• Cheryl Libutti

Eye Candy: Refreshed Bookcase.

Everyone struggles with bookcases: what to put in them, how to make them look balanced, how to incorporate personal pieces with decorative items, how to make them look not bare but not overstuffed, how many pictures vs. books vs. other collected items.

They are literally a blank canvas... and that's what's so tricky about them.

Based on how many pins come up when you search "bookcase styling" on Pinterest, everyone is looking for advice on what, exactly, to do with them.

(Shameless plug: I have a great Pretty Neat Pinterest board devoted to bookcases. Check it out.)

So as I was putting up my Christmas decorations, I looked critically at my own bookcases located in my living room. They are the focal point of the room... and filled with 5 year old pictures of my kids. Time to update.

So here are my before pics:

Yeah, not awful but not really styled right.


1. I love pewter and some of my collection is passed down from older relatives and some has been collected and gifted to me more recently. I wanted to condense it and display it more as a collection.

2. I knew my photos in the frames had to be edited down and updated.

3. I wanted to add some more decorative pieces.

4. I love adding greenery in the shelves and this project needed some greens.

5. I wanted to add some neutral colored texture. (baskets, grapevine balls, etc.)

6. I wanted to better hide the mismash of photo albums but still keep them accessible to look at.

7. And of course, I had very very very few books in my bookcase. I wanted to add some books.

8. I'm possibly going to paint this whole unit white someday (sigh!) so I wanted items that would work with that possibility. In the meantime, I wanted to add some white pieces to brighten and modernize the overall look and provide contrast.

I hit my favorite stores (HomeGoods, Pier 1, Hobby Lobby and Target) for inspiration.

After Christmas, with the creches and stockings and Little People sets that adorn this bookcase for December all put away, I cleaned off the shelves and went to work.

And ta-da! ... Here is the after:

Time: 3-4 hours shopping and 2 hours arranging and re-arranging

Total Cost: Approximately $200 for all the items and the prints

Garbage Bags Tossed: None. But I did relocate a few original items into my dining room hutch, which I also worked on refreshing, and put some items away for a summer garage sale.

Overall, I am VERY HAPPY with my final result. I love looking at my beautiful pictures of my kids and love the little vignettes on each shelf. I may add or move or change a piece here or there as time passes, but for me that's the fun of restyling: changing up the look, trying new combinations of pieces and seeing how it all shakes out. Just looking at these pictures makes me see some things I might switch around.

I definitely added the kinds of pieces, colors, and textures I was looking for and better hid the photo albums. To me the bookcases look more modern, more grown up and more finished. We are slowly evolving this space over time from a traditional style to a more casual, coastal feel and this was a great first step without being jarring.


1. A small investment can reap big rewards in restyling a space.

2. Make the places where you live pleasing to you. I spend most of my free time (when I get some) in this room, away from the television, and now I really love looking at the bookcases.

3. Texture, texture, texture is key when making a space feel more finished.

4. Honor the past and your collections. Put them in groups so they shine as a team.

5. Bookcases need books... and other stuff.

Do you have a bookcase that you struggle with and can never get looking "right"?

I'm here to help...and LOVE doing it!

#eyecandy #makeitpretty #bookcases

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