Be they cluttered or empty, crammed or arranged with happenstance, our bookshelves seem to say a lot about us, and their omnipresence in every home reflects how important they are … and how easy they are to neglect.

Styling a bookshelf in your home breathes new energy into a space, creating an instant refresh. All it takes is a bit of thought and some shopping—preferably around your home.

Start by thinking about what purpose your shelves pose in their space. In an office, they may be used to store books and supplies; in a den or living area, they may serve a dual purpose: books and display. In a kitchen or a bathroom they serve as functional storage.

Once you’ve determined the best use for your shelves, clear and clean them creating a fresh slate. (No shame in the amount of dust behind those knickknacks and encyclopedias!)

For the first shelf styling, we chose a striking monochromatic theme. This can work in a variety of complementary colors. Here, white pops against the wood paneling, taking something that may seem dated and showing how handsome and classic dark walls truly can be. Gather and group like items such as: milk glass vases, white bound books, and even simple artwork.

Taking the like-item approach to the limit, we gathered plants once scattered through the house and created a living wall. Add texture with baskets—think of hanging one or two to create even more interest. Also important to think about when styling a shelf is dimension: Use multiple heights and mix sizes. This will help your shelves look natural instead of sterile. All of that greenery is truly a stunning display.

Open shelving is certainly on trend in kitchens, and a bookshelf can add style without a complete overhaul. Find handsome glass canisters to show off grains, coffee, and sugar. Think about a complementing color, and add a few subtle touches to tie the shelves into your room. Cookbooks, a coffee station, and fresh flowers complete the scene. Now everything you need to create a meal is at your fingertips, and looking great to boot.

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