As an Interior Designer, I have the honor of helping my clients create an experience that is personal to their family and tells the story of their lives.

One of the questions that I am frequently asked is, “How do I decorate my bookshelves?” Well, the very best place to start is with books!

In regards to appointing our homes, I am a paperback book snob. Paperbacks belong on the beach, not beautiful bookshelves. The formality of a proper book shelf screams gorgeous hardcover. Now, if the bookshelf in question is in a Library, Office or Den, then it is perfectly acceptable, expected almost, for the books to stack vertically on each shelf, from the floor to the ceiling. On the other hand, if your shelves are in a position to provide a little flirtatious function, then there are so many ways for them to be interesting and fun.



The most important factor to consider when selecting which books will adorn your shelves should be that the subject matter is of interest to you. This photograph is of a piece that lives in my Family Room. It is a perfect blend of books that interest me, revealing a personal side of myself, and mementos that celebrate my family and our interests.

The books I have chosen to share here are some of my very favorite subjects; Hollywood Glamour (live for), Biographies (hope to learn from), Manners and Etiquette (strive to emulate), Interior Design (immersed in!). Notice that in order to create a pleasing arrangement, there needs to be an organizing principle. I sort my books by subject matter and size so the groupings make sense. Here I have four rows of shelves, with three columns. The very top row of shelves are glass, with interior lighting that shines downward. I have selected to allow the light to peek through the glass which is why I don’t have a sold mass of books on those shelves. For the sake of symmetry and balance, the third row of shelves from the bottom and the bottom shelves are treated similarly; the two outer columns display books that are arranged vertically, while the center column shows books that are stacked horizontally. They are arranged with the largest books on the bottom and the smaller books on top, again for a sense of balance. The second row of shelves from the bottom creates the opposite effect with the two outer columns featuring books that are stacked horizontally.



Now that we have selected our books and settled on an arrangement, it is time to intersperse our family’s personality onto the shelves. Sharing the shelves with my books are some of my beloved photographs; my Nicky on the evening he lost his first tooth and was putting it under his pillow, me with my girlfriends, Nick and Amanda together, Amanda with our most beloved Chocolate Labrador, Wrigley, Chuck and me at our wedding, and my mom and me when I was just a tot. Tucked amongst the pictures are my treasured  porcelain Tiffany Boxes, a bronze sleeping bunny (I’m crazy for bunnies), a camel from a family trip to Arizona which represents the Camelback Mountains, a brown dog in honor of our brown dog,  statuary of a pixie fairy and a beehive because I love bees (and bugs and butterflies).



The very top shelves share a common theme; each displays one of a series of a study of leaves (I love nature and all of its glory). One shelf is home to a decorative plate, an urn and an elephant (trunks up for good luck). The center shelf displays a pitcher with a bamboo handle (another natural element), a lion’s head and a monkey statue that is charming and tall enough to balance out the height of the pitcher. The last shelf showcases a pagoda (in honor of my adoration of Chinoiserie), a froggy pedestal dish because frogs are cute and a Lalique, glass elephant which is just an amazing piece of artwork.



The most important design rule to remember is that the more you love it, the more it will feel like home…..

If you have a project, I welcome the opportunity to learn about it and how we might work together!

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of summer in your home and with your family,

Vanessa Nunley