Styling a Bookshelf for Summer

Give your books and home decor a warm-weather update with these easy tips and ideas for styling a bookshelf for summer.

I just finished a really good book.

It was a perfect summertime read. A good story with a few surprise plot twists, a heroine that was smart and quirky, and a quick read that had some substance to it…I really enjoyed it! (Read to the bottom of the post for the title!)

The book was on loan from my daughter. As an avid reader and book collector (I like to hold the actual book in my hands!), I have way too many books and now look for ways to read without owning them.

Plus, our bookshelves cannot handle any more books. We have a couple of bookcases in the house.

The first is a utilitarian bookcase that is chock full. Back to back and end to end…the books are well acquainted with each other because they are squished into the shelves together.

Then there is our living room bookcase. This is where I keep special books and other objects and art that speak to me at the moment.

Or the season!

Now that we are into the throes of summer, it was time for a seasonal refresh.

I love styling bookshelves and love sharing simple styling tips. I did give these bookshelves a Fall Style Makeover last fall so the summer months should not be left out!

The old arrangement came off the shelves and a new, summertime display took its place.

Are you looking for some ideas for styling a bookshelf for summer?

I’ve got you!

Take a look!

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Three bookshelves that have been styled for summer.

Keep it Light and Bright

While our bookcase is painted white, the background is colorful with a busy pattern. In order to get some summertime shelf vibes, anything that goes on the shelves needs to be light and bright.

An Easy and Dramatic Bookshelf Makeover Using Wallpaper is one of my favorite posts and favorite projects!

The color white is the BFF of summer styling!

Decor items and books with white, cream, or light colors will give the shelves an airy feel and tie in with your white linen pants, sunlight streaming through your oceanfront window, and the beachy sand between your toes…

Oops! I just finished watching “Something’s Gotta Give”. (I want Erica Barry’s house!)

Buy new, shop vintage, or refresh dated items with a can of white spray paint!

Look for books in your library with light book covers.

Or, find a white or light-colored wallpaper and create your own light and bright bookjackets.

Three white books sitting vertically are a great step in styling bookshelves for summer.

Here is a tutorial on how to cover a book with wallpaper.

I love lamps in a bookcase! Lamps really light up a space (pun intended!) and give balance to other items on the shelves.

The Rule of Three

Remember the “Rule of Three” when displaying. Use 3 items in a group that are high, medium, or low in height to create aesthetic interest and balance.

When styling bookshelves for summer, display items in groups of threes. Here is a tall lamp, a medium height planter, and a low height jar.

And Add More White!

A white pot or jar is always perfect for holding plants (faux or real.)

I decided to pull some rosemary from the kitchen and give it a new home near a sunny window!

A white pot sitting on top of a book really works when styling bookshelves for summer.

Natural Elements

In my head, I am outdoors all the time in the summer. Walking, gardening, picnicking…

Truth be told, while I do those things every summer, I hibernate indoors when the temperature and humidity soar.

So, including natural elements when styling a bookshelf for summer is a really great idea!

Think colors of nature and textures that invite touch!

These three green (faux) moss balls are effortlessly tossed into a wooden dough bowl.

A wood dough bowl holding green faux moss balls.

Woven baskets are the perfect marriage of form and function on any bookshelf.

Use baskets in a lighter shade. Keep it interesting by bringing in an accent color in the weave. Blue is perfect because, in the summertime, we instantly think of blue skies and sitting poolside!

The lids of a woven basket.

Display Tips

It is so fun to “load up” a bookcase. So many shelves and so many beautiful things to display.

But it is always a good idea to take a step back, look at what you have placed…and remove something!

Allow some space here and there for the eye to rest and really appreciate what is on the shelf.

This is especially true if you have a dark or patterned background as I do.

On the main shelf (eye-level), I did put together a grouping of three that is offset by a framed vintage print. However, on the second shelf, I placed one larger scale vase on top of a large book for height.

Two bookshelves that have been styled for summer using light colored vases.

Vary the shape and size of items you display. This is always more interesting!

A large sculpted pear

The space on top of a bookcase is always a question.

Remember, as the eye travels upward, items will start to look smaller. So, my tip is to display items that are larger in scale and not too detailed.

These large-scale woven seagrass baskets are BIG but don’t look as big when you are looking at them from ground level.

The top of the bookcase has been styled for summer using large scale baskets.

This modern sculpted “head” is large, dramatic, and does not have a lot of detail work in its design. Easy to see up close or from the floor!

A large white sculpture of a head.


Nothing says summer more than stripes!

From striped awnings to striped beach blankets, stripes are the perfect summer pattern. Bring this fun pattern to your bookshelves through…

…jars, bookends, boxes, candlesticks…let the stripes fly!

A blue and white striped jar.
A black and white stipe bookend sitting on a stack of books works well when styling bookshelves for summer.

And, of course, the Books!

I would be very remiss if I didn’t address the most important element in a bookshelf…the books!

Display them vertically…

Three books standing vertically.

or stack them horizontally.

Three books stacked horizontally.

Pull out some of your favorite travel-inspired books and put them on full display.

You might catch me dreaming of Paris!

Or New York!

Two travel-inspired books sitting on a shelf.

My last tip…once you are finished styling your bookshelves for summer, grab a cold lemonade or a frozen margarita, sit back and enjoy your new summertime indoor view!

And read the book “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus. (10,000 Five star ratings!)

Styling bookshelves for summer includes sitting back and looking at the big this photo of the entire style bookcase.



  1. Nice tips for styling a bookshelf. Love your choices of baskets. I like you idea of keeping it light and bright. That’s always my plan to keep it light and bright too.

    1. Thank you so much, Judy! I think baskets are one of the best ways to add that “light and. bright” look! Happy summer to you!

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