Bookshelf Accessories


Please help with built in bookshelves in my two-story great room!

I have had the hardest time accessorizing the shelves on the right. They are big shelves. I would also love advice on whether to paint the backs of the shelves and behind the TV. Should I paint them the same color as the wall, or perhaps line the back with mirror? And should I put anything above the TV? What about over to the left above the staircase?


Bookshelf Accessories


Dear Amy,

Trying to pull together a room full of accessories is a daunting task. Accessories determine the personality of the room and provide a sense of who you are. You have a lovely home and we can see that you have great taste and a sense of color. Sometimes, larger spaces can overwhelm us when it comes to decorating, but we think we have a few suggestions that may help you pull everything together.

Let’s start with the shelves. The accessory items that you have seem a bit too small and look cluttered rather than purposeful. Your idea of painting the backs of the shelves and the area behind the TV is right on target. We think a Spa Blue would be an excellent choice. Another option would be to hang grass cloth in a neutral tone, perhaps matching the wall color, or pale blue to give the area texture and substance. The choice is yours.

As far as accessorizing the shelves, we sketched out a possible arrangement. It consists of lesser items that have more impact. In this case less is more – choosing items that are in scale with the size of the shelves really matters.


Bookcase Accessories

The accessories we choose were selected for their impact as well as variation of shape and color: three of the Patchwork Prints on the lower right shelf and one leaning against books on the top left shelf; Individual Klimt Landscape Print #5 on right middle shelf; Small Italian Garden placed on center left shelf. All the other accessories were originally on the shelves, we just weeded out the less impactful ones.

The wall above the fireplace is expansive and could use some architectural interest, which is why we chose our Garden District Mirrors to define the area without competing with it. We have also chosen our Napoleon Premier Print for the staircase. It is such a conversation piece! It was chosen not only for its unique style, but for its impressive size.

 Patchwork Prints  Klimt Landscape Print  Small Italian Garden  Garden District Mirrors  Napoleon Premier Print
1 – Patchwork Prints 2 – Individual Klimt Landscape Print #5 3 – Small Italian Garden 4 – Garden District Mirrors 5 – Napoleon Premier Print

We do hope that you will find some of our ideas helpful, and wish you happy decorating – have fun and enjoy! Don’t forget to send pictures when you finish.

The Style Studio Team

Posted 9/29/09

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply


    January 6, 2010

    Response to “Bookshelf Accessories” I really like your suggestions. I have similar bookshelves in an espresso stain. It is so dark inside all you can see are items that are white. I could take the back panels off to let the pale green paint color show through. Any suggestions for me?

    • Reply


      January 7, 2010

      We think you are right on target. Removing the back panels is probably the easiest fix. This will give you a much lighter background to showcase items. Why not try it and let us know if this is an improvement.
      The Style Studio Team

  2. Reply


    November 11, 2009

    Dear Mary: As you can see, Amy’s built-in cabinets do not go up to the ceiling. We think it is a matter of personal preference to either build the bookcase units in or purchase free-standing ones. If you choose to build in the bookcases, of course you are adding value to your home. They become an added built in feature. If this is a consideration, we suggest getting an estimate on the total cost for a finished product. But if you do decide on freestanding cabinets, we do have the Tuscan Collection which has a wide variety of combinations that will work in most spaces. You certainly may send us a picture and measurements of the area you wish to have the bookcases and we will be happy to suggest some combinations of pieces. You can e-mail us at Thank you for your comments.
    The Style Studio Team

  3. Reply


    November 10, 2009

    hi, I love your advice and suggestions for customers. I have a 2 story family room that I wish would have the bookshelves like this person has so that I could display like you have suggested. I have not know how to tackle 17 foot ceilings. I could send a picture if you would be able to suggest ideas. Looking to decide between built in or buy and have freestanding bookshelves. Which is the wisest investment?
    Thank you