How I Styled Our Built-Ins

To me, there is nothing more fun than styling open shelving and built-ins. There is definitely an art form to it, which I talked about a lot in this post from the archives. But now in the cabin, we have a totally different styling to tackle: the built-in shelving in our living room! It’s like a #shelfie but a bigger scale. As soon as we painted it green, I knew it would be the ultimate canvas for me to play with. So today I wanted to have you a cubby-by-cubby tour of it and why I chose the objects that are on display.

Tour Our Built-Ins & Learn How to Style Built-In Shelving. Styling and decor tips from a pro, how to style a shelves and curate books and vintage decor. Green built in bookshelves

Tour Our Built-Ins & Learn How to Style Built-In Shelving

To me, this spot in our cabin is THE place to display all of my most favorite and cherished pieces… and to house my small cookbook collection. I wanted it to feel very personal, curated, and special while also functioning as a mini library. Here’s a breakdown of each cubby and what’s in them!

Tour Our Built-Ins & Learn How to Style Built-In Shelving. Styling and decor tips from a pro, how to style a shelves and curate books and vintage decor. Green built in bookshelves

Top left

I kept things simple on this shelf. The tiny oval picture frame is actually a baby photo of Sean that used to live on my nightstand. It’s accompanied by a vintage glass decanter with a sailboat in it… this is basically the Sean Shelf!

Top middle

The middle shelf is the only one that I kept tall, so I knew I needed to make it a ‘moment.’ I started by hanging a vintage miniature painting because I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of hanging artwork inside of a built-in. It’s so chic! Then I added a stack of vintage books, a wooden carved chicken, long taper in a Paper & Clay holder, and bowl of matches. In the evenings, I light the taper and it’s the perfect amount of illumination in this corner.

Tour Our Built-Ins & Learn How to Style Built-In Shelving. Styling and decor tips from a pro, how to style a shelves and curate books and vintage decor. Green built in bookshelves

Upper Right

To balance out the shape of the glass decanter to the left, I styled a ceramic pitcher from my collection with preserved protea blooms (similar). Add in a few leaning books and that’s that! BTW, that dreamer’s dictionary belonged to my mom as a kid and even still has four leaf clovers pressed between the pages.

Upper Middle Left

This is probably my favorite of all the shelves… it’s my dried wedding bouquet!! This was the last cubby for me to style and I was struggling. I knew I had the bouquet upstairs and had never known what to do with it. But then I also couldn’t bear to part with it. So on a whim, I popped it into a vintage basket and it feels perfect to me. I always recommend adding sweet, personal touches like this when styling built-ins!

Tour Our Built-Ins & Learn How to Style Built-In Shelving. Styling and decor tips from a pro, how to style a shelves and curate books and vintage decor. Green built in bookshelves

Upper Middle Right

Continuing my theme of keeping things personal when styling your home… this cubby contains a printed photo from our wedding! It’s weird, I’m not one who usually hangs family photos around their home, but it feels right to do so now in the cabin. Just a little subtle touch is all it takes in my book. I added a tiny Delft dachshund figurine from a trip to Amsterdam and a fossilized rock.

Tour Our Built-Ins & Learn How to Style Built-In Shelving. Styling and decor tips from a pro, how to style a shelves and curate books and vintage decor. Green built in bookshelves

Upper Bottom Left

You know that I can’t say no to vintage artwork (check out my tips for finding the best pieces), so I added this landscape painting. I love how the tones of it mimic the brass of the vintage hourglass. It’s complete thanks to a walnut dachshund that dear friends gave us as a wedding gift!

Upper Bottom Middle

This blue fabric covered box holds my favorite keepsakes like my Aura photograph, love letters from Sean, and anything else that feels special. I topped it with a vintage glass vase in the shape of a chicken (yes, we call it the chicken bong jokingly), and my faaave styling element, these wooden links. I cannot recommend picking up a set of links enough. They add a chic, curated vibe that makes any shelfie feel elevated instantly. Gotta love a good drape!

Upper Bottom Right

Sometimes all you need to style your built-ins is the perfect stack of vintage books! I chose an odd number because I find that to be more visually appealing and gathered books in a color palette that I love. The pale blues and pink really pop against the green. And if you look closely at the vintage tin (it holds extra palo santo sticks), the books match colors in the print!

Tour Our Built-Ins & Learn How to Style Built-In Shelving. Styling and decor tips from a pro, how to style a shelves and curate books and vintage decor. Green built in bookshelves

Bottom Shelves

I hope you don’t think I phoned it in for the three bottom shelves! I needed a place to store my cookbook collection that was near the kitchen, but not in the kitchen… and our library nook is upstairs (aka too far to be practical). Now I can sit on the floor and rifle through the books until I find what I want to make. It’s worked out quite well and I love that the books are arranged in rainbow order. Makes my eyeballs happy!

Tour Our Built-Ins & Learn How to Style Built-In Shelving. Styling and decor tips from a pro, how to style a shelves and curate books and vintage decor. Green built in bookshelves

I actually almost tore out these built-ins before we did the living room makeover because they are sort of poorly constructed. If you look close at the images, you can see what I mean! But just like our doors, I painted them green and suddenly didn’t mind them! If anything, the built-ins serve as a way to display personality in our home and I really love them now. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Photography, styling, and interior design by Jojotastic.

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest digital influencer and former textile designer with an eye for beautiful things. Jojotastic is a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress home, interior styling, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style.

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