, shelving colors tend to be neutral wood, black or white. This makes sense, given that it’s usually the books and merchandise on display that grab the attention. But that’s not to say the shelf itself can’t take some of the spotlight, just like Megan O’Neill’s stunning sapphire blue shelves do here. A vibrant coat of paint seriously ups the ante.

#11: Crisp White

Along with the above about a brightly painted shelf, a row of sublimely white shelves will always do the decor trick to streamline a room. Here, the combination of the low-profile frame and snow whites ensures that color-coded books, magazines, plants and accessories are eye-catching.

What’s your favorite way to style your shelves? Share which of these ideas you can’t wait to try, stat!

About Sally Dominguez

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