Whether she’s artfully arranging the displays at her River Oaks boutique or thoughtfully organizing a set of bookshelves for a client, Houston designer Paloma Contreras (palomacontreras.com) seems to have mastered the art of shelf styling. Here, the interiors maven shares a few of her trade secrets.


'“The finishing touch, and one of my favorite parts of styling bookcases, is adding in framed art. It’s a great way to add color, character and personality."

“For balance, follow the ‘pyramid rule.’ When faced with a group of objects in varying sizes, arrange them in a way that mimics a pyramid with a peak and a taper. Using this method helps otherwise disparate items feel more balanced to the eye and makes for much more interesting arrangements of objects.”

“Next, layer in smaller accessories. Accessories look great on top of a stack of books, but also work well in between stacks. If you collect a specifi c type of object, group them all together for maximum impact.”

“After you’ve placed your books, move on to placing your largest decorative objects, since you may have some size limitations and fewer options for where these pieces can go.”

“The most important thing when it comes to styling bookshelves? You have to have books! Place larger books with neutral coloredspines on the shelves at eye level. This will serve as the anchor of your bookcase. I like to group books of similar sizes and colors together because they look best in those combinations.”

“When I have a lot of books to choose from, I try to be mindful that the colors on the cover and spine of each book work with the overall decor of the space. Bookshelves provide a great opportunity for amplifying the color palette in a room. You can also tie in a color from a pretty fabric in the room by wallpapering or painting the backs of the bookcases.”