Most of us have them. Those bookcases filled with rows and rows of empty space. What can we display in them that won't make them feel cluttered? My answer is simple...less is more!
The key to styling a bookcase is balance and free space around the items. When I rearrange a bookcase for a client, the first thing I do is take everything down. I then categorize the items into like piles (picture frames, books, accessories, etc) and begin by putting in the books first. Larger, heavier books look best along the bottom. Turning them sideways, especially if they are tall, is a good way to break it up.
The next step is taking your larger items and placing those around to create a visual balance in each space. If the item is large enough to stand on its own, centered in the space, then let it. Then, begin to fill in with the smaller items. The bookcase pictured above is a great guide for how to arrange your books. Vertical, horizontal and even having some angled makes the bookcase not look so formal. I love stacking books to create a "riser" for smaller accessories.
You can never have too many picture frames. FALSE! I can't tell you how many times I've gone into a house and the bookcase is filled with hundreds of picture frames. The reason this is a big don't is that you have so many photos, you can't appreciate even one. My advice is to have a wide variety of sizes and designs, but change out your photos as your children grow. We don't have to see every school picture, of every child over the last 12 years. It's too much. OK, enough preaching about picture frames.
Another great piece of advice is to adjust your shelves. They don't all have to be at the same height. This creates interest and lets you use different size items. I love to see framed prints leaning in the back of a space, as pictured below.
My last piece of advice is to fill your bookcases with things you love. Let your bookcase tell your story. Pick up items when you travel so that when you see it, you remember those fun times. Don't be scared of your bookcase!