Five Places to Style with Books

Books are a ubiquitous component of modern interior decorating. They're everywhere! And while they may not always be the star of the show, they play an important supporting role in creating a fully complete, layered look. Here are five areas of your home that will benefit from adding books.


Mantles look best layered with intentional variations in height. Usually, these variations in height create one or more triangles that are pleasing to the eye. Use mirrors, frames, plants, and candlesticks to get those different heights, and arrange them in a mostly symmetrical way. 


From @StyledwithBooks on Instagram:



Coffee tables and side tables

On coffee and side tables, books can be both functional and beautiful. Typically you will see 1-3 books stacked with an item that is organic or curved in shape and a plant. This seems to be the magic equation. Check out these two great examples below with 1- books, 2- curved/round objects, 3- plants.

AHouseWren used a curved planter and a magnifying glass. This is a great time to be a little quirky, and this juxtaposition of lines will work wonders for your styling.



From @oliveandmax on Instagram

OliveandMax used several curved elements next to their book stacks rather than on top of in this living room. The plants breathe life into this room, don't you think?


Entry tables, pianos, and sideboards

Entry tables, pianos, and sideboards can follow similar styling rules to coffee tables, but usually need some added height to help visually fill the wall behind them. Great items to use for height include vases with flowers, tall plants, and lamps. In both of the inspiration photos below, LittleJoyMarket and AHouseWren have also used stacked books to add a little more height to their objects, as well as hanging art low as part of the table styling.

From @littlejoymarket on Instagram

From @ahousewren on Instagram


In the Kitchen

Cookbooks in the kitchen are nothing new. To modernize the look, diversify the materials you are bringing in. In both pictures below, you'll see warm woods, white marble, and metals to breathe vitality into the kitchen.

From @oliveandmax on Instagram

From @StyledwithBooks on Instagram


On Your Shelves

Last but not least, your shelves! When styling your shelves, you have two options: a more traditional bookshelf approach, or a more stylized approach.

For a traditional bookshelf approach, showcase a large number of books with spines out. These shelves especially work because they've kept sets and similar colors of books generally together, while allowing for a few "out-of-place" colors throughout to add some fun.

 From @magical_manor on Instagram

Or, you can take a more stylized approach, using fewer books, strategic empty space, and other styling objects. When styling with books, always bring in curved lines to juxtapose against the straight lines of the books. Here, Shannon Tate Interiors strategically balanced straight and curved lines throughout the shelves.

From @Shannontateinteriors on Instagram

📷 by @michaelhunterphoto


Bonus! Two common styling mistakes to avoid.

I hope you're leaving here with some inspiration and formulas to follow as you style with books. Before you go, here are two common missteps to avoid:

1. Common Styling Mistake: Staying small scale.

Fix: Go with larger pieces that match the scale of the surface it is on. Fewer, larger pieces give more presence and feel grounded. When your surface is against a wall, remember to use taller items such as candlesticks, large florals and framed art, in addition to stacking books as a riser to lift other items.

2. Common Styling Mistake: Forgetting function. 

Fix: When styling tables, adjust the scale of your books so that there is still room for someone to put down their keys, coffee or remote. Round coasters can look great on top of your stack of books, and your guests and family will appreciate it too.


Thank you so much to these wonderful people for allowing me to share their beautiful spaces with you!

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