How Real People Do Bookshelf Styling

When I see styled bookshelves in blogs and design magazines, the first thing that comes to mind is how fake they look. Almost everybody I know has a lot more books and knick-knacks than a styled bookshelf can afford, so, what do we do with the “extra” stuff? For real people, design has to beautiful and practical.

My friends Yassi and Daniela have very excellent taste. Their apartment in West Hollywood is always beautiful, tidy and comfy. They have hundreds of books and beautiful pieces. Last year, they updated their bookshelves. Here is the result. Answers by Yassi.

What is your decorating style?

I’m not sure i have a “style” but i guess would say it’s Eclectic Mid-Century Modern. I like clean lines and muted colors (with an occasional pop of color), not too many embellishments. I’m not a fan of gilded mirrors or crystal vases or antique frames but that being said, I love the idea of mixing modern and old hand crafted items with history behind them. (i.e. my dream house would be filled with mid-century furniture but with old antique Persian rugs, hand made pottery, and textiles).

How did you decide to style your bookshelf?

I’ve ALWAYS loved rooms with bookshelves. The rooms in houses with walls or shelves of books are always my favorite spaces in peoples homes (besides the kitchen) and my ideal “me” space would be to have a room with built in shelves filled with books and keepsakes. I want to one day get a custom Vitsoe shelving system in our house, but they don’t come cheap so the current Elfa system from the Container Store was a less costly compromise until i can get my hands on my dream Vitsoe! do you like the most about your bookshelf?

It makes me so happy to just look at it. It sounds silly but looking at my books and all the little sentimental pieces we have collected over the years really makes me happy. Each book and each item on there represents a specific time or place or person in our lives and it really does make our house a home.

What do you like the least about your bookshelf?

I regret not making the shelf a little longer and extending it to the left – thats the plan for later in the year, to get rid of the cd racks that are mounted next to it and extend the Elfa . is there in your bookshelf and how did you pick what to put on them? Any favorite item?

Books and stuff we have collected or people have given us over the years (my brothers candle holders, his vases, A big print from my cousin Ladan, items from Iran, Brazil or Mexico travels, etc….) there is no favorite item.  If we find something sentimental or someone gives us a gift or comes back from a trip with a small enough souvenir, then it finds itself somewhere up there.

Any advice on styling your bookshelf?

Not really – each person has their own way of expressing themselves and decorating and taste is unique. I would say that over cluttering should be avoided and that there has to be some sort of symmetry and harmony of themes when it comes to book organizing. I’m not a fan of color coding my books by spine color – it may look nicer on peoples Instagram posts but i’ve always felt like it would be impossible to organize the books by subject or author, which to me is key. I’ve arranged my books by subject, size and by date I read them – in that order. styling2 styling

Thanks, Yassi and Daniela! This wedding announcement photo was taken by Yassi’s brother Kacy Jahanbini, who is one of the best photographers I know.


Also, a post about how to take better interior photography, Lindsey Hampton gorgeous ceramics, and a beautiful country house in Costa Rica. 

Let Us Connect:
13 replies
  1. yassi says:

    Your pictures are amazing and make our shelf look so lovely – everything pops out. I never realized just how much color I have up there! Thanks for a super fun morning and our 15 minutes of “design blog’ fame my friend! xoxox

    • Mila says:

      Yassi! You are SO famous right now that you won’t be able to go out on the street. Beware! Also, thanks to YOU

  2. Keiran says:

    Hi, loved this feature as we are putting in a big bookshelf in our lounge room. Where did you get the grey rug with crosses please? It’s fabulous!

  3. Sarah says:

    Completely agree about fake looking bookshelves. Those people that own about ten books, and then fill the rest of the space with candles and plants, where do they keep the rest of their stuff?!

    I have around 300 books so large bookshelves are a must. I like having some space for knick knacks and ornaments, but it definitely needs to be 90% books.

  4. Julene says:

    I just came across this article which is perfect for my situation. I am feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff and books I have on my bookshelves when comparing to those perfect pics on pinterest, deco standards are so HIGH! So after reading this I will focus on finding my own harmony. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Mila says:

      Julene, I am so happy you felt that way after reading this post! We should not compare our homes to those Pinterest perfect homes. I think that simple rearrangement of furniture and objects can make a big difference! Send a photo when you do your thing! I would love to see: [email protected]


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