7 tips to style your shelves like a professional

The shelfie seems to be becoming a thing. So I thought I’d share some styling tips.

I’ve drafted in Alexia Kaye, a London stylist, who is the Queen of putting together beautiful vignettes and she styles bookcases to perfection.

All of the images below either feature on Alexia’s gorgeous Instagram feed @the_finishing_touches or have been taken by photographer Aimie Sullivan.



So Alexia’s top shelf styling tips are:

1. Use variations of book placement – Try a mix of horizontal and vertical arrangements. You can do this on one shelf, or randomly throughout so that when you step back and look at the shelves as a whole you can see a variety of shapes and heights. I also like the idea of stacking books horizontally (not too high) and then placing an item on top of the stack, such as a piece of coral.


2. Not just books – Bookshelves don’t just have to be about books. Try using decorative objects such as bowls, ornaments, plates, glass domes, picture frames etc. This helps to break everything up, which I consider to be a key component of attractive shelving.

3. Personal – I think it is nice for your shelves to tell a story, a bit about the person behind them – and not just with photos. Whether it be a sentimental object from your childhood, a souvenir you picked up on your travels, or a display of something you collect such as corkscrews or even matchboxes. Essentially, something to tell those viewing it a bit about who you are: a few monogrammed items, a favourite scent in a candle or diffuser, or a large letter of your initial, perhaps.


4. Colour – I think books organised by colour look stunning. Unfortunately I don’t yet own enough to implement this in my home, but I often arrange small vignettes on the shelves which are colour co­ordinated. I try and include a variety of objects for these such as vintage glass bottles, framed butterflies and some coffee table books.

5. Old and new – This tip kind of ties in with number 3. I like to display some vintage items as well as new. I have vintage glass medicine bottles, vintage foo dog bookends and a vintage pineapple from the 70’s. This look is present throughout my whole home as I like vintage items that tell a story and I think they look great mixed with new pieces. If everything on display is new then I think you run the risk of having a look similar to everyone else.



6. Natural – A lot of my favorite bookshelves showcase organic materials. I have some antlers, a purple crystal stone as well as some coral displayed on mine. Flowers and plants also work really well. Just make sure the objects fit in with your taste and style.

7. Art – Definitely incorporate artwork into your shelf scheme. Art is personal (see tip 3) and can tell lots about who you are. A small framed print or some framed photography is great. A cheap way to do this is to frame postcards or greetings cards, this can have a great effect.


As a final tip, Alexia says: “I believe that bookshelves should be beautiful as well as functional. Therefore, I try to keep mine clutter free, with space around each item so that everything stands out and nothing is lost.”

If you’re feeling inspired to restyle your shelves and storage spaces, I would love to hear all about it. Huge thanks to Alexia and if you’d like to see more of her beautiful styling, follow her on Instagram at @the_finishing_touches.