Bookshelves tend to be a “one and done” project. Meaning, once you’ve arranged the books, objets d’art, and the occasional photo, it’s likely that you won’t be refreshing it anytime soon. However, this is one area of your home that can have a big impact when updated. A bookcase is roughly the height of a wall, making it a focal point. However, like the art on a wall, the eye can become used to seeing the same sights over time. Shaking up the same-old can have an immediate effect, and besides, each shelf has plenty of space, providing ample opportunities to come up with new configurations of books and other items. Looking to give your shelves a new look? Here are our six favorite types of accessories that will refresh a bookshelf:


One to try: C. Vallo Acoma Pottery Vase

A vase is typically limited to tables and sideboards, where the open “overhead” space won’t encroach on an arrangement (or the tall proportions of a vase). However, low vases can work on a bookshelf, which creates a shadowbox effect that draws the eye to the piece, particularly if the exterior has intricate details, like the above.


One to try: Ralph Lauren Home Jacqueline Jewelry Box

A beautiful box is the most stylish way to hide small odds and ends. There’s a practical factor in placing one on a bookshelf: Guests are less likely to let curiosity get the best of them and lift the lid. The negative space around a box also highlights its shape, adding interest to the arrangement of items within the space.


One to try: Antique 1920s Painted Metal Le Penseur Bookends

Of course, bookends are a classic accessory for a bookshelf. You can pair them on either side of a row of books, split them up to draw the eye around the different shelves, or place particularly sculptural bookends atop a small stack of books.

Framed Art

One to try: “Modern Sunrise” by Takesada Matsutani

A commonly overlooked space to hang art is on a bookcase, especially if you have a whole wall of built-ins. Small pieces can go on the shelf, but larger works can hang between shelves.

Decorative Bowls

One to try: Antique Japanese Blue and White Porcelain Hibachi

Like a vase, bowls are normally limited to the tables, sideboards, or countertops in a home, but can nicely draw the eye when displayed on a shelf.

Natural Elements

One to try: Avana African Green Is Cool Coconut Container

Minerals, fossils, botanical specimens, coral, sea shells, dried gourds, driftwood, and even an artful coconut like the one above (created by artists in West Africa), add the unexpected to a shelf.


Leave a comment