Styling Built-Ins Like a Boss

Blog, Design Advice


Style Your Built-Ins Like a Boss

When we built our room addition I wanted white enclosed built-ins.  We have them in the office and I wanted to move those into the new addition.  My hubby wasn’t thrilled with the idea.  He would have come around if I had a pushed, but I started looking for alternatives instead.

I finally decided on ladder shelves with drawers at the bottom.  We spent an entire Sunday putting all four of them together.  They are a perfect compromise for built-ins, they add extra storage, and they make the tv wall quite a focal point!  They came in white and wood tone and as much as I would have loved the white I knew they would have been a cleaning nightmare so I ended up getting them in the wood tone.

I love how the grey of the wall shows through (it would have been a shame to cover up all of that hard work I did) and instead of using the handles that came with them, I used some vintage drawer pulls I had picked up on one of my junking adventures (I knew they would come in handy some day).  Then came the fun part…styling my new built-ins!

Do you struggle with styling your built-ins?  Well, I am here to help you with the easy process I use when styling mine…it really is quite easy!!

DON’T FORGET TO PIN FOR LATER!Styling bookshelves is easy when you follow these steps


Any time I restyle these built-ins, I start with a clean slate.  I take everything off, dust them, and gather the items I want to put on them.  There are a couple of things that stay put no matter what.  Our video camera monitor and to balance that out, an old antique mantle clock (the only time it has worked in the last 15 years is when I moved it to clean, it was a little spooky)


Then of course I add in some books.  I could cover them all in matching paper, but I kind of like the little pop of color on the edges of the covers.  I chose to display there with the pages out to add some texture to my vignettes.  After that is all about balance and layering.


When deciding what to display, I choose things that I love and for the most part I use the “less is more” rule.

You may choose to stick to a theme of items and if you do make sure to display them in odd numbered sets, this make it easier to stagger them in your vignettes.  I really have no theme, but I still display my items in odd numbered sets.

My style is an eclectic mix of metals, woods, and ceramics.  I start in the middle of each shelf and work my way out to each end to place my items into the space.

Balancing your vignettes on each shelf, as well as the entire built-in as a unit, makes it easy for the eye to take it all in. I work in opposites to achieve balance, mirroring my items on opposite shelves in size and placement.  Layer larger items to the back of your shelves and smaller items to the front.  Using the books to give height to smaller items is a great way to add visual interest.

That is really all there is to styling your built-ins like a boss!

Start with a clean slate

Choose things you love

Display items in odd numbered sets

Balance your vignettes to make them pleasing to the eye

Layer your items to create texture and movement

Styling Buit-Ins Like A Boss

Styling Built-ins Like a Boss



Styling Built-Ins Like a Boss

I yearn for Farmhouse Style in my home.  I pin numerous farmhouse pins to Pinterest of white painted furniture and vintage decor, yet I keep coming back to wood tones.  I have decided my style is eclectic, a mix of several styles all blended into one.  I think my built-ins reflect that, don’t you?

Now go style your built-ins like a boss and let me know how it turns out!!



Previous Story
Next Story

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    August 29, 2016 at 9:23 am

    I need all the styling tips please! I love your ladder shelves and they are truly the perfect compromise to built in.

    I will be sure to pin this for later!

    • Reply
      August 29, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      Thank you for reading Lisa!! I hope my tips help you!! Feel free to ask questions if you have them 🙂

  • Reply
    Angela J. Ford
    August 30, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    I love these styling tips. I’m a minimalist and my apartment needs some love in the styling area! I enjoyed this, looking forward to more from you!

    • Reply
      August 30, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      Thank you Angela!! I am a firm believer that less is more!! 🙂

  • Reply
    August 30, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    I’m loving the idea of built ins! We are currently in the process of styling our new apartment and these would look great. Thanks for the idea!

    • Reply
      August 30, 2016 at 7:39 pm

      Thank you Tatyanna!! They do seem to make the space seem even bigger than it is 😉

  • Reply
    August 30, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Lovely I really like your tips and love the ladders!

    • Reply
      August 30, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Thank you Amy!! My hubby was right about the enclosed built-ins…and I told him so 😉

  • Reply
    August 30, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    They look great! I’m all about the layers too!

    • Reply
      August 30, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      Thanks Shannon!! layers make the story better 🙂

  • Reply
    August 30, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Love those shelves; very stylish and functional!

