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Calling All Book Lovers!

7 ways to up your #shelfie game.

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Woman in pink suit sitting on orange couch surrounded by books
BG Collection / Gallery Stock
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Time-travel author Meredith McCardle painted an entire wall in her home office to look like the first page of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, beginning in the top left corner with, “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” McCardle used a projector to cast the words onto the wall in pencil, then spent a painstaking 60 hours tracing them in pencil and filling them in with black paint.

We’re jealous McCardle found such an inspiring way to integrate reading into her living space. But there are easier, less labor-intensive ways for bibliophiles to decorate their home in a manner that pays tribute to their beloved stories. “If books are a part of your life, why not use them in a way that helps people who come into your house learn more about you?” says Dallas-based interior stylist Jessica Nickerson, owner of House Homemade. “If you love them, it feels like a natural extension to use them as decor.” We asked a few design experts for their favorite shelf-help tips.

Use them to highlight your favorite objects d’art

Alejandra García, owner of The Stile Staging and Design based near Chicago, frequently stacks a few hardcover books on top of each other, crowning them with a pretty decorative object, picture frame, vase or candle. You can use them this way on a bookshelf, ladder bookcase or fireplace mantel, or to give a lamp more height on a console or accent table.

Combine them with plants

For an Instagrammable look, open a beautiful coffee table book to an eye-catching page and display it on your coffee table. Next, take a cute succulent in an even cuter tiny pot and place it on one corner of the book.

Stack vertically and horizontally

Add visual interest to your bookshelves by experimenting with different book orientations. Let’s say one shelf has a pile of three horizontally stacked books acting as a pedestal for a funky metal geometric sculpture. “On the next shelf, arrange several of them vertically on the left and the right, then place your decor in the middle,” García says. Nickerson recommends showcasing books in odd numbers, which are “pleasing to the eye.” Another idea: tie a few books together with twine, lace or other materials. (You can also find these premade on Etsy by searching “twine books.”)

Get colorful

“For different seasons, I’ll collect and display books in [a related] color — warm oranges, reds and golds in the fall, green for Christmastime,” says Nickerson, who also once wallpapered a kitchen nook with torn-out dictionary pages. “It’s a little subconscious nod to the season.” As for the recent trend of organizing your bookshelves in a rainbow array, starting with red spines and progressing through ROY G. BIV, García says it’s indeed fun for a children’s play space or bedroom, but be prepared for the fruits of your labor to be swiftly rearranged by young readers. For a different twist on this look, “organize by size, tall to little,” she says.

Turn them around

Nickerson warns this is a controversial move among book fans: Turn your books around, pages out, for subtle texture and a neutral, uniform vibe. “It helps quiet the scene and feels soft, a little less busy,” she says. If hiding the spines of your most treasured books feels taboo, hit up your local thrift store or Facebook Marketplace for cheap ones. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money,” García says. “Libraries sometimes have clearance events and sell books for $1 each. They can look used — that usually looks even more amazing.”

Stack them on the floor

This is another controversial one in the literary community! You can use old vintage or thrifted books as doorstops, or stack several large ones on top of each other from the ground up and use as a side table or plant display. The cover of designer Myquillyn Smith’s book The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful features a lovely shabby chic chair with three legs. The fourth is missing, artfully replaced by a stack of books.

Ditch the dust jackets

If the bright aqua book jacket of your favorite memoir doesn’t match the aesthetic of your neutral living room, take it off, suggests blogger and online content creator Vivien Albrecht. “You might be surprised at how appealing your ‘naked’ book will look,” she writes on her blog, Posh Pennies. “Usually, the hardcovers are wrapped in cotton in a solid color and look quite smart.”