Yes, it is a thing! I’d say over 90% of the clients homes that I consult on need help in this area of their home when it comes time to sell. Bookshelves often are over stuffed, cluttered, and disorganized. The same holds true with glass door display cabinets and china cabinets. It is okay when there are doors on cabinets to conceal this clutter, but when you have beautiful built-in shelving or standalone bookcases, you should style these pieces to create an attractive display in your home.
To style your shelves, you’ll want to start with a clean slate and remove all existing personal property in the shelves and clean them thoroughly before you begin. I recommend having a combination of hardcover books, framed family photos, silk plants, and home décor accessories on hand to style your shelves. Feel free to include souvenirs and personal momentos from trips you’ve taken over the years as part of your accessory collection. You might have some beer steins from your trip to Germany or an Eifel tower statue from that trip to France to complement your display and give it a personal touch.
Start by creating both horizontal and vertical groupings of books on various shelves. Mingle in your accessories and greenery. As you start to fill your shelves, strive for a balanced and symmetrical presentation in your display. If your shelves need to be truly functional, for example in your office, there are many stores (including regular office supply stores) that sell decorative file and storage boxes that you can use in place of the books. Lastly, if you want to take it up a notch, consider adding an accent color on the back wall of your shelves or install wallpaper to add texture and warmth. I am providing some photos here to illustrate some of these suggestions and inspire you.