7 Tips for Styling Shelves

Shelves are the perfect way to use vertical space while displaying some of your favorite things.  At the same time, you want them to be functional in addition to being a playful design element. Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to keep rearranging until you’re happy with what you see. The best part about styling shelves is you can keep moving things around. Nothing is permanent. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Wood open shelving in Jess Ann Kirby's kitchen is complete with decorative pieces and a bright flower
1. If you take anything away from this post let it be this. Curate, curate, curate. Accessories in your home are meant to celebrate your life, travels, and tell your story. Having random stuff stacked on your shelves that has zero meaning or purpose will make it look like you’re staging your home. Display things with sentimental value that you love and skip what you think needs to be there.
2. Create a color palette. It doesn’t need to be anything strict but featuring every color of the rainbow on your shelves will make them look scattered instead of calm and collected. Metallics are great to sprinkle in because they act as neutrals.
3. Use items like books, trays and decorative objects that can be placed both horizontally and vertically. It adds visual interest and keeps each shelf from looking too uniform.
4. Get ready for controversy here. Are you ready? Don’t group your books by color. It’s overdone and can end up looking a little juvenile. If you must color code your books, do it when the shelf is just a bookshelf. For a display shelf, spread out colors evenly and pay attention to displaying your prettiest covers. You need to edit the books you add just like you would anything else.
Jess Ann Kirby's wood open shelving is styled with succulents and books
The open shelving in Jess Ann Kirby's kitchen is complete with pink and copper accents
5. Add texture by including objects made from assorted materials to create visual interest. It adds a collected and curated vibe instead of feeling like a store display.
6. Personal and colorful framed pieces of art propped against the back of the bookshelf adds depth and helps to fill vertical space. Shelves are the perfect spots for smaller pieces that haven’t found a home on your walls too.
7. Don’t be afraid to place things on top of a stack of books. They can help to vary the height quickly and easily. And don’t forget a touch of the organic. A beautiful piece of driftwood, an aloe plant, dried eucalyptus—a touch of nature always looks beautiful and serene.

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  1. Sharon wrote:

    These are such great tips. Coincidentally I am currently styling the shelves in my office. I got a lot done yesterday but still have work to do. My husband and I have so many books and it’s hard to get rid of them but some of them are so ugly from being read so many times. I’m bookmarking this post for reference, thanks you!

    10.12.17 | Reply
  2. Vanessa wrote:

    I’m glad you called out all those people who arrange their books by colour – I can’t stand seeing that. You’re right, it’s overdone. The worst, though, are those people who arrange their books with the spines facing the wall. I never understood that – I mean, how are you supposed to find anything that way??

    10.16.17 | Reply

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