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Decorating bookshelves is one of my favorite ways to add character to a space, especially a rental. Not only are they (obviously) great for housing books, bookshelves are perfect for sharing photos, displaying interesting knick knacks and heirlooms, and even freeing up kitchen space. You don’t have to have fancy built-ins or glass shelving for them to look nice either, which is a huge plus. For example, we’ve had the same cardboard-backed Billy bookcases from Ikea for 5+ years now, and we still get compliments. I like to switch up our living room bookshelf decor seasonally, too, so it’s always changing and always creating new conversations.
On that note, I thought it’d be fun to share a few of my summer bookshelf styling ideas in today’s post! These are all simple budget-friendly ways to give your space a quick summer refresh without a $200+ trip to Target or TJ Maxx. Keep reading for five of my favorite summer-inspired bookcase decor ideas!
Bookshelf Styling Ideas for Summer
1. Highlight houseplants.
Nothing breathes life into your space (literally) like live houseplants. In addition to adding beautiful pops of tropical color, indoor plants are known to boost moods, eliminate air pollutants, and increase creativity, among other benefits. Pop them in a bright white or coastal-inspired planter, and your space will instantly look and feel refreshed.
Also, if you’re looking to save money, try propagating an existing houseplant through stem or cane cuttings. Some of the easiest to propagate are Pothos (proud to say I’ve done this successfully– only once, but still), ZZ Plants, and Snake Plants.
2. Add color with preserved flowers.
I was recently turned on to preserved flowers, and I’m, for lack of a better term, obsessed. Up until about a week ago, I always thought of preserved flowers as dried flowers. You know, like the dead gothic-looking red roses you hang upside down after prom. Fortunately, Verdissimo sent me a few of their preserved flower boxes for a social collaboration, and, outside of regular faux flowers, I had no idea anything like this existed. If you’re as unfamiliar as I was, preserved flowers are totally real, fresh-looking flowers that’ve been treated to not need light, water, or pruning. They’re available with stems (for those of us who like to design our own arrangements) and also in pre-arranged preserved flower boxes that make wonderful living room bookshelf decor.
For the record, I still love and will continue to spend way too much money on fresh flowers. Preserved flowers are a practical, set-it-and-forget-it floral accent option, though, and I’m a fan.
3. Utilize rattan and other natural textures.
I lean into coastal decor year-round, but it’s hard to look at rattan and not think of summer. Raffia and wicker create the same natural aesthetic. Not exaggerating, every beach condo and Serena and Lily catalog are riddled with a combination of the three. So, add some woven baskets (like these) or display boxes (like these) onto your bookshelves and use them to house knick-knacks. Another option is to simply leave them empty and let them serve as regular old accent pieces.
4. Stack colorful books horizontally and vertically.
When it comes to bookshelf decor ideas for any season, actual books are key. Not the fake stack kind. They help make a house look and feel like a home and are great conversation starters. I personally like to switch my books out every season, and in the summertime, I grab all the green, blue, and pink covers I can find. Just a tip– look underneath some of your favorite book covers. You’d be surprised by how many colorful spines are covered up by muted jackets. Of course, subject matter is important, too, so I stick with topics like parties, plants, and anything coastal or beach-related.
As far as stacking books for decoration goes, I like to stack them both vertically and horizontally. Vertical stacks are a little more practical as far as space-saving goes, but horizontal stacks are great for creating dimension and serving as makeshift risers for other interesting accent pieces.
5. Turn vibrant glassware into an accent piece.
I always tell my husband that sometimes I’m glad we don’t have a Home Goods in Columbia (I know, tragic) because it forces me to get creative. Instead of spending $15 or $20 on random knick knacks, I scavenge the pits of cabinets to find bookshelf decor. Some of my favorite accent pieces are glassware. Interesting glasses (like this romantic pink stemware), whether they’re new or antique, are beautiful to look at and always add a vibrant pop of color to bookshelves.
Blue glasses, in particular, are golden when it comes to living room bookshelf decor for summer. I actually dedicated an entire shelf to our blue Villeroy and Boch goblets and double old-fashioned glasses. Not only does it look summery and coastal, it freed up a ton of space in our kitchen cabinets. The same goes for this blue Italian dinnerware, as well.
Another option is to install an easy-on-the-eyes, under cabinet wine glass rack (like this one). We added one to each of our living room bookshelves, and they’re more than worth their 5-star rating. They freed up a ton of space in our kitchen and look really nice, too.
What are some of your favorite living room bookshelf decor ideas for summer? Any interesting seasonal items you’ve found and/or displayed?
Well, that’s all I’ve got for y’all today! Thanks so much for reading!
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