How to Style a Ladder Bookcase

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I love ladder bookcases! Always have, always will. They’re so versatile, they can be used in almost any room of the house! Their design creates a lighter, more open look than a traditional bookcase, which allows for endless design possibilities.

When we started buying furniture for our house, I knew I wanted to find a ladder bookcase of my own. Taking a chance, we went to one of our favorite antique stores and happened upon a solid wood ladder bookcase for less than fifty dollars. What a steal! Needless to say, we snatched that baby up and it’s now the perfect addition to our living room.

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Despite how unbelievably easy it was for us to find a ladder bookcase, figuring out how to style it was a challenge. To be honest, it’s an ever evolving process but that’s what makes these bookcases so great. From stacks of magazines to Christmas decor, our ladder bookcase has seen it all. Whether I’m switching out a single element or starting from scratch, I always apply these three techniques to achieve a balanced and creative look.

  • The larger and heavier it is, the lower it goes. Always place bigger items of more weight (both literally and visually) on the lower shelves. For example, the largest item on our bookcase, a basket for holding magazines, goes on the bottom shelf. If your bookcase is top-heavy, it won’t look good and will be distracting to the eye, taking away from the rest of the room. Remember, the shelves get smaller as they go up for a reason.

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  • Follow a specific color scheme, using items that vary in size and texture. Ladder bookcases are more for decoration than storage, even though they can serve both purposes. Consider the design elements of the room and apply a similar color scheme to the bookcase, mixing in textures like glass, metal and wood. For a more visually appealing look, incorporate items of different heights and add pops of color or greenery. Our living room has shades of blue, brown and white in it, so we used metallic accents and colorful floral patterns, like the beautiful tulip print from Laura Trevey.
  • Less is more. Like I mentioned before, ladder bookcases have a light and airy look to them because of their open shelves. When styling a ladder bookcase, try not make it busy with too many objects. Carefully choose a select number of items to display and balance the bookcase visually. This doesn’t mean everything should be symmetrical, just that one side of the bookcase shouldn’t visually outweigh the other.

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I’m very pleased with my ladder bookcase and I love how it creates a focal point in our living room. Right now, it’s decorated perfectly for spring and I think I’ll leave it that way through summer!

How do you style your bookcase? Share your photos and tag us on Instagram, @238milesapart. I’d love to see them!



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