How to Style and Stage Bookshelves

stage bookshelves

Knowing how to style and stage bookshelves when selling your home is a challenge for many homeowners. When they’re overflowing or crammed too tightly (as many of them are), they give the impression that there’s a lack of space. (As a bookworm myself, I know what a huge challenge this can be! But remember, it’s only temporary while your home is on the market.) When you’re preparing your home for a successful sale, you want potential buyers to see how much space you have to offer. Use our tips to learn how to style and stage a bookshelf like a pro!


Tips to Style and Stage Bookshelves

  • Pack away 50% of what is in your bookshelf.
  • Remove any paperback books, as these appear less attractive and sophisticated than hardback books. Hint: Flip book jackets on hard cover books and recover books with the plain white side facing out. Alternatively, you can turn books backward so that the spine is facing the back of the wall and the page edges are facing out. Both methods create more visual uniformity on the shelf.
  • Vary the stacking of books, both vertical and horizontal.
  • Group accessories in odd numbers — usually 3 to 5 pieces
  • Push the books to the back of bookshelf to create more space.
  • Organize accessories from tallest to shortest, but try and keep books at even heights.
  • Add organic elements, like plants, wooden bowls, shells, or accessories with natural textures.
  • Arrange items that are similar in type or color in a zig-zag pattern between shelves to keep a viewer’s eye moving over the entire bookcase and to provide balance.
  • Use one or two large accessories vs. several small accessories give a more spacious feel and will generally photograph better. Using pieces larger than a grapefruit is a good rule of thumb.
  • Use one or two large accessories vs. several small accessories give a more spacious feel and will generally photograph better. Using pieces larger than a grapefruit is a good rule of thumb.
  • Remove any family photos or accessories buyers can use to profile you (no references to your hobbies, interests, political or religious preferences) – when in doubt, take it out. *Remember, this pertains to staging — if your home isn’t for sale, you can make your shelves as personalized as you want!
  • Remove anything resting atop your bookshelves as it gives an already tall piece more height and disrupts the balance in a room.
  • Consider balancing a bookshelf on one side of the room with a tree on the other side of the room.


Need Decor Ideas to Fill Those Shelves? 

Sign up below to access our Library of Freebies, where you can download our specially curated FREE Amazon Staging Favorites e-design board featuring super easy, clickable shopping links to every single item on the board! (You’ll find lots of other free goodies in the library as well!)

Do you have a favorite tip or trick you like to use for staging shelves? Comment below! And if you need a hand staging the bookshelves home for sale, we can help!


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About Vannessa Rhoades
About Vannessa Rhoades

Vannessa Rhoades is the author of Just Right! Easy DIY Home Staging: Second Edition and founder of Three Bears Home Staging®. She is an HSR Certified Professional Home Stager™ and Certified Expert E-Designer™ and has staged and consulted on hundreds of properties in person throughout the Houston metro area and virtually across the country.


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