Bookcases are a wonderful opportunity to create a focal point in any room. If you don't have the space for an entire wall of books (rare indeed), a well decorated bookshelf is an excellent substitute. The key is to find an aesthetically pleasing balance of books and accessories. Here are a few key tricks to help you do this!
1. Start with a clean shelf! It is so much easier to visualize and rearrange objects when starting with an empty surface.
2. Don't just go out and buy all trendy accessories. I think it's more interesting when you use books and objects that have been collected throughout a lifetime. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it's so much better when you are seeing something that has a story.
3. Use bright accessories! I love pops of color to liven up dark wood. This bright pink is so much fun, but any choice can work.
4. Use a mix of accessories. I love the combination of modern (painting), organic (coral) and glamorous (candle sticks). When in doubt a book (I prefer hardback, but I try not to be snobby) is always a good space filler.
5. Paint the back! This is the fastest way to make the greatest impact. I love this little trick and will definitely be attempting it on my next bookcase.
6. Don't over stuff. A full shelve can look fabulous or end up looking cluttered. When you have a few things that you really want to highlight, I would lean towards a less is more philosophy.
7. The most important part is to step back and give your bookcase a hard look. As a rule of thumb, the more substantial pieces go towards the bottom, while the objects at eye line will get the most attention. It also tends to look better when the shelf displays a nice flow without a rigid symmetry.
If you don't think it looks quite right, then ask a friend to help. I am constantly rearranging things and asking my friends/family's opinion on whether they could look better in a different spot. Good luck arranging your shelf!