How to Style Bookshelves for Fall

Today I’m sharing some simple design tips for how to style bookshelves for fall.

If you’ve been following along lately, then you know that the Fall Seasonal Simplicity series has begun.  We’ve already shared a fall recipe and a fall DIY/Craft project during the past couple of weeks.  Today is when my blogging friends and I share our fall mantel or vignette decor… and the last couple of years I’ve been thrilled to finally have an eye catching fall mantel to style and share. But this year the mantel was not going to be reading in time (I’ll explain more later), so I’m sharing my simple fall bookshelf styling tips instead!

How To Style Bookshelves For Fall Simple Design Tips graphic.

So, the mantel and fireplace are not ready because they are currently mid-paint project.

Um, what? Yes, you heard me correctly.

I started to have second thoughts about my summertime decision to keep our stone mantel at the cabin the existing pinkish/orange stone colour.  When I put it out to my Instagram followers to vote about whether I should whitewash/paint it or keep the stone natural, the result was an overwhelming YES! Eek! I had been hoping to avoid it, mainly because I’m tired of painting right now.  I feel like I’ve spent the majority of my leisure time since COVID painting (our forest house basement, the cabin, my parent’s new build…).

BUT, there’s no time like the present, right? And, since starting up back to teaching full-time mid-COVID wasn’t really enough life-stress, I figured that jumping right into refinishing the stone fireplace and mantel was a brilliant idea.  On a Monday night.

I can’t wait to share with you how the whitewashed fireplace turned out next week – well, frankly, it’s still mid-project and I’m crossing my fingers that it in fact does turn out at this point.  But, I’m keeping positive that it will be a fab refresh, and I’ll share our refreshed fireplace and fall mantel decor as part of my fall “home” tour next week (or in our case, fall “cabin” tour).  Until then, I decided to share how I styled our two narrow Hemnes bookshelves that flank either side of the TV area in our cabin great room.

These bookcases had actually been irritating me all summer because they just felt too darn busy.  Now that the fireplace stone right beside them is going whitewashed, it is making a big difference to the overall busy feel of this space.  I also simplified the decor and brought in a consistent colour scheme of light blues and greens mixed with natural wood tones and baskets.  Let’s see how this all evolved!

Tips for styling symmetrical bookshelves:

Symmetrical open bookshelves.

Focus on a colour/design scheme when selecting your items

I brought out all the fall things that I owned or that I had made and/or purchased.  Since the vast majority of my fall decor accidentally got packed at the very back of my extremely overstuffed 10×20 storage unit when we moved (how did that happen?!), it meant that I didn’t have a lot of decor items to work with.  I already owned the majority of the things you see on the shelves, aside from the pumpkins which I picked up at Walmart (and painted the blue ones with some blue chalk paint I had on hand).  Using evergreen decor (like all of the little faux plants) keeps the design from being overly “theme-y”.  The pretty leaf art is free prints that I shared in this post.

A side table full of succulents and mini white pumpkins.

Repeat a pattern on either side of the shelves

You can see that my styling is echoed on either side of the open shelves which makes things easier on the eye.  I also reversed the pattern so that the arrangement is like a mirror  image on either side of the shelf.

There is a leaf print, pumpkins, and a woven basket filled with plants on the shelves.

Up close picture of the leaf print in yellow and red, and the pumpkins on the shelf.

Try to group items in odd numbers 

It’s just visually more pleasing.  It’s not a hard and fast rule, but in general style things in odd groups.

I did go against this rule on the second shelf from the top where the oversized pumpkin didn’t allow for three items to sit comfortably, yet the pumpkin alone didn’t have enough height to carry the shelf independently.

The woven basket on the white shelf.

Which brings me to my third point…

Use varying heights

Each shelf with more than one item has something taller and something(s) shorter – this helps to fill the space for vertically and hortizontally but still leaves some white space, or breathing room, around your groupings.

There are open shelves in the living room.

A TV is on one of the shelves with lots of baskets underneath it.

Symmetrical open shelving in the TV room.

See it all come together, step by step…

It can be really simple, by following a few basic guidelines to turn display shelves from busy and cluttered to peaceful and pretty.  I hope you’ve found these ideas helpful for your fall home decorating projects this year.

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Simple Design Tips For Styling Bookshelves Flanking A TV graphic.


As I mentioned, today some of my blogging friends are sharing their fall mantel and vignette decor ideas. Be sure to visit their posts by clicking on the link below each image – I hope you enjoy all of this beautiful fall inspiration!

The Happy Housie ** Tatertots and Jello ** The Handmade Home

Modern Glam ** Taryn Whiteaker Designs

Craftberry Bush ** Cassie Bustamante ** Cherished Bliss

My Sweet Savannah ** The DIY Mommy

Amidst the Chaos ** She Gave it a Go ** Life is a Party

Clean & Scentsible ** This is Our Bliss

Finding Silver Pennies ** House by Hoff ** Rambling Renovators 

Jennifer Maune ** Maison de Cinq

This is Simplicite ** Lolly Jane ** Life is Better at Home **


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Beautiful Fall Mantel And Decor Ideas poster.


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  1. The shelves look so good Krista! I love the simplified palette and your styling is perfect! And I’m sorry to say, I’m one of the ones on IG who said to paint the fireplace (sorry!) But I can’t wait to see it all finished – I know it’s going to look great!


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