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Best Coffee Table Books to Style Shelves

March 19, 2020

One of the most important parts of styling bookshelves is the books! When I started compiling decor pieces and knick-knacks to style my new built-in bookshelves around my living room fireplace, I knew that it would take a great selection of coffee table books to really pull everything together.

No matter what your style is, there’s going to be a way that books can bring the styled shelves together into a cohesive design asset. I focused on bright colors and gold accents to liven up my white shelves and found a lot of coffee table books with gorgeous spines and covers. Though styling bookshelves is always a fluid process, and things will probably change and shift as I keep looking at the shelves, I’ve finally finished one side of my built-in bookshelves!

As you can see, I’m a big fan of ginger jars. I’m always on the hunt for interesting and reasonably priced ginger jars to add a classic pop of blue to any space I’m styling. There’s something iconic about the blue floral patterns that elevates a space, plus, you can find them in pretty much any size or shape you need to fill your shelves. Williams Sonoma Home is a great place to find some jars, and I found the ginger jar on the second shelf there. I found the other two ginger jars at HomeGoods, and have linked similar ones here and here!

I love incorporating art into my bookshelf design, especially when I can use pieces from local Charleston artists! On the top shelf of my bookcase is a gorgeous piece from Lauren Neville, who I introduced y’all to in my Charleston Creatives series. I love how the blue and pink pulls in colors from the rest of the shelf, and the painting is just so fun! I framed it in a gold bamboo-like frame to tie in with the other gold accents in the room. The framed photo on the bottom shelf is from Target.

Unintentionally, these built-in bookshelves have kind of taken on an animal theme. This vintage pitcher in the shape of a monkey recently got some monkey candle holder friends that I’m still figuring out how to place on the other side of the built-ins. I love monkeys, as you may be realizing after my trip to the Myrtle Beach Safari, and I love that I can incorporate them in fun and stylish ways in my home decor. I found this monkey pitcher on Chairish. I also found this pair of bird bookends from Target. Although those are sold out, they now have a set of white and gold PINEAPPLE bookends. Can you think of anything better? I might have to find somewhere else in my house for them to go.

Target is seriously one of the best places to find shelf decor. The fake fiddle leaf fig on this shelf is from Target and has all the class and charm of a real plant but without the upkeep!

One of my new favorite places to find decor is actually a local Charleston store, Rhodes Boutique! I’ve talked about this store over on my Instagram a lot lately, and I am just continuously impressed by their selection of home decor. Plus, everything there is SO well priced, I couldn’t believe my eyes looking at some of the price tags. One of my best finds there is their faux flowers. Each flower or bunch is a great bargain and looks totally real. The flowers I have on the bottom shelf of this built-in bookcase are from Rhodes!

Now as far as books go, I was able to put this shelf together using some of my favorite go-to coffee table books. Some of these books are beautiful just as they are, but with some of them, I removed the dust jacket to reveal the colorful cloth binding underneath. All of these books are books that I genuinely read and turn to for inspiration, so I feel good about buying things that have both a decorative and functional purpose!

I LOVE how colorful all these books are; it brings so much cheer and joy into the shelf. Just because it’s a “styled” shelf doesn’t mean it has to be formal or stuffy, and this shelf definitely screams fun. I found the key to making all of these colors work together was to balance bright shades with more pastel tones, and stick with just one to two coordinating colors for the rest of the shelf and decor (like gold in the frames and the blue from the ginger jars). I’ve listed all of the coffee table books on my shelves for you so you can add them to your own home decor. If you’re looking for more inspiration, I have a list of 100 coffee table books that are perfect to style with on my Amazon storefront!

Best Coffee Table Books to Style With

These are all the books I used on my bookshelf. Most of these are some of my long-time favorites. They’re so colorful and I actually enjoy reading them, too! When it comes to using coffee table books to style a shelf, you’re usually looking for pretty spines that will look good lined up on a shelf, but if you’re buying books online, most places don’t give you a good picture of the spine, if you get any glimpses of it at all! Since a lot of these coffee table books were featured in my styling bookshelves post, I wanted to find a way to show you guys the actual spine of the books so you can figure out if they’ll be good additions to your shelves!

Interior Designers’ Favorite Coffee Table Books

I had so much fun hearing what other interior designers had to say about their tips for decorating bookshelves, and really learned a lot. So I reached out to some more designers again to get their favorite coffee table books that they use when they style shelves. I’m excited to add more to my list, and hope you find it helpful, too!

Maggie York, Margaret of York

“When it comes to styling shelves, I love adding in coffee table books. I tend to collect them because I find them beautiful and interesting. They look especially great stacked horizontally on a shelf. Some of my favorite coffee table books include Beautiful by Mark Sikes, Island Hopping by Amanda Lindroth, Timeless Style by Suzanne Kasler, and Coastal Blues by Phoebe Howard.”

Tula Summerford, Design by Tula

“Books should appear in every room, on shelves and tables, even stacked on the floor. Nothing adds character to a room as much as books. The three I always style with are Windows at Bergdorf Goodman, When Art Meets Design by Hunt Slonem, and Here is New York. I love to incorporate these three books because they all blend in with a monochromatic palette and add a pop of color at the same time!”

Lesley Bright, Ellebright Designs

“I typically like to pull books that relate to a client’s specific interests, but when something generally stylish is needed, I find myself going for the same dozen or so, time and again. Of those, my perennial must-haves are Louis Vuitton: The Birth of Modern Luxury, The Big Book of Chic by Miles Redd, Vanity Fair 100 Years: From the Jazz Age to Our Age, and Tom Ford.

Berkley Minkhorst and Kelley Lentini, House of Nomad Design

“We believe that everyone’s coffee table can tell people a little about their story with the books that they have stacked there. They are great for layering on shelves to add varying heights, and we love to group by color for a pop of color where needed. Right now we are loving Surf Shack, Holiday: The Best Travel Magazine That Ever Was, and Designers Abroad.”

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