Bookcase Composition in the Age of Zoom and Virtual Tours

In today’s Age of Zoom and virtual tours, your bookcases are an extension of you, or Bookcase Compositionyour listing. Silently, its your message, your story, your credentials. So let’s talk about bookcase composition.

  • In tight shots, no matter if its a department meeting or the 2020 NFL Draft, details matter.
  • In longer shots like listing photos its the contrasts of color, the shapes, and the empty space that make bookcases “read”.

And even if you’re *just* looking to lighten up and refresh your space, re-working your bookcases is an easy, rewarding, no cost AND fail-proof way to snazz up your space.

Bookcase Composition #1 BeforeBookcase Composition #1 After








First, if your bookcases are full, and you want TRH to help you get a gazillion dollars for your about-to-be listed house, you need to edit down. In fact, if you’re even reading this post, chances are you need to edit down on something.

  • Edit books first, one shelf at a time
  • Tip any books that can go so the spine rests on the shelf.
  • Then-still one shelf at a time, get the tipped-down books in a box, and out of the house.

You’ll keep a good pace and actually get something done (i.e. not get lost in a book you haven’t touched this century). Questions about what might be valuable? Call Dave Greif, aka The Book Wrangler.

3 components make up bookcase composition: Books,  empty space, and stuff.  TRH recommends keeping the ratios equal.

Bookcase COmposition #2 BeforeBookcase Composition #2 After








  • Empty shelves, divide contents into books, or stuff.  
  • Start on upper farthest left shelf with 4-6 books. Place them mostly upright to (to define space), then work you way across the shelf, using the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 formula.
  • Mix up how and where you position books. They don’t all have to be vertical. A few laid horizontally against vertical ones become creative bookends.

Bookcase Composition #5

  • Small wall art (certificates or simply framed diplomas) place upright- on an easel, or just against back of the bookcase adds interest
  • Choose the bigger, brighter, most disparate, and vertical ‘stuff’ elements when you can. Lots of small things, or collections create blur, not contrast or interest. A single Lladros stands out more than than a gaggle of Hummels or Star Wars figurines.

Bookcase Composition #2 Before

Bookcase Composition #3 AfterTRH styles bookcases at every opportunity! We use what is owned, or supply what’s needed. 

Bookcase Composition #4 Bookcase composition is especially important in vacant properties. Eyeballs will linger, and be drawn to see the whole space. When styling bookshelves for listing photos : 

  • Choose aspirational hardcover books: biographies, history, art, travel.
  • Don’t overlook themes, or things that reinforce a propertys’ strong points
  • Local school sports gear/memorabilia in kids’ bookcases beats stuffed animals handily
  • If in-person walkthroughs are planned, be sure fragile, irreplaceable items are packed away, or at least out of kid-height. Parents get distracted and the kids won’t get your Star Wars figurines are collectibles, or that your painstakingly built replica schooner isn’t a toy.

Like mom’s meatloaf recipe, tweak to taste. A few extra books here or there, or a bunch of your Hummels/etc in one bookcase but spread out is probably going to make you just as happy.Bookcase COmposition #6