How to Style a Shelf

Besides their obvious function, shelves are a great way to elevate your space and add some visual interest. It may be daunting looking at an empty built in, or perhaps a messy bookcase, but you can style it like a pro by following these 5 steps: 

  1. Consider scale of the shelf to the objects you’ll be using to fill it. You need larger, or more items for the bigger shelf. You can still add small decor pieces by layering them. Similarly, for a small shelf, you don’t want to include objects that will overpower it and seem cramped. Make sure there’s a balance.  
  2. Create a consistent color story with the displayed objects, as well as with the room where the shelf is placed. Same goes for the style – whatever style the room is, the accessories should go with it. You can play with color-coding your book collection, or keeping it neutral with pops of color or metallics.  
  3. Where to begin? Gather the pieces you’d like to include. Start with big to small order of placement. Create groupings of items that go well together. Check their relationship to other objects – you want to have different elevations (height) so it’s more dynamic, but also add rhythm by repeating decor of similar size or heigh. 
  4. When it comes to stacking books make sure to include both vertical and horizontal stacks. You can group them by topic, color, or size. If the book spines are cracked, too colorful, or just seem messy, the old staging trick is to flip them inward so only the white pages show, which looks clean and neutral. 
  5. Besides books, there are so many decorative items you can use to dress the shelf. Mix up accessories – pick a few interesting objects, some decorative boxes, dishes, candles, small plants, and picture frames. Make sure to include different materials and textures. Use fillers to add layers and fill the space.  

Happy decorating!

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