When artfully arranged, it can be a stylish inventory of interests, not just a storage unit. Here's how to go from cluttered to curated.
Steele Thomas Marcoux
1 of 6Photo: David Hillegas
Add some art.
Bookcases are not just for books—and art needn't be just for walls. Here's a fresh idea: Hang small artworks from the shelves themselves. (Paintings can be easily removed for access to your books.) Sea life accessories and other objects d'art will give bookcases an added coastal feel.
Decorative Crystal Ball on Stand, $150, and White Coral Sculpture on Glass Stand, $130; twoscompany.com for retailers
Painting built-ins a beachy shade that's different from the wall color makes them—and their contents—pop. Sandy taupe is a versatile choice, while an inky blue makes a bold statment. If you don't want to commit to a color for the whole shelf, warm turquoise on just the backs showcases your items beautifully.
Pretty patterned boxes keep less attractive items organized and out of sight. For collections that deserve to be seen, choose glass boxes that doube as display cases—perfect for shells picked up during walks on the beach.
Like a colorful necktie with a suit, bookends lend personality to a group of books. When placed on top of stacked titles, not just next to upright ones, these sculptural pieces get a chance to really shine.