Étagère Bookcase Styling – Office Space

“Your home should tell the story of who YOU are and be a collection of what you LOVE.”

– Nate Berkus (Interior designer)

I found this quote on Pinterest and it resonated with me, so much so that I wanted to share it. Interior decorating is a form of art, and like art, it’s subjective. There is no right or wrong way to decorate a space. Whether you choose decor items out of love, inspiration or for their sentimental value, regardless of the reason, own it and embrace it. I choose to follow my own instincts, while loosely incorporating any applicable decor guidelines, and I hope you do too!

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I consider myself to be a pretty simple gal and if you’re anything like me, you had no clue what an étagère was until this blog post, am I right? During my hunt for an open bookcase for Hubby’s office, I landed on Kat’s Instagram account where she was showcasing a beautifully decorated bookcase. It was while trying to source similar bookcases that the word, étagère, popped up. Unlike traditional bookcases that were crafted to store heavier books and items, an étagère refers to a set of open shelves that are used for lighter storage and display. Its design allows for a space to maintain its open concept. Now that you’ve read my version of the definition, I’m sure it sounds like most decorative bookcases you’ve seen, and you’re right! You likely already own one too! You can always throw the word around if you ever want to sound a bit fancier! In this blog post, I’ll be taking you through my process for styling our étagère bookcase.

Step 1 – Blank Slate

Whenever I’m about to restyle a shelf or bookcase, I find it extremely helpful to remove all existing decor before starting. Having a blank slate removes distractions that could otherwise sabotage or hinder the new, restyled look you are trying to achieve. It simply allows for a smoother process.

step 2 – gather your decorative items

Having all my shelf decor gathered in one spot allows me to work seamlessly without having to stop for a scavenger hunt for any of my items. I’m also able to better assess whether or not all the individual pieces will create a cohesive look. While I consistently stay true to steps 1 and 2, the rest of my process usually varies depending on the particular shelves or bookcase I’m styling. I’m also keen on adding various heights, widths and textures to create more character and depth.

step 3 – greenery

Throughout this process of setting up Hubby’s office, I needed to remind myself many times that this was mainly HIS space! As such, it was important to me that he felt comfortable in this room. I wanted the choices I made to reflect his style. That being said, the man loves GREENERY and so I tried to incorporate as many as tastefully possible, without looking like a scene from Jumanji. Essentially the plants were the main course, while all other decor items were the side dishes. You’ll also notice I chose different textures for the vases and planters, i.e. ceramic, bamboo and glass. And if you’re wondering, yes these are all faux plants, even that tall beauty in the corner. We’ve tried the real plant route but sadly, neither one of us acquired a green thumb. I’ll happily settle for some pretty REAListic faux plants!

step 4 – metallics

Metallic decor is a great way to add more contrast to your shelf styling. I included gold and silver pieces with open designs to maintain a minimal look while keeping the focus on the bookcase. They also lend a masculine touch to the space.

step 5 – white decor

I bought this bookcase for its gorgeous brown color which, when contrasted against the black frame structure and details, is simple perfection! That being said, I chose to include a few more white decorative items because they are just so striking against the brown shelves. The composition of the brown, black and white works so well aesthetically, wouldn’t you agree?

step 6 – books

Books are highly recommended in shelf styling. They’re a great way to add both width and height. These are usually my last addition since I typically insert them either as shelf fillers or under smaller decor items to elevate them.

I was very intentional in the decor I selected for this bookcase. Each piece, while beautiful in its own right, served to emphasize the color and details of the bookcase.
I’d love to know your process for styling a shelf or bookcase. Are there any rules you like to follow?

Aminah Chung


5 Replies to “Étagère Bookcase Styling – Office Space”

  1. Where did you get the bookshelf? I love it! You’ve inspired me to redecorate our entry way at home! Love your style!

    • Yay Selena! It always warms my heart to know someone finds value or inspiration in my blog content and decor. The bookshelf is from overstock. Thanks so much for reading!

  2. This bookcase styling is so beautiful. I kinda dread bookshelf styling, but I’m starting to embrace the idea of designing using odd numbers. Books are my secret weapons too!

    • Thanks for reading Janice! I can understand the intimidation factor but as long as I take it one step as a time, I tend to manage fine. The most I’ve done is a 7 shelve bookcase and that one does take some trial and error.

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