Styling shelves may feel like an intimidating task but it doesn’t have to be! Beautifully styled shelves can transform any room, adding character, charm, and a sense of your unique taste. If you’re new to shelf styling, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll explore 5 practical tips to help you create stunning shelf displays and effortlessly enhance your home decor.
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Tip #1: Start with a Blank Canvas
Start with clearing the shelves by removing all the items and clutter. You want to start with a clean slate and mind. Clearing off the shelves will help you visualize the potential of your space and reduce distractions.
Once you have an empty shelves, decide on your styling theme. Do you prefer a minimalist and simple look, or maximalist? Your theme will guide your decor choices, so make sure it aligns with your personal taste.
Also, consider a color palette that complements each other and your room’s overall theme. Shop your own home first before going out to purchase new items. I have a collection of thrifted pieces that I have collected over time. I like to see what I can use first before buying new.
Tip #2: Create Balance
Balance is the key to successful shelf styling. It’s all about arranging items in a way that feels visually pleasing. To achieve balance, decide whether you want a symmetrical look, where both sides of the shelves mirror each other, or an asymmetrical look for a more casual and dynamic feel.
I like a more asymmetrical, casual look. This is the approach I took when I styled our DIY built-in bookshelves.
Start with placing your bigger items on the shelves first. Mix items of different heights and shapes to create interest. Taller items like vases or candleholders can be placed beside shorter items like books or decorative objects.
Group smaller decorative items in odd-numbered groupings, such as three items together. Odd-numbered groupings tend to be more visually appealing than even-numbered ones. I don’t always follow this rule during my styling but do find it helpful in many circumstances.
Tip#3: Selecting Your Styling Essentials
Picking the right decorative items is crucial for shelf styling. There are lots of options to choose from. Here are some popular choices:
1. Books: Books are timeless decor items. They add character and can be both functional and aesthetic. Arrange them horizontally and vertically for a diverse look.
I love going to thrift stores to look for books. Choosing books that I’m interested in and compliment my color theme. I also like to remove the protective cover from the hardcover. Some of the hardcovers actually look better with the protector off and make them look vintage.
2. Art and Frames: Hang artwork or place photo frames on your shelves. This personalizes the space and adds a touch of nostalgia.
I like to use vintage frames and print free vintage art. The National Gallery of Art along with lots of other resources online allow you to print vintage art for free!
You can add your personal photos to vintage frames too!
Don’t want to go digging through thrift stores for vintage frames? Here are some of my favorites you can find online.
- 1. 11X14 Ornate Finish Photo Frame
- 2. 8X10 Ornate Wine Red Frame
- 3. Classic Bead 8X10 Picture Frame
- 4. Vintage 5X7 Photo Frame
- 5. Vintage 3×3 Round Picture Frame
- 6. Vintage 8X10 Picture Frame Black Oval with Gold Trim
- 7. Antique 4X4 Picture Frame
- 8. 5X7 Oval Bronze Gold Picture Frame
- 9. Vintage 4X6 Picture Frame
- 10. 8X10 Picture Frame with Corner Flower Decor
- 11.Gold & Green Vintage 5×7/8X10 Picture Frame
3. Plants and Greenery: Potted plants infuse life and freshness into your shelves. Plants also contribute to a healthy atmosphere.
4. Candles and Lighting: Use candles, fairy lights, or small lamps to create a cozy ambiance, especially in the evenings. I like to use vintage candlestick holders to place on top of books.
5. Storage Boxes: Use decorative storage boxes or baskets to keep smaller items organized and add a touch of sophistication.
Tip #4: The Art of Layering
Layering is the secret to making your shelves look inviting and textured. Here’s the approach I take.
- Place some items in front of others to create depth by leaning a piece of art against the back of the shelf and position a decorative item in front of it.
- Mix textures like glass, wood, metal, and fabric to create contrast and visual interest.
- Place items on trays or decorative platters can give your shelves a sense of cohesion and organization.
- Stack books or small decor items can add dimension and a playful aspect to your shelves.
Section 5: The Final Touch – Editing
The final step in shelf styling involves the crucial process of editing. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that less can often be more. Take a step back and carefully assess your styled shelves. Additionally, it’s important to acknowledge that this phase typically involves a significant amount of trial and error. I find myself consistently stepping back every single time I move an item to ensure it’s just right.
Ensure that your shelves serve as a showcase for your favorite pieces; however, be prepared to remove any items that feel excessive or cluttered. Moreover, there’s no need to feel compelled to add all the decor you’ve selected.
Styling shelves is a dynamic and ever-evolving process; therefore, do not hesitate to experiment with rearranging items and revitalizing your shelving whenever you desire a change.
I hope that these styling tips help you be on your way to becoming a shelf styling pro. Happy Styling!