How to Arrange Bookshelves

After years of assisting occupied homeowners  (where the homeowner is living in the home while on the market), I’ve come to learn that arranging bookshelves is in the top 5 most common questions asked. And with reason. Bookshelves can be daunting. However, with proper planning, they can be a breeze.

Before I go into the tip on how to arrange your bookshelves, here’s a before picture of a home we home staged in Atlanta last week:


Here’s how the room appeared after home staging:

Tips for arranging bookshelves:

  • Start with a clean slate.
  • Sort and place in a pile all “like” items together (i.e., books, photos, greenery, etc.)
  • Create balance. Start by placing an item on the left and then go to the other side and add something to the right.
  • Don’t over accessorize. This is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes made. As the saying goes; “less is more.” And in this case, it’s true.
  • Don’t believe that because you have 8 shelves, all 8 shelves must contain something. As you’ll see in the example above, the top two shelves were left empty.

Great items for bookshelves:

  • Greenery – these can be artificial or real.
  • Books – for a different look, instead of showing the spine of the book, turn it around. Another option is to group your books by color.
  • Photos – displaying photos is great if you’re living in the home. However, if selling, you’ll want to minimize (or not use any at all).
  • Artwork – In the case of the home above, you’ll see that I had opted for a piece of art on the right side, flanked with candles.
  • Statues – scaled appropriately, they add visual interest.
  • Candles – When used on a bookshelf, use extreme caution. Those in my own home are never lit.



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About Kathy Nielsen

This Atlanta Home Stager provides home staging services throughout metro Atlanta. With 8 years of home staging experience, Kathy Nielsen, owner and founder, makes the perfect choice for helping you to prepare your Atlanta home for the market. Connect with me on Google + Kathy Nielsen