The consensus is this: styling your shelves is extremely hard. You ride this fine line between too bare, styled well, or full-fledge hoarder. You can easily have too little and it looks bare, have too much and it looks cluttered, or you can have just the right amount and it looks perfection. But how do you achieve this in your home? How do you choose the right pieces, the right heights, the right groupings, the right color palette? Today, I’m sharing my pieces that I used to style my shelves, how I choose the groupings and locations, and the fool-proof methods that all designers use to style shelves.
Yes, there are “rules” that designers focus on when styling shelves around a home and I’m going to share them with you today, BUT in home decor, there really aren’t any rules. It’s what makes you feel good about your space. It’s what brings you warmth and coziness. Stick with what works for you and use these as just a reference.
Choose a Color Palette
Walk around your home and look for the colors that you use most frequently. You’ll want your shelves to reflect those colors and metals to keep your home a cohesive space where each room flows well into the next. In my home, I have a variety of blues, greens, soft whites, golds, and blacks. You’ll see how I use each of these colors and tones in my shelves through the use of my books, my large and small decor pieces, and my frames.
Choose your Height Pieces First
Large sculpture pieces, vases, or frames an definitely stand alone while smaller sculptural items should be grouped in pairs or serve as an accent item to a vignette or stack of books. On my shelves, I add my largest pieces – landscape oil, large vase and eucalyptus, painted vases – first to my shelves and arranged them so that there was symmetry on both sides. Adding a large vase on one side? Flank it on the opposite side with a large vase there, as well. Have an arrangement of vases on one side? Add them on the opposite side in a different position to keep it symmetrical, but yet not the exact same.
Adding framed pieces that are propped up or are even hung on the back wall of the shelves will draw your eyes to the back of the shelves and bring so much dimension to the space. You’ll have so many pieces that are in the forefront, it will be a beautiful added touch to draw them back, as well. This is also a great way to showcase your style by choosing art pieces that most reflect YOU. I chose a landscape oil of Montana that brought in a moodiness to the space and showcases one our very favorite places.
The first step to styling your shelves is to choose the decor pieces that most accurately show YOU. In my home, I’m doing a major turnover to more gold and brass so I focus my decor on gold accents to accompany those gold fixtures around my home. Then I begin to choose books that I want to showcase or help to add height and dimension to my smaller pieces. Sneak Peak: This Dolly Parton book is a showstopper, a conversation piece, and a great addition to any home!
My shelves were built with the middle shelf larger than the other two to allow for much more height in the middle. This was a personal design choice when building these shelves that gives me the ability to add large photos, tall vases, or a lamp in these spaces. That’s where I focus next. What do I want to showcase on these shelves? They are right on eye-line and can be a major center point for your eyes. I like to keep it simple with muted colors but with distinct lines and shape to keep it interesting.
From there, I like to choose pieces that are interesting to me and bring in similar colors and tones. I have a lot of white and blacks against wood tones around my home, so I created the painted vases using creamy whites and blacks (see it all done and how to do it yourself on my ‘Painted Vase’ highlight on Instagram!) and situated them around wooden candle holders and a wicker basket. I have a lot of greenery around my home so I placed a few artificial plants stacked on books or placed in front of photos to add height, depth, and interest with their different textures. Finally, I placed an acrylic book holder, a white and gold star, and stackable boxes (Home Goods find) to add in different elements that I enjoyed. These can be anything that interests you around your home, something that is meaningful to your family, or something that you pick up off the shelves of Home Goods that just looks cool. Stacking these pieces or grouping them with something else is a great way to add dimension!
I know how difficult styling shelves can be and I know it can be as overwhelming as a blank canvas to an artist, but with the right plan, you can create a beautiful backdrop to your home and add so much interest to your walls!
Need help finding the right book to display or something beautiful to make a focal point? Books can be a great display and such wonderful conversation pieces in your home! Try out some of my favorites that can be read, displayed as art, or just something to get the conversation going!