Having your personal touch in a home, I believe is extremely important. Guests normally get a feel of the owners style or personality when they see a certain personal corner or display in the home. To me a shelf is just that. You can have shelves displayed in an orderly way or it can have toys placed on it. It can have vases, frames, ornaments, letters, shells, ceramics or just plain books and it will always reflect a certain part of the owners character. I placed our bookshelf in our kitchen a while back and simply love it there, because it holds my plates, vases, cook books, wooden bowls which in turn, leaves ample cupboard space for food and other kitchen items. Shelving to me also creates a homey feel to any room. Having placed the shelves in the kitchen, I had to find another area for our books, so we took off the old doors to an unused cupboard in our room, I painted it white and placed the books there. I like them there for now.
A way to brighten up an old shelf space, if attached to the wall is to paint the background to suit your mood/season/room. Check out these colourful shelving options from Real Simple online.
Here are some stunning shelving ideas from Skona Hem. (I apologise there was no notification on the translation on Skona Hem of who the photographers were, I apologise for not being able to credit anyone.)