How to Decorate Bookshelves Farmhouse Style

Bookshelves lend distinction to any home. They are the perfect spot to display not just your book collection but also family mementos, photographs, knick-knacks, curios, and artwork. Try out these simple tricks and tips to put the farmhouse stamp on your shelves.

Start by Cleaning

To really make your bookshelves stand out, you first need to clean them. Get everything off and organize the items you removed according to type or style. For example, you could have piles of:

  • Beachy things, shells, sea glass, etc.
  • Family photos
  • Pottery or glassware, including vases
  • Seasonal items, ornaments, or candles
  • Woodsy things, dried flowers, branches, leaves, etc.

And of course, you should have a pile of books, too. You can further categorize your books by size, length, and even the color of the cover.

Choose a Color Scheme

What colors are prominent in your room? Do you have a farmhouse based on neutrals, such as gray or ivory? Do you have any prominent accent colors? Begin with what you have and build from there. Choose pieces from your piles that tone in with your room colors. A piece or two that contrasts with your accent color works well, also.

There are three places to think about color on your bookshelves. The first is the shelves themselves. You can go with a neutral or a bright accent color depending upon how much of a statement you want the shelves to be.

The second is the shelf backing. A contrasting color there is a stunning backdrop to your books. Another great idea is to cover the shelf backing with decorator paper. A lovely old-world design brings a touch of elegance to your farmhouse.

The third is the items you place on the shelves. You want a good mix of neutrals, accent colors, and a pop here and there of a contrast color. If you've chosen a bright color for the shelves or the backing, lean towards more neutrals here.

Mix In Some Surprises

To keep your shelves interesting, have a few unexpected items. This could be any of the following:

  • An unusually large book with a colorful spine
  • Mardi gras or theater masks
  • Small works of art in oil or pastel
  • Modern abstract sculptures or industrial pieces 
  • An interesting textile such as woven work, embroidery, or a small pillow

You can place one large, unusual piece on a shelf by itself or sprinkle two or three smaller ones throughout the bookshelves. For maximum impact, treat them like cayenne pepper. A little dash is enough.

Place the Big Stuff First

Are you displaying Grandma's antique pitcher? Great. Put it on a shelf first. Likewise any other large items. Then step back and look at the shelves. Do your eyes move naturally from item to item? Is there balance and harmony in the way they are arranged? If it feels like your eyes get stuck on a particular shelf, move things around and try again.

After you are happy with the placement of the large pieces, it's time to fill in the edges with smaller items. Remember to vary the height, width, and color. Put important pieces towards the front. You can layer from front to back to create more interest.

It's always fun to include one or two items that serve as a personal or family motto. This is a great way to announce who you are. Signage is very popular as are wooden block book stacks. Let your room be a reflection of your personality and what is important to you.

Don't Forget Texture

Texture is one of the most interesting aspects of any farmhouse room. Think of rope, sisal, wovens, metals, and brick. There are so many textures you can play with and include on your bookshelves. A row of books creates a flat space - break it up with uniquely shaped bookends.

The texture of the shelves plays a role here, too. You can have rustic wood shelves, industrial metal shelves, or antique shelves with a smooth patina. Whatever type you have, play against it with your books and keepsakes. Add contrasting textures to create variety and depth.

For more help with your farmhouse-style bookshelves, make Antique Farmhouse your primary stop. You'll find beautiful home decor items that will bring your farmhouse vision to life.


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