Bookshelf Transformation

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We recently had the opportunity to work on a wonderful new project. After the completion of a renovation, our client was having difficulty utilizing the built-in shelving in the living area and was unsure of what/how to display items. Whilst we thought our client had done a good job, it’s amazing what a difference small changes can make. So therefore, we thought this would be a great chance to share some tips on how to transform a bookshelf into a feature display. An image of the bookshelf is below.


Our top 10 tips are:

  1. Clear all existing items from the bookshelf and wipe the area over. You now have a clear space to start placing your selected objects.
  2. Not sure what to display? Choose items that are personal and have some relevance – collections, interests, hobbies, family mementos and photos. Go through your cupboards and see what has been hidden away for all of those years.
  3. Suggested items for display (apart from books) can range widely – artwork, vases, shells, sculptures, photos, bowls, antiques, trophies, containers, plants, candles….the list goes on.
  4. Group like items together by using themes, colour, shape, texture or materials (crystal, glass, silver, ceramic).
  5. Mix up your display and avoid making each section the same. Make sure there is some cohesiveness to the display but avoid looking too uniformed. Balance is important, so use loose symmetry and add contrast with varying heights.
  6. Don’t overcrowd a bookshelf. Use the open space to show off items such as a beautiful vase or sculpture. If the display is too busy, items get lost competing with each other.
  7. Shelving can also work as a functional storage area. Neatly stack books or fire wood and create interest by placing items both vertically and horizontally.
  8. Bigger bolder accessories stand out, so strategically place these items for impact and group smaller items together for visual strength.
  9. Layering helps to create height and depth. Use books stacked underneath an object to add height and placement of pictures behind accessories creates depth.
  10. It’s easy to get caught up in moving items around…take a step back and assess how things are looking from a distance. Also, your display can be constantly evolving…so don’t be afraid to move items around or add that new purchase!

Feedback from our client

My newly renovated open plan living/kitchen/dining room was being horribly let down by my lack of an ‘eye’ so my ‘feature’ open shelving ended up as a randomly placed hotch potch jumble of things.

No matter how long I looked at magazines and blogs for inspiration or moved things around, I couldn’t see how to make it work. In came Kym Lackmann from LUXE domain, who in just an hour or so, had completely transformed these shelves into a stunning and stylish showpiece, removing only a few things, but adding in precious items that I had long forgotten or that were tucked away elsewhere in the house.

Suddenly things I loved, like my copper tea canister bought on a recent trip to Japan ‘popped’ out from the shelves and my much loved Norma Redpath sculpture that my Father had bought in the 50’s, had a home. Inherited from my Grandmother, my well used bellows, hand carved by Ola Cohn, were now on display instead of hidden in a drawer and an old hunting horn was cleverly teamed with my first horse-riding hat.

Along with a few subtle moves of furniture, that I would never have even considered, has created a totally new look that I love and I can now sit on my couches and enjoy my special pieces rather than cringe every time I look at them.

I am now eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new casual lounge chair in a deep moss green, a light and some cushions to finish the room. I can’t recommend Kym highly enough and it such a tiny investment to make that I am slapping myself I didn’t call her sooner!

Kym Lackmann


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