James Treble: How to Style your Bookshelf

Shelves - hero

Spring organisation. All the sighs. We love the idea, but the practice takes a little prompting. Books on the other hand are totally divine. We like them every which way – and they’re perfect for procrastination! 🙂 

In the spirit of spring-cleaning, we asked celebrity designer James Treble just how we should style our home-grown library…

From L to R: Marten Bookshelf, Ludvika Bookshelf, and Broadway Bookshelf, available online at Zanui.

Chick-lit. Cookbooks. True crime. Coffee-table tomes. Craft how-tos. And old-school novels. We’re infatuated with the possibilities of books. So many worlds contained within their papery covers. Consequently much of the wall-space chez nous is disappearing behind piles and piles of these beauties.

Enter the bookshelf. Friend to bookworms everywhere. Stylish. Adaptable. And elegant. This humble figure offers untapped opportunities for accenting your décor. We asked one of our favourite design experts James Treble for his advice.

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Ordered and disordered. We like both looks. Images sourced L to R: bloglovin.com and quartoesala.etc.br.

“Between my partner and I, we could open a bookshop,” James says. “But even if you have a small collection of books, bookshelves are far more than just books storage. Here are my top 5 tips to get it right.”

Tip One: Mix It Up

JT says, “I love a mixture of book placement. Try using similar sized books vertically and then larger books placed horizontally to create some interest, they can be in straight lines or a sort of pyramid look can also work well.”

This breaks up the monotony and creates its own rhythmic cadence in your designscape.

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Images sourced L to R: homedit.com and buzzfeed.com

Tip Two: Add Art

JT says, “Artwork mixed in with your books and objects also makes a statement. Small works in frames or large stand-alone pieces. Or group together photos to create a nice layered effect.”

Think of carrying through some of the colours – match the spines of the books to the palette of your chosen objet d’art.

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Such a cute idea. A book nook. Images sourced: buzzfeed.com

Tip Three: Play with Placement

JT says, “Placing books in colours can be very effective. Grouping together by colour instead of subject may make them harder to find, but they will look amazing.”

Think of the colour contrasts that you are bringing together for added vibrance.

Tip Four: Bend The Lines

JT says, “ObjectsVasescollectables, holiday memories are perfect for breaking up the straight lines in bookshelves. Organic shapes work really well as round forms will break up the otherwise linear effect of all those books and shelves.”

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Innovative DIY bookcases. Think outside the square. Images sourced: buzzfeed.com


JT says, “Creating balance in your bookshelves is important to make them feel inviting and calming in the space. Try having vertical books then an object in one row, then some small frames and horizontal books in the next, and so on. By mixing up the flow of each shelf they will be more interesting to the eye as well as more harmonious to live with.”


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Images sourced: buzzfeed.com

Ideal. I think some bookshopping is now in order, don’t you? It would be positively rude not to. Thanks, JT!!

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.