Bookshelves don't have to look stuffy, cramped, and dusty anymore–today, many modern bookshelf decor ideas can help you showcase your favorite titles while adding a touch of style to your space. Whether your bookshelf is in your living room for all to see, in your home office stacked with industry-related readings, or safe and snug in the corner of your finished basement, you can level up its look and bring a crisp, clean feel to the staple piece of furniture.

Once, bookshelves seemed all the same—rigid furniture structures with a number of horizontal shelves. More than anything, they served a purpose; to hold books and paper files without much flare. Aside from color or number of shelves, all bookshelves were strictly functional and minimally aesthetic.

Today, it's time to clear out those shelves, evaluate your bookshelf to see if it meets your current interior design scheme, and learn how you can choose both modern pieces instead of the classic boxy form, and add decor to bring your bookshelf to life.

Keep reading to learn more about other ways bookshelves can provide greater functionality to your home, examples of modern styles to choose from if you want to buy a new piece, and some tips and tricks to decorate your bookshelf while still displaying your favorite literary works. We'll also review how to organize and maintain modern bookshelves to ensure they stay on-trend and last for years.

The Purpose and Functionality of Bookshelves

The name says it all–the function and purpose of these shelving units is primarily to hold books. They're a great way to nearly organize your favorite titles, reducing clutter by providing each book with a home. Instead of piling titles up on side tables, media consoles, or nightstands, your bookshelf keeps everything nice and tidy.

Bookshelves are a convenient method of storage that you can use virtually anywhere. Some use them to store DVDs or video games, ensuring each item remains easy to reach in a place where you'll always know where to look.

Aside from the storage perks, modern bookshelves can serve as an element of home decor. Find a bookshelf that matches your house's color scheme and design style. If you love traditional items, a bookshelf with curved edges, dovetail feet, and ornate carvings will complement your space well.

Those with distressed wood finishes complement modern farmhouse vibes, and mixed-medium bookshelves that feature metal elements with natural wood are great for industrial, modernized spaces. There's also the choice of various shelving options. Modern bookshelves can feature cabinets and drawers to stash items you want out of sight, but still close at hand, and funky geometric shelf designs add an eclectic feel to the space.

Additionally, you can use your bookshelf to do more than store books, files, DVDs, and video games. Not only can the unit itself add to your home's decor, but there are countless ways to decorate the piece even further to elevate its look.

How to Choose the Right Modern Bookshelf

A few helpful tips will help you know what modern bookshelf to choose for your space. First, consider the general theme of the rest of the area. You want complementary or neutral colors, matching textures, and a size that doesn't look disproportionate to the rest of the room.

After you've decided what you want the bookshelf to look like, it's important to consider what functions you want the piece of furniture to serve. Do you also want cabinets and drawers for extra hidden storage? Would you like the bookshelf to look more artsy and feature geometric shapes and lines? Maybe you're still looking for something to display books in a classic way–this is great and will help you narrow down your options.

Size-wise, remember that there should be 4 to 6 inches of space between the bookshelf, the wall, and any side-flanking furniture like a desk. Additionally, if it's in a high-traffic area, ensure at least three feet of clearance on the floor to leave enough room for walking.

Other things to consider are whether you'd like the option of adjustable shelves, which are helpful when displaying items of varying sizes. Some modern bookshelves have open backs, which differs significantly from traditional bookcases of years past. This can be an excellent option if you place the unit against an interesting backdrop, like exposed wood or brick.

Some bookshelves also come with recessed lighting, allowing you to showcase pieces you love, like small statues, diplomas, and art. This helps the bookshelf make even more of a statement and draws attention to the things most important to you.

How to Style Your Modern Bookshelf

There are countless ways to style your new bookshelf. Of course, keep all your favorite books on display. But to create a more modern, open feel, you can create custom designs with your shelving decor that make the look you. This provides the perfect opportunity to retain the function and purpose of the timeless piece of furniture but helps you bring it into the now.

It also allows you to re-decorate at your wish, keeping the bookshelf decor current with your interests, stage of life, and more.

Tips and Tricks for Bookshelf Decor

Our experts say these tips and tricks are some of the best ways to decorate your bookshelf and show off your favorite authors. Leave open space on the unit to allow all your prized items to breathe. This also helps visitors and guests view the unit more easily, as it calms the eye.

First, bring in decorative accents like faux greenery or house plants. Elements of art, like tabletop accents and statues, photography, family mementos, and more, make the bookshelf you. Some people like to showcase awards, accolades, and diplomas. Others want to place family photos, keepsake boxes, or even a prized signed baseball are great to put on display in a neat and orderly fashion.

The key to bringing these decor items to your bookshelf is to leave space and breathing room and follow a few design rules. It's important to create balance and symmetry on the shelves–don't stack all your decor on one shelf or even all on one side of the unit. Space it throughout, drawing attention to specific visual points to display the pieces best. As discussed above, picking a bookshelf with recessed or up-lighting is a great way to make these visual points pop even more.

Maintenance & Organization Tips

Maintaining the look of your bookshelf is easy. Make sure you dust it regularly, as well as the items on display. Depending on the construction material, you may be able to rub it down with certain wood-shining products.

If you want, change out any pictures or decor with the season or as you add to your family and the kids grow up. When it comes to organization, there are a few ways to go, and it comes down to your preference. Some people like to arrange their books by size, while others like to do so based on the color of the cover. Still, some want to organize the shelves alphabetically by either title or author's name. Whichever organization technique appeals to you is another way to personalize your new piece of furniture while keeping everything in proper order.

Get your imagination going and design the modern bookshelf of your dreams today.

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About Our Blog

When it comes to home decor inspiration, we think our shoppers have the best ideas! We have a passion for the unique and beautiful - whether it's decor, food, or furnishings. You'll find simple, inspired ideas to enhance your home and excite your family from real Old Time Pottery fans. Browse all of the looks from Instagram and Pinterest to others' #otpstyle, and use the hashtag to show off your own styles.