How to Style Your Bookshelves Like a Pro

Decorating bookshelves can be daunting. Designer Annalies Richmond offers some pro tips to make it easier.  

Bookshelves are blank canvases filled with opportunities to showcase your personality and style. We sat down with local interior designer Annalies Richmond of Richmond Interiors (@richmond.interiors on Instagram) to learn her tips and tricks for creating a bookshelf that will stand out in any room.   

Color Coordinate 

“Instead of transitioning [your books] as a full rainbow, like you’d see maybe in ‘The Home Edit,’” Richmond says, “[break] it up and pair colors that nicely complement each other together.” This is a great way for avid readers to show off their larger book collections in an aesthetically pleasing way. For example, she says black, white and gray books pair nicely, or pinks, purples and blues.  

One trend Richmond doesn’t love is turning books’ spines inward. She says it’s less practical and leaves an impression that these books aren’t getting read. “It’s always good to fake it a little bit, like maybe you do read these vintage historical books,” she says. 



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 Personalize it

You can make your bookshelf your own by incorporating things that are important to you throughout, like a family heirloom. Richmond loves tucking a framed photo or piece of art into shelves. “It’s a little bit more unexpected … and it fills the space,” she says. 

Another way to personalize your shelves is to throw in some plants. Richmond says it’s up to you whether you want to brave real plants or opt for fake, but either way they liven up the space.  

Create Balance  

Richmond says a good balance of color and height is important. “Make sure that you’re filling the bookshelves visually, but not necessarily cramming them full of things,” she says. “Just play with height and proportion a little bit to get some good, visual movement throughout the case.”  

One way Richmond varies height on bookshelves is by placing an object on top of one or two books, arranged horizontally to serve as a makeshift pedestal. Choose larger coffee table books if you want more of a surface to work with. 

Favorite Fillers 

A bust or figurine 

Plants (real or fake)

Framed photographs or art



Decorative bookends


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s March issue.

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Brianna Schubert is the associate digital editor and writes about art, culture and more at Milwaukee Magazine. When she’s not writing/editing, she’s likely reading (follow her book reviews on Instagram at @read_with_bee), cooking or listening to Taylor Swift.