How to Decorate Bookshelves Without Books

Are you an avid reader wondering what to do with your beloved bookshelves once all the reading is done? Or perhaps you’re someone who doesn’t own any books but yearns for stylish bookcase decor? If so, then this blog post is perfect for you!

How to Decorate Bookshelves Without Books

Whether it’s due to a lack of storage space or if you simply want alternatives to stuffing your shelves with books, this blog post can provide some creative ideas on how to make those bare shelving units come alive with unique pieces that express your aesthetic. 

Here we’ll be exploring how to bring personality and character to those empty shelves without relying on a single book. We’ll discuss tips and creative ideas on how to decorate bookshelves without books. So grab some supplies, throw on your styling gloves, and get ready – it’s time to learn just how easy it is to spice up an empty shelf!

What Will You Need?

Before you start decorating, it’s important to have the right supplies. You may need additional items depending on what type of bookshelf you own. Here is a list of general items that can be used for any size shelf:

  1. Furniture paint (for painting shelves)
  2. Wallpaper or fabric for lining shelves
  3. Corkboards
  4. Picture frames and wall decor
  5. Candles, vases, and other decorative items
  6. Wood or metal brackets
  7. Baskets, boxes, and other storage containers
  8. LED light strips (optional)
  9. Mirror (optional)
  10. Greenery such as potted plants or succulents (optional).

Now that you have your supplies ready to go let’s get started on the fun part – decorating!

10 Easy Steps on How to Decorate Bookshelves Without Books

1. Paint Your Shelves:

An easy way to give a shelf an instant update is by painting it with furniture paint in a color that matches your decor. If you’re looking for a pop of color, try painting each shelf layer in a slightly different shade! Try adding a pattern with fabric or wallpaper for added interest, or use wood stain to create a more natural, rustic look.

2. Line Your Shelves:

Adding some wall lining to the back of your shelves is an easy way to make them look more stylish without spending too much money. Wallpaper or fabric can add texture and can also help to prevent items from slipping off the shelves. If you’re feeling creative, try making your own pattern by mixing and matching different wall coverings.

Adding Some Wall Lining

3. Add Some Cork Boards:

Cork boards are great for adding visual interest and being practical since they can be used for displaying photos or notes! They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so you’ll be sure to find one that fits your bookshelf perfectly. This is also a great way to make your shelves look more organized and put together.

4. Hang Picture Frames and Wall Décor:

Hanging picture frames or other wall décor is a great way to bring life to your shelves without books. You can find all sorts of unique items at thrift stores, flea markets, or even online sites like Etsy!

5. Add Candles, Vases, and Other Decorative Items:

Using candles, vases, and other small decorative pieces can help to give your shelves an extra touch of personality. Try adding some bright colors by opting for colored glassware or ceramic pieces in different shapes and sizes. Don’t be afraid to mix and match – the point is to have fun!

Using Candles and Vases

6. Use Wood or Metal Brackets:

Adding brackets made from wood or metal can add an industrial look while also providing support for heavier items. You can find plenty of options at hardware stores and online.

7. Utilize Baskets, Boxes, and Other Storage Containers:

If you want to add storage space to your shelves without having everything look cluttered, then baskets or boxes are a great option! Not only will they help keep things tidy but they also provide an attractive way to store items like books or magazines. It’s also a great way to add some texture and color to your shelves.

8. Add LED Light Strips (Optional):

Adding some LED light strips is a unique way to draw attention to your shelf! This is perfect if you have glass shelving units since the lights will reflect off the glass, creating a soft glow in the room. Additionally, you can create a serene atmosphere with the help of some scented candles or essential oils.

9. Hang a Mirror (Optional):

Hang a mirror on the wall behind your shelf to create an eye-catching feature and draw attention to your empty shelves. This is also great for making small spaces look bigger and adding a touch of glamour! If you’re feeling particularly creative, try adding a few picture frames around the mirror for extra interest.

10. Add Greenery (Optional):

Bring some nature indoors by adding potted plants or succulents on your shelves. Not only will this add color and texture, but it can also help purify the air in your home – a win-win! There are so many options when it comes to adding greenery in your home, so get creative and have fun!

By following these easy steps, you can decorate your bookshelves without having to add any books. With just a few simple supplies and some creative ideas, you’ll have beautiful shelves that will impress all of your guests!

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Hang wall art. Framed pictures, paintings, or prints can be hung on the walls behind your bookshelves to add visual interest.
  2. Use plants. Plants are a great way to add texture and color without taking up a lot of space. Try potted plants, hanging planters, or even just some decorative vines to spruce up your shelves.
  3. Place sculptures or figurines. Small sculptures and figurines can be used as accents on the bookshelves for an interesting display.
  4. Display collectibles. If you have any special collections that you want to show off, try displaying them on your bookshelves for all to see!
  5. Add in natural elements. You can use natural elements such as sea shells, stones, dried flowers, branches, etc., as decorations for your shelves to add visual interest and texture.
Hang Wall Art

No matter what you choose to do, make sure that the items on your bookshelves are arranged and displayed in a way that pleases you. Happy decorating!

5 Things You Should Avoid

  1. Overcrowding. Too many items on the shelves can make it look cluttered and disorganized, so make sure to keep it minimalistic.
  2. Not using any color or texture. The bookshelves should add something visually interesting to the room, so be sure to include some visual elements.
  3. Using too much of one type of item. For example, if you use a lot of plants, try mixing in different textures and colors as well.
  4. Cluttering up the shelves with all of your books. While you may want to show off your book collection, having too many books on display can take away from the overall aesthetic of the shelves.
  5. Ignoring symmetry or balance when arranging items. Make sure that the items on your shelves are evenly spaced out and create a symmetrical look.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to decorate your bookshelves without books and have them looking gorgeous in no time!

5 Different Theme Ideas

  1. Rustic: Use natural elements such as wood, stones, and branches to create a rustic feel. You can add in some wicker baskets for storage and some potted plants as accents.
  2. Industrial: Use metals and neutrals to create an industrial look on your shelves. Try displaying items like clocks and other vintage pieces to give it an edgy vibe.
  3. Modern: For a modern look, go for sleek geometric shapes or minimalist designs with clean lines. Mix in glassware and vases for a chic display.
  4. Artistic: Incorporate art-inspired pieces like framed prints or sculptures onto your shelves to create an artistic look that speaks of your personal style.
  5. Eclectic: Go for a mix-and-match approach with your shelves, combining various elements such as plants, figurines, and collectibles to create an eclectic display.
Use Natural Elements Such as Wood

Remember to stay true to your style and have fun with it no matter which theme you choose!


Decorating bookshelves doesn’t have to mean filling them with anything but books. You can spruce up your shelf with a few simple strategies without overwhelming it. Whether it’s displaying artwork, arranging interesting objects, or accessorizing your shelf with plants and other items – the possibilities are endless!

Decorating your bookshelf shouldn’t be stressful. Enjoy playing around until you find your favorite style that reflects the rest of your home decor. Show off what makes you unique and create a cozy little nook you can proudly display in your living space.

Whether picking up an unexpected knick-knack or creating a gallery wall – getting creative is the key to making shelves both beautiful and smart storage solutions for every room in your home. Hopefully, the article on how to decorate bookshelves without books has given you some ideas and inspiration to get started. Good luck!

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