How To Decorate Built In Shelves In Living Room – We get many compliments on our built-ins, but we get even more questions about the process we use to design our built-ins. The truth is, we never stopped to discover the exact “formula” we use to style these shelves.
But when we finally did, we quickly discovered that we both use a similar strategy and have a few basic tips and tricks that we try to follow as we work and rework these shelves until they are “perfect”.
How To Decorate Built In Shelves In Living Room
So today it’s all about those tips and tricks for the dos and don’ts of built-in shelves (or any shelves).
These Amazing Built Ins Prove Custom Can Be Cost Effective
First step: remove everything from the shelves. We both always start decorating the built-ins by cleaning them completely… every time. As scary as it may seem to start over, it’s helpful for us to strip everything down and go slow (even if we’re just re-doing them for the new season).
Removing everything allows us to focus on one shelf without being distracted by all the other clutter. And putting all the items on the shelves helps us make a list of what we have.
It’s also nice to get these things off the shelves because we find that leaving things on the shelf gives us tunnel vision. We automatically think that this accessory should be paired with this accessory, and this often leads us to miss out on other combinations that work better together.
Oh, and it’s the best time to clean everything. This is my favorite wood cleaner (smells amazing) because it does.
Ways To Decorate And Style Your Bookcase
Built-in interior design takes a bit of time, so we recommend tackling this project when you’re not in a rush (or distracted). We actually enjoy the process of tinkering and rearranging our accessories until we find that “winning combination”, but we’ve realized that if we’re pressed for time or don’t like the mess that comes with pulling everything off the shelves, then ; the process quickly turns into stress. Take your time, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine), turn on the music and embrace the whole process… dirty floor and all.
We’re constantly “shopping our homes” looking for additions we already own that might look better on built-ins. You’d be surprised how often we steal these items from other rooms in our house and fall even more in love with them after seeing them in built-ins. This process usually occurs at the end of the finishing process. We decorate the shelves 90% of the time, then we move on to “something short” or “something golden” and so on.
New pieces, especially ones that you absolutely LOVE but feel like you don’t need to buy every new thing for your build-ins. Finding accessories around your home and bringing them to life by matching them with other items is half the fun for us. It’s a challenge we look forward to every time we rearrange our shelves. And if you’re shopping for new accessories, be sure to read this post first so you shop with intention.
Built-in shelves + books = ghost, right? We don’t like to overdo it in the book section, but adding some books is a must. They add color, texture, cheaply fill space and are perfect for adding height to some accessories. When designing these shelves, I chose to use all the books in neutral colors, but this is a personal preference. If you don’t have neutral books, you can always turn the backs to make them look neutral, but that’s a hot topic in the blogosphere lately (some people are clearly NOT fans.
How To Decorate A Bookshelf In 5 Easy Steps
If you only collect books to complement your built-in items, make sure you don’t spend too much money on these decorative items. We usually go to garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores, or even local libraries to buy ours. We expect to pay 50 cents on the dollar and that’s it. Hardbacks can be more expensive, so we’ll wait until we find the lower prices. And then we figure out what colors the book spines (and sometimes the titles) are to make them look good when we edit them. Don’t forget to take off the jackets too so you can see what colors the backs actually have.
We are not afraid to display the books we have already read, but sometimes we need more, it depends on the space. We also read a lot of our books on Kindle, so we don’t always buy new hardcovers.
You know we’re all about landscaping and built-in interior design is no exception. We both incorporate landscaping and are not afraid to use real or fake plants. When you mix the real stuff and the fake stuff, your guests will assume it’s all real… and we definitely agree. That will be our little secret. See all the B plants posted here? Only the lower right corner is genuine, the rest is fake.
Here is a list of houseplants I have around our house and how I keep them alive. If fakes are more your style, I recommend this jade plant or this trio of fake plants.
Gorgeous Rooms With Built In Bookcases
We do not recommend watering the greenery that is on the shelf, especially if your built-in elements are made of real wood. This is a lesson we learned the hard way… unfortunately. We recommend removing all the greenery, watering it, letting it dry and then putting it back on the shelf. This will ensure that you don’t have permanent water stains on your luxury shelves.
It’s all about mixing and matching vases, boxes, frames, books, plants and quirky accessories to create a layered look on our favorite shelves. You don’t want to decorate all the frames, but you also don’t want to decorate all the vases. Too much of something is not good, but a little of something is perfect.
And as you mix and match things, you also want to change the height of those elements. We usually like to group in threes (three elements together), but all three elements should have different heights. But if you like two vases together and they are too similar in height, add a couple of books under one of the vases and you’ve magically created different heights. Books are usually our secret weapon to increase height whenever possible.
Mixing and matching is the name of the game when designing built-ins. Matt jokes that some of the pieces I have on my builds (like this wooden arm I bought a few years ago) are so “weird,” but it’s those weird pieces that make the style interesting.
Shelf Styling Tips
So don’t be afraid to think outside the box and add something a little unusual or things that you don’t think necessarily ‘go together’. The more things are mixed and matched, the more layered the rack will look… and that’s a great thing.
You don’t have to fill all your shelves with family heirlooms, especially if those special pieces don’t suit your style. BUT, including
Your occasional additions of these pieces will not only look good, but will also make sense to you and your family. I added photos of Matt and I to this shelf (such fun memories) and also framed my favorite handwritten recipe from Grandma. These little details are so special to me and make me love decorating the shelves even more. This blog post offers some cheaper art ideas to fill your shelves.
It’s okay to buy accessories for your build-ins (I mean, let’s be honest, who can resist the awesome ready-made accessories at Target?). But not everything has to be from a big store. Some… of course!! All of them… not so much.
Renter Friendly Built In Bookcase Wall (with Argos Home) • Grillo Designs
Again, it’s okay to shop around the house, add pieces that are important to you and your family, and even save for some special items.
Gold Frame // Wooden Beads // My Favorite Candle // Jardinier // Gray Box // Wooden Tray // Picture Frames // Fake Plant Trio // Vases // Marble Booklets // Elegant Books
Here are our top tips and tricks for styling your favorite built-ins. The best advice we can offer is to embrace the process. Our built-in components are always up-to-date… and that’s okay (that’s actually the fun part). As long as you’re wearing your favorite mix-and-match look, then you’re doing it right, because there’s no “one” answer.
P.S. Do you want to make built-in elements yourself? You can see how we made them for our home office right here, plus more tips on how we styled them in this blog post.
How To Style Open Shelves: 3 Tips For An Uncluttered Look
I’m Casey Finn, the voice of The DIY Playbook. I am married to Finn and mum to Rory and Alice. Together we are creating our dream house in Chicago, a DIY project. Designing shelves looks so easy in our inspiration pictures.
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