How To Style Shelving

Follow our guide and top tips to achieve visually cohesive and perfectly curated shelving. Getting it just right takes some practice and patience as well as some trial and error.

1. Start bare

Make sure you take everything off the shelves to start with so that you have a completely clean slate, this will help you to get it right and see everything more clearly. You don’t want them to look too cluttered so it’s important to be selective.

2. Gather your items

Collect objects of various shapes and sizes such as vases, bowls, boxes, photo frames, books, candles, plants etc. Using unique, decorative objects or sculptures can bring a lot of personality and help create interest. These could be pieces you’ve collected on your travels, treasured family heirlooms or timeless pieces from our collection. I would recommend having a general colour palette in mind and perhaps focus on 2-3 accent colours, then keep the rest of the items fairly plain and neutral tones. 

3. Balancing act

Accessorising shelving is all about balance. Start by filling your shelves with your largest and heaviest items first. This will help to get the right scale and keep the shelves looking balanced. You can then add in the smaller items to work with these. Try to vary the layout and formula of each shelf. It can look very effective if you allow some of the taller/larger items to stand alone and then have different sizes of groups of some of the smaller items. You want the eye to dance around your shelves so it looks best if you have items of varying heights and sizes. You want to keep varying the relationships between your items so that you have items that take up space horizontally and items that take up space vertically. You do not want everything to be symmetrical, people often fall into a bad habit of placing everything in a straight line on a shelf however it will be seen from varying angles.

4. Add books

Switching up the positioning of books and aligning them vertically and horizontally helps to make the shelves feel more dynamic and interesting. Create little stacks that you can use to elevate certain objects and mix up the positioning of books aligning some stacks to the left, right or centre of a shelf to help balance the weight of the styling. There are lots of options when accessorising with books, you can face the spines inwards, outwards or you can casually leave the book displayed open on your favourite page. Having books that are personal to you helps your space to feel more homely and unique.

5. Add artwork or photographs

One of my favourite additions to any shelf styling is a beautiful piece of art, it’s a great way to pick up on the different colour accents throughout the room and add some movement to the space. Consider placing your artwork towards the back of the shelf and layer smaller decorative items in front. Framed photographs also create a personal touch to the shelves and by layering items and utilising the depth of the shelf you will create a more curated and considered feel. Play with scale and feel free to use both landscape and portrait art together. Artwork doesn’t have to be expensive, there are some beautiful prints out there or if you’re feeling adventurous you could try and create your own artwork.

6.  Add some plants or flowers

The best way to breathe some life into the space is to add some plants or flowers. Give your shelves another layer of texture and colour. Plants are an affordable way to accessorise your home. If you struggle to keep your plants alive or perhaps there isn’t enough light reaching the shelves there are some amazing artificial plants that have the same visual impact. I also love to drape a plant on the edge of a shelf and let it cascade to the shelves beneath it. You can use a variety of pots, bowls or baskets to place them in.

7. Mix textures

Texture is very important to keep in mind when styling shelves especially when you are using a more neutral colour palette. Mix smooth things with rough, shiny with matte, keep the eye moving with variety. You can use woven and natural elements like woods and baskets, glass, ceramics, marble, metals, stone, the options are endless, make it interesting!

8. Step back and edit

Sometimes less is more and embracing a little negative space you can give the rest of your shelf styling room to breathe. We want to achieve a curated look rather than cluttered. Take a step back and assess, don’t be afraid to play around and get creative.

We'd love to hear how your shelf styling turns out! Leave a comment below or any questions you might have. Please tag us in your 'shelfies' on social media, we would love to see the end result. Good luck and have fun!


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