How to Style Shelves Like a Pro

how to style shelves display

One of the most difficult things to get right are shelves…what do I put on them, where and how many things should I have on there. The simple fact is that so many people get this wrong. The number of wonderfully stylish homes I have been to, are let down by the arrangements on shelves and their bookcases. In this post, we will show you how to style shelves… properly!

Open shelves are a wonderful way of showcasing your life. Over the years you may have picked up little pieces on your travels, been awarded trophies…or simply collected some nice pieces that mean much to you. Displaying these is a way of communicating to all what you are about and your personality.

The difficulty is the styling of it…what, where, when. How do I showcase my things in a manner that is stylish, eclectic and adds to the room? Luckily for you, there are a few golden rules that you can incorporate that not only makes your job easier, it delivers stylish shelves that will really make your room ‘pop’. Follow these steps and you will end up with incredibly stylish and balanced shelves that will add to the character of the room.

Use plants to add freshness

shelves ideas

The use of greenery on shelves is a wonderful way of breaking the standard straight lines we find on our shelves. Not only they do they add a wonderful color, they create a very natural feel to the room. Added texture is great and delivers a very natural balance. Consider adding drooping plants that draw the eye between shelves…but most plants will work. I highly recommend colorful succulents to brighten the scene.

Display frames and photographs

For that relaxed boho look, consider leaning photographs and frames on the wall. Not only do they look more ‘casual’, it also means that you don’t have to worry about putting holes in your wall…as well as the kerfuffle of lining them up straight on the wall.

picture frame shelves

Consider the rule of threes

This rule comes from the photography world. In essence, it breaks down a picture into three sections. The rule is that an off-center composition…photograph or shelf…is more pleasing to the eye than a composition where the main thing is placed in the middle. So, think of a portrait, the image of that person always looks better when it is to one side. In terms of shelves, this rule basically means that you should not load shelves from the middle, instead use the sides and work downwards leaving space in the middle.

Vary the height

picture frame shelf display

All to often, we are drawn to organizing things by height. This uniform height may look tidy but it does not engage visually. Try going the opposite route…vary things by height. Place your things in a way so that the eye is led up and down on the shelf. This creates a much more visually appealing experience and a more interesting look.

Putting your books first

In a digital world, all too often we no longer have physical things that reflect our knowledge or interests. If you do have a collection of books, show them off. Use them to create points of interest and balance to your open shelves. If you want to really style them, place them vertically and horizontally to break the visuals. There is also a trend of stacking them by color. This can create a wonderful visual impression and a fantastic color scene…it may make books more difficult to find if you have many, so beware!

shelf styling

Use neutral colors to color balance the room

shelf styling tips

I discussed the merits of organizing things by color but in this example, we will consider the merits of creating a shelf with a very neutral color tone. This may be applicable in a room where you have a very neutral theme and the shelf is part of the look. You may also want to not draw attention to that particular wall; hence the neutral looking contents fade into the background. Whatever the purpose, when done well, they can really deliver a designer feel.

Make things personal

Your shelves should tell a story…a story about you. Forget all the generic stuff, all the things that you think look nice, things that match…make things more personal. Let any visitors that reflect on the contents of your shelf, see the real you. What you like, what your interests are, be it books or a display of vintage cameras…it’s you on a shelf! Of course, not every shelf has to be about you, but if you have the space, I would highly recommend that you afford yourself this self-indulgence.

I hope this article on how to style shelves will help take your interior design to the next level. Remember, most things have some kind of plan behind them…it’s not often that it is ad-hoc. These are tried and tested methods that work. If you found this article useful, please consider sharing it on your social media. Until the next time… Natalie x

how to style shelves
How to style shelves

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