Styling Shelves: Tips and Tricks to Elevate Your Home Decor

Shelves are excellent and necessary storage, but they can also be a creative way to showcase your personality and elevate any room with stunning focal points.  Reading this is your first step to ensure you are creating a personal, functional, and eye appealing areas.  Shelf styling can feel like a burden when they become catch-all spaces and hold everything that doesn’t have a home.  We are here to help guide you to shelves that look picture perfect.  In some homes shelves maybe the only storage space you have available, so let’s dive right in and get started on how to deal with function as well as keeping things appealing. 

Getting started

Before you begin styling your shelves, it’s important to start with a clean slate. Remove all items from the shelves and give them a good dusting. This allows you to have a fresh canvas and truly gage how much space you are working with to utilize it best.  If shelving or bookcases need an update this is the time to assess how you can do this.  Mobile shelving can be moved to change up the layout of a room and rearrange shelf décor for a new feel.  A fresh coat of paint or wallpaper added to shelves or drawers are generally the first choices when wanting to update without purchasing new. 

After cleaning off the shelves start at eye level with your decorating using your most frequented or center piece items.

Think function first

Think about the function of your shelves. Are they meant to display books, kitchen/pantry supplies, office items, or a combination of decorative and functional items? Understanding the function will help you determine the layout and the types of items you should include or exclude. If storage is the shelfs main use, such as in a close, how can you elevate it to be visually pleasing? Decorative baskets may become your new best friend. Baskets are a great way to change out seasonal items easily or rotate children’s toys and cloths.

You need to pare down items you have collected over the years to ensure your selves are not over stuffed. People often get upset about this advice, but rest assured we are not saying to go out and burn items that do not fit on your shelves. You need a “storage” space for overflow items that can be rotated into your shelves. This is as easy as a tote of items keep out of sight in a shed, attic, garage, or even off property storage. Utilizing items you already have but rotating them to keep things fresh throughout the year. It also allows you to keep personal or sentimental items without it creating a feeling of overwhelming clutter.

Finding your shelf style

People always wonder how to style….well get creative by starting with sorting. Create groupings of your like items for each room and shelf. Start with books as this is generally an item people have loads of and need to remove what is not needed. Continue the same process in each room or shelf area. Once you have your groups you can easily add plants or photos/heirlooms to personalize your arrangements. Example: you have a favorite book series as a group; you can showcase the title or turn the books around and position them on the shelf as desired, finally add your personal touches (photos, personal art work, or souvenirs) to complete the shelf.

When creating functional shelf styling consider what items you use daily and more frequently for the space you are styling. These items need to be easily accessed, so on lower reachable shelves where they are easy to grab. In areas where shelves are also used for storage decorative baskets or boxes are great ways to hide objects that don’t display well, such as children’s toys (lets be honest this is generally a box of random rocks).  Use items of varying heights and sizes to create visual interest and prevent a monotonous look from shelf to shelf.  

Shelf styling is consistently an ongoing process that you can update a much or as little as you would like. Regularly editing and refresh your shelves to keep them looking fresh and interesting. Swap out items, rearrange them, and experiment with new ideas to keep your shelves evolving with your style.  Decorating your shelves is an opportunity to showcase your personality and interests.  Include personal items such as travel souvenirs, family photos, or sentimental objects to make your shelves truly unique. *Note if you are staging to sell remove all personal items.

Get creative finding balance

Breaking up your shelves into sections half or thirds and aim to have find balance with the decorative items you silect.  This may mean you need to leave some empty space between items, also know as visual space.  This ensures the shelves have breathing room and do not feel cluttered.  Balance is key when it comes to shelf styling. This doesn’t mean thing has to be exact, don’t be afraid to play around and rearrange until you find a balance that is right for you.  

Aim for a mix of heights, textures, and colors to create visual interest. For example, you can place taller items at the back and shorter items at the front to add depth.  Symmetry can create a sense of order and harmony, while asymmetry can add a touch of whimsy and creativity. Experiment with both approaches to find the style that suits your taste.  Tip: don’t leave small items on their own, place them in a group of objects. 

Using color

Consider adding pops of color to brighten up your shelves and draw the eye to certain elements. Color can come from decorative items, glasses, vases, or even books.  Books are not only meant for reading; they can also be used as decorative elements. Stack them horizontally or vertically to add height and variation to your shelves. You can also arrange them by color for a visually pleasing effect especially in children’s areas.  Use neutral like colors to tie everything together.

Plants and flowers can also breathe life and color into your shelves. Consider adding small potted plants or vases with fresh flowers to bring a touch of nature indoors. Not only will they add color, but they will also purify the air (if you chose living plants) and create a more calming atmosphere.  Create a sense of balance and symmetry by placing items of similar weight and size on opposite sides. 

Be open to mix and match different materials on your shelves. Combine wood, metal, glass, and ceramic to add texture and visual appeal that keeps the eye entertained.  Make sure the materials complement each other and fit the overall theme of your space. 

Even unseen areas can look beautiful and be functional. Notice how this space needs to be accessible for other uses in this case the water unit but can still but utilized for maximum efficiency. Visually hidden in a decorate purposeful way.

In conclusion

The art of shelf styling is all about creativity, balance, and personal expression. By following these tips and ideas, you can transform your shelves into captivating displays that reflect your unique style and enhance your home decor. So, go ahead and unleash yourself to create stunning shelf arrangements that will leave a lasting impression on anyone who enters your space.  Remember, there is no one right way to style shelves. It’s all about finding what works for you and your personal style.  Don’t forget to shop our links for great decorative shelving finds and inspiration here. If you truly feel overwhelmed consult a professional for help and inspiration.