    • Reply
      August 30, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      Thank you Rebekka, we love them!

  • Reply
    August 30, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    They look AWESOME! My husband is an industrial designer turned furniture maker. We’re currently styling up some of his creations for his online gallery – definitely using this post for inspiration. I feel like our style is a little more nomad/boho minimal (totally made up) with lots of natural fibres etc

    • Reply
      August 30, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks Cynthia!! Nomad/boho minimal….LOVE it!!

  • Reply
    Isabella Smith
    August 31, 2016 at 7:22 am

    This looks gorgeous! I definitely needed this inspiration for my Spring cleaning!
    X Isabella

    • Reply
      August 31, 2016 at 7:29 am

      Thank you Isabella!! They are definitely the focal point of the room 🙂

  • Reply
    August 31, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I am tedoing my study this weekend. These are great tips.

    • Reply
      August 31, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      I hope they helped you Pubali!! If you need any additional help just let me know!

  • Reply
    Toni | Small Home Soul
    August 31, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    This post is timely for me. I have 10 shelves I ‘m getting ready to paint that will go on either side of our TV. The brackets are on the wall and I’m only waiting for my paint sprayer to arrive so I can get them painted. I know I’ll need some styling tips once I’m ready to accessorize so I’m pinning this post.

    I too love farmhouse but don’t necessarily use it in my home, but I love industrial and have started incorporating a few things here and there. That just means we have eclectic taste, we can love what we don’t have in our own home.

    Thanks for linking up to Waste Not Wednesday!

    • Reply
      August 31, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      Thank you Toni!!! Eclectic is exactly right 🙂 Thanks for reading and pinning!!

  • Reply
    Sam @ Raggedy Bits
    September 5, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    I love how you have used the ladders!!! That way you get to see all of your awesome goodies that you have collected and change out when you want to change things around!! Love all of your tips too!

    Thank you so much for sharing over at Waste Not Wednesday! Looking forward to seeing what cleverness you share with us this week!!! 🙂

    • Reply
      September 5, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks Sam!! Thanks for a great party, I love all the posts that all the awesome bloggers link up!

  • Reply
    September 7, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Nice job with both the shelving and the styling. I’m never sure I am styling shelving correctly so thanks so much for the tips!!

  • Reply
    September 7, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Great easy to follow tips and results are as well~

  • Reply
    September 8, 2016 at 12:10 am

    These are some great tips on styling built ins! Awesome idea to use the ladder shelves, and of course you have styled them so beautifully. Thanks for the tips and inspiration!

    • Reply
      September 8, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      Thank you Keri!! I am really glad I looked for an alternative to closed in bookcases, we love them 🙂

  • Reply
    Festive Fall Home Tour 2016 - Life On Pearl Street
    September 23, 2016 at 12:17 am

    […] I printed this adorable printable from Linda at The Home I Create , don’t you just love it?!  I love styling my bookshelves and if you need some tips on how to style yours, you can learn how to Style Built-ins like a Boss HERE. […]

  • Reply
    June 23, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    I have never seen ladder shelves with drawers! How cool is that?! Your styling tips are even cooler. I can’t wait to start designing my shelf decor.

    • Reply
      June 25, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Thank you Amanda! I got the shelves from country 🙂

  • Reply
    Amy White
    June 23, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    I love these bookshelves. They seriously look amazing. You did a great job styling them and putting everything together.

    • Reply
      June 25, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Thank you Amy!

  • Reply
    Tiffany Staples
    July 7, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    These bookshelves are adorable! Honestly, I didn’t realize they were built-ins. I love them and your styling looks great!

    • Reply
      July 7, 2017 at 6:44 pm

      Thank you Tiffany!! It was a good compromise from what I wanted and what my didn’t want, lol!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Smith
    July 7, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    I love these! Thank you for laying out the design choices you made and why. It really helps.

    • Reply
      July 7, 2017 at 8:26 pm

      Thank you Jennifer!! I am glad it was helpful 🙂

  • Reply
    Jennifer Gainer
    July 9, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Those ladder shelves are amazing!! Great infomration, as always!!! You knocked it out of the park with this post!!!

    • Reply
      July 9, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks friend!! The shelves were a great compromise with what I wanted and what the hubby didn’t, lol!

    Leave a Reply