Reader request – bookshelf vignettes

Posted on Fri, 23 Sep 2011 by KiM

Today’s reader request is from Eva in Toronto: I was wondering if you could perhaps provide some inspiration on how to decorate and style some build-in units in a main living space? I would love to see how others around the world have filled these spaces with treasures/books/objects d’art so that I can do the same in my home. Simple enough request, but sometimes quite a daunting task to get vignettes looking just right. I constantly change items on display in my house as I am never happy with them and get bored quick. Observing how others display objects can help us rethink how our own pieces are used. For example, I have a bunch of spray painted black vases (leftover from my wedding) on some shelving, and I took a wide/short vase and stuck 2 skinny/tall vases in it. I have a stack of about 8 books on the same shelving, standing upright with the tallest at the back and shortest at the front that way you get a peek at the cover of each book (seen here). Hopefully the following group of photos help to inspire Eva’s built-in displays.


all about you


Hus & Hem



Jen Fong

MH Studio



Freunde von Freunden


David Jimenez

Living Etc.

Domino Domino
vtwonen Lili Diallo
Katrine Martensen-Larsen RUM
Design*Sponge Decor Demon
Piet Boon The Selby
Freunde von Freunden The Selby

rooth says:

This is my favourite post this week! I love ALL these bookshelves!

brilliant…nothing like a goregous bookshelf. have a good weekend.

I would add Emily Henderson's portfolio to this list of inspiration ( She has an effortless style that comes off as both lived-in and intentional and has several examples of bookshelves you can look at.

There are also some helpful "rules" on how to arrange and experiment with styling here:

I think the most important thing to remember is to experiment, experiment, experiment!

peggy says:

Kim, I love this post! Thanks for so many examples. This is always a problem for me, I get bored quickly too. Add to that that I love beautiful things, but also love sparseness. My favorite display is the one by Jen Fong.

christa says:

Love that these look "real" and not staged. I've wanted to reorganize my bookshelves by color of book binding, but it took me 2 full days just to unpack all the books when I moved in. I don't have the will to redo them.

My bookshelves are grouped roughly by colour. It looks great. Also it's a nice idea to mix things up when displaying books and stack some horizontally too.

Eva (Toronto) says:

Thank you so much for meeting my request! It's so great to see so many different ways to impart personality onto those shelves. I am renewed with inspiration! Thank you also to Jen from insideways for the additional links. I'm off to experiment in my living room ; )

Maya says:

aww bookshelves!! Designers best friend! Love this post!

Awesome! Great inspiration!

Oh, fabulous post! I've linked it to mine today on bookshelves, for inspiration!

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