3 expert ways to organise your bookshelf like an interior stylist

Like reading the titles in someone’s book collection, what’s on your shelves reveals a little bit of you. Here, three stylists put their talents – and personalities – on display with a personal selection of objects and art

1. Well read by Catherine Wilkinson

Against a rich, russet backdrop, Catherine has combined a few of her favourite reads with objects in contrasting textures, shapes and colours. Touches of greenery finish the look.

+ Stack books from big to small or mix it up. I like to curate small piles of three or five books, which also makes it easier to read the spines and locate a book when you need it.
+ Spread out each styled placement and don’t put all the same textures or colours together. For example, give brass, wood and black tones room to breathe.
+ There are some beautiful containers you can put on display, so why not save drawer and cupboard space and place boring bits in lovely wooden boxes and vessels?

+ Bring a little life to your display with nature. I love trailing plants with delicate foliage. Choose plants that suit the amount of natural light the shelf receives – and don’t forget to water them!
+ Combining old and new items creates intrigue and interest. Pair heirloom trinkets with geometric or clean-lined designs or textures such as brass or oak.
+ If you want to store the kids’ toys in a basket on a low shelf, make sure the shelving unit is safely secured to the wall.
+ Place a small object on top of a pile of books to add some height where needed – it’s a charming way to bring everything together.

2. Minimal me by Vanessa Nouwens 

Being a minimalist, Vanessa loathes clutter and it is important to her that everything has a home, so this Muuto metal shelf in soft grey was ideal. “It suits my pared-back style and is big enough to store both practical and decorative elements,” she says. “The colour inspo for my shelfie was taken from the Vee Speers print ‘Thirteen, Untitled #11’. The gentle greys and soft whites in the print are echoed in the accessories, while wood brings in warmth and links back to the frame. The plants also pick up on the leaf detail in the artwork.”

+ Shelving serves practical and decorative purposes. I have a lot of design books and love to have them on display and to hand. These Muuto bookends help keep my collection in order, while also creating subtle design interest. I’ve mixed up arrangements by stacking some books vertically and others horizontally.
+ The success of a look relies on combining different elements in a pleasing configuration. Here, I’ve mixed glass, ceramics, paper, felt, wood and matte and shiny finishes. These contrasts create visual interest and real impact.
+ Group objects together in clusters or overlap them as I’ve done with the ceramic vases.
+ Small indoor plants and single stems look great when displayed with other items and bring nature to the space – from a single leaf to cascading foliage.

3. Tropical luxe by Emily Somerville-Ryan

Emily’s modestly sized shelving has a relaxed, summery feel – something you’d find in a tropical climate – with a touch of luxury. The moody strength of Resene ‘Blue Night’ creates a contrasting backdrop for the pale wood, greenery and textiles. Splashes of gold, soft pink, grey, olive green, velvet and wood combine to produce a focal point full of richness and texture that will reward the browser.

+ The key to keeping shelving simple and uncluttered, elegant yet uncontrived, is to include pieces you love that are also practical and functional. Cull to the minimum so there is no overcrowding.
+ Display favourite books and current magazines in a stylish magazine holder. Regularly edit your reads as trends change and your style evolves.

+ Place a sophisticated tray on one shelf to house hats, keys and loose change. Use a two-tiered tray for mobile phones and sunnies – you’ll always know where they are as you rush out the door in a hurry. A shelf that you can hang your bag from is a bonus if you want to keep all your essentials together.
+ A natural woven basket is the ideal home for all your wrapping paper, tape, tags, ribbon and scissors. Suddenly those hard-to-store rolls of gift wrap have become a pretty feature.
+ Choose stylish statement speakers that tie in with your colour scheme and style.

Styling by: Catherine Wilkinson, Vanessa Nouwens and Emily Somerville-Ryan. Photography by: Wendy Fenwick and Melanie Jenkins.

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