Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

March 23, 2020

How To Design Color-Coded Statement Shelves.

     One of my favorite things about my current apartment is the color coded statement shelves that I've designed in the living room! I've never had bookcases be the center of a living room in past apartments, but now I'm obsessed and think I'll always do something similar with shelving in future apartments or homes that I have. Designing these shelves was a lot easier than I expected, and I'm excited to share more in today's post! 

    This post has been on my editorial calendar for quite some time, but seems even more appropriate now given social distancing and spending more time at home! This would be an easy project to stay busy with indoors.

Photos by myself and Kate Greer Photography 

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      Slowly but surely I've been sharing updates on the blog about my latest apartment, which I moved into six months ago. So far I've shared a tutorial for renter-friendly wall decor, and a much-awaited before and after apartment tour. Today I'm so excited to share how I designed color-coded bookshelves for the living room! I'd never done this before, but the whole process was much easier than I expected, and I love how it looks.

     You might notice that there's no living room TV in any of these photos. These pictures were all taken months ago in the fall, shortly after my cat broke my TV. I ended up getting a new TV for Christmas, so the mirror is no longer hanging there- but I think that it made a good statement wall piece in the meantime when there was no TV!

     My roommate, Abigail, purchased these white bookshelves for us. We had been looking at some from IKEA and were planning a trip up to Northern Virginia to see the options in person, but then Abigail found these white bookshelves for a much better price! Each bookshelf is under $40, and they come in other colors besides white as well. She moved into the apartment before I did, and she and her family assembled them, so they were all ready to go by the time I moved in. 

     Abigail didn't have as many books as I have, so she generously let me go ham with organizing and decorating them, since it would be mostly my books on them. (Thanks Abigail! 😊) I'd always wanted to design statement shelves before as I love the look of them, but since it was my first time I didn't quite know where to start.

    First I decided which shelves which hold which types of books. I decided that our left shelf would have my cookbooks and Abigail's textbooks, and the right shelf would hold my fiction and non-fiction books, as well as my magazines. I decided to get all the books arranged as I liked them before starting to add in other decor.

     First I arranged the magazines on the bottom of the right self. My mom has gotten me a few different magazine subscriptions for Christmas the past couple of years, so I have quite a few! I arranged them chronologically by type of magazine. Ideally I probably wouldn't have put magazines on these shelves at all, but I don't really have room for them in my bedroom or anywhere else in the apartment, so this seemed like a logical spot. I did put them on a bottom shelf so they weren't the most noticeable though.

     Next it was time to organize my fiction and nonfiction books! I organized them by colors of the rainbow, and instead of doing full shelves, I made each shelf half full so that I would have room to decorate each shelf with other things, too. This part of the process didn't take as long as I thought. 

     Next it was time to add in decorations to the open space on each shelf. What types of of things did I add to the shelves? Decorative mugs, coasters, vases, decks of card games, small pieces of art, etc. Some of these things I'd had for years since they were college dorm room decorations, and other things were newer to me. If you don't have any small decorations on hand to fill in your shelves, give yourself $15-20 to spend at Target, At Home, HomeGoods, etc... you'll be amazed at what type of little decorative pieces you can find cheaply! But I'm sure if you do a little digging in your home, you'll be amazed at what things you already have that you can use to fill in the shelves.

     Above is the finished right self! All of my magazines and books organized, and the extra spaces in the shelf filled in with some fun and colorful decorations. Next I organized my cookbooks and Abigail's school textbooks on the other shelf, and then filled in the gaps over there as well.

     And here are both finished shelves. (Nowadays things look a little differently as we have a TV there again, but I also did really like how things looked with the mirror as the centerpiece, too!)

Outfit details: 

     The exact (affordable!) shelves that my roommate and I have are linked for you below, as well as some of our favorite coffee table books. 

     I'd love to hear if you also have similar statement shelves in your home, or if you end up doing this soon as an indoor activity please let me know! I'd love to see pictures of the finished product. 

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 



  1. What a cute idea! I have tons of books too so. might just try this out! Love it for spring and summer :-) Hope you are well, girlie!! <3


  2. Okay i love this idea!!! Our book shelves are a hot mess and could use some reorganizing!

    xx Rebecca //

  3. Isn't decorating bookshelves so much fun?! I have always loved seeing books organized by color. Great job!

  4. I love your shelf styling! I'm always amazed at how people create them looking so cute. Yours are adorable!


  5. I love it! Your styling is so perfect. I have one bookshelf in my home that has both books that I've read/loved and ones my husband has. I've color coordinated it!

  6. Wow, it looks amazing. I am in need of redesigning my space. This post has given me some inspiration. Keep up the great work!

  7. I love seeing this type of publication and would love to do something like that. Great work

  8. Absolutely love how you styled these book shelves. So fun! The books really add a lot of fun color to the room.

  9. IT looks -so- so great!
    Our bookcases need some MAJOR this post was inspirational for sure.


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