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Bookshelves are a handy place to store items but overtime, you may cram in things until left with a cluttered, unsightly display. These areas can show off what you read, collect and adore. Instead of viewing bookshelves as mere storage space, create something that’s not only functional but beautiful. Here are some ways how.

First look at your placement of books:

  • Who said you had to stay vertical? Stack a few bunches horizontally. Get funky with some piles and move each book slightly to create a spiral effect. You can tinker with groupings, sandwiching a horizontal pile between two vertical ones. Or designate certain shelves to all one orientation. The possibilities are endless.
  • Feeling artsy? Embrace your inner Roy G. Biv and try sorting them by color.
  • Highlight especially striking novels and face out some of your favorite covers.
  • Mix up their sizes, from small reading books to larger photo albums.
  • Use magazine holders to contain items, or chunk sections with bookends.

Now that your reading materials are in check, focus on other beautifying elements:

  • Scour your house for decorative objects. Anything’s up for grabs: frames, mirrors, trays, eye-catching bowls or boxes. Have any souvenirs from that trip to Spain last summer? Perfect. Here’s where you can really personalize it. Don’t be afraid to put some at an angle for an effortless feel. Some can overlap, placed in front of books or on top of stacks.
  • Create height with tall vases or jars, adding visual interest and filling out shelves. Make sure to even things out by distributing these larger pieces throughout.
  • Utilize baskets. They’re a great way to hide things that need storing, not displaying.
  • Organic materials bring life to the space, such as geode rocks, coral and small potted plants. Try to include objects diverse in textures, styles and tones, but that remain within a general color palette.
  • Odd-numbered groupings tend to look more aesthetically pleasing. Try placements of three or five, incorporating different sizes and heights.
  • Artwork isn’t just for over the fireplace! If you have room, prop up pieces on the shelf or hang others above for added dimension.

All in all, there’s no right or way to do things. Have fun with the process and land on an arrangement that’s attractive and functional for you.

The name of the game is experiment. Keep playing around, adding and subtracting items until things feel balanced. Once in a while, take a step back to look at the bookshelf as a whole. Feel free to leave it alone and come back the next day with fresh eyes.

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