Shelf Styling 101

I get a lot of compliments on my shelves so today I thought I'd share a few shelf styling tips with you! I think shelves are a great way to display decor and add character to a home without "junking up" every surface or taking up too much space in a room. While decorating isn't a science, there are a few guidelines you can follow to guarantee a clean, sophisticated, and stylish look. I'm going to use just one bookcase in my home to demonstrate all of my tips for you so you can see them all in action, working together to create a cohesive look.

**Please don't take these tips as strict rules, decorating is an art and you have to stick with what looks good and feels right to you. A lot of these tips can be used together and others might contradict at times, it's all a balance. Just enjoy the process and don't be afraid to have fun and experiment with your space!

1. Break it up

Starting is the hardest part. So my tip for starting is to break up the bookcase into sections and style one section at a time. I tend to split my shelves down the middle so I style the left side of a shelf, then the right. But you'll see with a lot on the bookcases in my home that I'll have a shelf that isn't divided at all and will work as one long space rather than two. I usually fill this long space with books, but it's great if you have a long decor piece you're working with or a collection you would like to display.


2. Utilize texture to elevate your look

When I talk about texture, I don't just mean fabric and textiles. On my shelf, texture can range from the aged paper in my books, the ware on my baskets and frames, the metallic shine from my gold items, the full, leafy plants, etc. By mixing things that are soft and hard, new and worn, natural and manmade, you'll create something that is not only interesting to look at, but that invokes a feeling just by looking at it which will help bring a room to life.


3. Work your white space

One thing I struggle with when it comes to styling is having too many pieces displayed and too many things going on in one spot. When decorating, much like with art, your "white space" or the blank space where nothing is going on is often just as important as the space you DO have decorated. If every inch of every shelf is filled, you're going to end up with a cluttered mess and none of your decor pieces will really stand out. Even if you have the most beautiful decor details, everything will blend together into one busy mess.

The eye needs a visual break to fully see and appreciate what is in a space so don't be afraid to have empty spots on your shelf.

I blacked out the decor on my shelf to give you a clear visual of how much white space I left.


4. Use neutrals as a tool to make your colors pop

Most of the decor in my home is on the neutral side and that isn't because I don't like color. I'm all about deep, rich color, but I find those colors stand out and look even deeper and richer when surrounded by neutrals. Working with a neutral "base" for your space will also allow you to make a big impact with minimal changes when it comes to the holidays.

On this shelf, I'd say my "pop" colors are deep teal blue, mustard yellow, natural greens, and a couple hints of scarlet. My neutral colors are white, cream, gold, and various browns.


5. Create height

If everything on your shelf is the same height, your look will fall flat. You need to create dimension and variation to keep the eye interested and a great way to achieve this is by varying the height of your decor. This can be working with some small and some large pieces, adding plants that are different shapes, staggering the books you use as well as getting creative with how those books are placed, etc. There's lots of fun and interesting ways to create height when styling. And don't hesitate to use some sideways books, small suitcases, upside down baskets, whatever you can find as an "upper" to raise up other decor items! Kind of like making a mini shelf on your shelf!


6. This is your HOME. Add some personal touches

Don't forget that you're styling, not staging. This is YOUR space not an impersonal model home!! Yes, we want to create beautiful, swoon-worthy spaces in our homes that look like they're straight out of a magazine, but don't forget to add a few special family photos or maybe some souvenirs from your travels! Feature some of your favorite books in a prominent spot or choose your favorite color to make "pop". Your home is a reflection of you and your family and what you love.


I absolutely love styling shelves so I hope these tips are useful for you in your decorating endeavors! I'll be redecorating a set of shelves in my home soon so I'll most likely have even more tips for you in the very near future! And again, there isn't a set formula for decorating so try out different looks and find what works for you and your space!