Bookshelf Decor Pieces: 7 Bookshelf Decorating Ideas - Bookshelf Memories

Bookshelf Decor Pieces: 7 Bookshelf Decorating Ideas

Bookshelves are the perfect spot to display mixed media collections. Every shelf is unique. You can style your shelves in any way that’s unique to you - tells your story, displays your collections of mementos in a stylish manner, and serves a functional purpose to store your books, and possibly preserve them - if you do it right.

In terms of what to use to decorate a bookshelf with, the only limitation is the dimensions you have to work with. For maximum visual appeal, vary the height and width of the bookshelf decor pieces. If you haven’t read our tips on decorating a bookshelf post, recommended is to read that because weight is a factor to prevent bookshelves sagging. In that respect, small decor accessories are a necessity on a bookshelf to lighten the weight. The added advantage is that you get a much more visually appealing bookshelf design.

7 Things that Make Terrific Bookshelf Decor Pieces

1. Mementos

mug from Budapest displayed alongside seashells
Mementos with strong emotional value should give you the tingles whenever you see them. These aren’t items to box away in the attic. Keep them on display on your bookshelves to give your mood an uplift any time you need it. Mementos can be anything. Large and small, but naturally, given the limitations of the dimensions of your shelves, the smaller items will be the obvious choices.

To keep items protected, consider framing them in either a picture frame or a shadow box frame. Picture frames can have photos, or small items such as baby mittens, or even shoes - just remove the glazing, or sit them on the shelves without any decorative frames. One of the best mementos for a bookshelf display would be a book nook kit that captures intrisic details of a country, such as our DIY Tokyo Alley book nook kit. The book sides act as a shadow box frame for all the miniatures (and LED lights) within it. 

2. Ceramics from around the world

Popular style of Japanese vase using the wabi-sabi style
Ceramics are popular worldwide, and you’ll find the designs can have some practical uses too. For tourists, ceramic sets can differ tremendously around the globe making them superb for souvenirs. For example, popular Japanese gifts are Tokoname-yaki / Japanese green tea sets that are made with unglazed clay to enhance taste. In India, popular types are the traditional terracotta, along with blue pottery and black pottery. Italy is renowned for its ceramic tableware that range from decorative plates to double-handled jars, and ceramic egg cups.

If you travel to any destination and use a travel itinerary, lay your itinerary flat on the bookshelf and stack a unique ceramic memento on top of it. It'll serve as a conversation starter piece with visitors.   

3. Stackable rocks

a cairn made from stacking rocks
Knowledgeable trekkers who frequent back country trails or those in managed National Parks may be familiar with stackable rocks, most commonly referred to as Cairns. On hiking trails, they’re navigational aids. If that’s news to you, if you ever come across a stack of rocks on your hiking adventures, do not disturb them. Others could get lost! As far as mementos go, this is a definite for backpackers and hikers. For bookshelf decor, you don’t want to use anything too heavy. Lightweight stones are what to use on shelves. Rather than find them and attempt to stack oddly shaped rocks, you can buy things like Zen stacks, or for a duo, there is a game called the Zen Stacking Stones Game. Use it as bookshelf decor when not in use, and use it as the game it is on game night.

4. Salvaged knick knacks

decorative finial made of driftwood
For something authentic, consider upcycling for unique decor pieces that’ll make your bookshelf stand out. Instead of typical apparel, think outside of the box and consider using salvaged wood items such as fence post finials like a pair of lion’s heads as bookends, or wood pyramid finials. A simple DIY project would be to make a wooden candle holder decor piece using twigs and string. Just be sure to trim the wood to be shorter than the candle so that the flame is always away from the wood.

5. Make and display something unique inside a miniature glass dome

a ship in a bottle with partial water

Glass domes are used to build terrariums, sometimes on the miniature level. You can buy glass domes in various sizes and use them to display any of your creations. Someone into origami (popular among Japanese crafts) could make a paper swan, or a rose to display inside a glass enclosure. If you’re up for a challenge, try your hand at making a ship in a bottle, either from a kit, or from scratch.

6. A mini dehumidifier or low-maintenance plant

open terrarium sat on top of stacked books with succulent plants besideit on a shelf display
Humidity can damage books. In the case of rare books, or those with precious sentimental value, it’s imperative to protect the paper and binding from excess heat moisture. Too much moisture in the air can lead to mold growth. Too strong a heat, glue can be damaged causing the bookbinding to come away. The National Library of Scotland (a country where temperatures and humidity fluctuate wildly) advise that temperatures in the rooms where books are stored be maintained between 60°F to 66°F, and the relative humidity kept a stable level of 45% to 60%.

You can buy small portable dehumidifiers, but they look anything but decorative. Just another appliance. Take advantage of nature and use a decorative plant. Just be sure it’s not a heavy feeder because plants release up to 97% of the water they taken in as vapor, raising the humidity. The smaller the plant, the better. Ideal plants for bookshelfs are cacti, fern and succulents.

7. Storage baskets or woven bowls

illustration of small rattan storage baskets in different colors
The best storage baskets for bookshelves are those that bring a change of texture. Anything woven, like seagrass baskets or rattan baskets are splendid choices. If you don’t fancy a box, preferring something round, consider a woven bowl instead. Some are multicolored with different patterns, others are au-naturale - the color of the original material without any dye-dipping. Both options give you something lightweight to pop on your bookshelf and hide all the little knick knacks you gather, such as Post-It note stacks, bookmarks, and many other literature gifts you receive on special occasions.