Struggling with how to decorate an empty shelf in your home? In this post I share my method for creating beautifully styled shelves and bookcases every time. No interior design experience required!
The Secret to Styling Shelves and Bookcases …
Over the years I have styled a ton of shelves and bookcases. Most of them have been in my own home, but I have also used my tips and tricks for creating beautifully styled shelves in others homes too!
The beauty of this simple technique is you don’t have to run out and buy a whole bunch of brand new decor. You also don’t need to be an experienced interior designer. I’m not.
Even self taught home decorators like me, and most likely you, can create beautiful designer quality shelves in our homes.
You need a game plan!
I had to learn the hard way how important it is to have a game plan when it comes to decorating shelves. I used to stand and stare at the blank shelves in our first home I ever shared on my blog (back when it was called hmydearblog.com and I knew NOTHING about decorating) and be close to tears over that overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to even begin.
Its been 7 years since I started my blog and over the years I have picked up on a few tips and tricks and now I know you can save so much time decorating a bookcase or floating shelf if you have a game plan before you even begin!
My Method for Decorating Shelves –
Decorating shelves can feel really daunting and leave you unsure of where to start! At least thats how I felt when I first tried decorating our shelves. I was often in tears trying to figure out how to decorate shelves without it taking forever to find the right balance, and look I was going for.
Over the years though I have fine tuned a method I use whenever I am styling shelves and I promise if you give it a shot next time you are decorating the end result will be perfectly styled shelves, every time!
My method for decorating shelves is all about the placement of the objects I use. I am going to style our shelves in three different ways with objects from around our house, but I will be using the same method of placement to show you how easy this is to apply in your own homes.
Check out my video below for How to Decorate Shelves:
Some of my favourite shelf decor websites
Always start with your top shelf and work your way down. Starting on the top shelf you are going to place decor from one end of the shelf to the other, covering the majority of the shelf.
For the best look you can leave some space empty on either end of the shelf.
A key ingredient to designer quality shelves is layering home decor in varying heights. For instance take a look at the photo below. On the top shelf I have not only layered decor from one end to the there I have made sure I used decor that ranged in height.
Adding in height and the importance of scale
Some ideas for taller objects would be plants like a snake plant that can grow very tall, larger pictures placed vertically or horizontally, and large decorative objects or candle sticks.
You want to make sure you are adding in enough larger scale items that your shelf doesn’t look like a bunch of clutter is on it. Your end goal is for the bookcase or shelf to look curated and thought out, not piled high with every pretty thing you own stuffed onto it.
Once you have your top shelf styled you can move on to the shelf below it. On this shelf we are now going to group our decor into two sections instead of spreading it across the length of the shelf.
As you can see in the photo above this doesn’t mean you can only use one object on either side of the shelf, though you could if you prefer a more minimalist look.
You can layer multiple decorative objects in a pleasing way but the most important part is leaving some blank space, or white space, in between the two groupings.
The goal is to have a stylized look too our shelves, instead of looking like we just have a bunch of objects thrown on there. We want it to look intentional, and the two groups on the bottom also helps give our eye somewhere to rest and looks more visually appealing.
Repeat. This method works regardless of how many floating shelves or bookcase shelves you have. Just continue to do the next shelf with decor across the width of the shelf and then the next shelf in two groupings and so on until all your shelves are decorated.
How to know your shelf looks right
When I am done I like to stand back and take a photo to help me see if anything more needs to be added or maybe something’s need to be removed.
Taking a photo or at least looking through a camera really does help with noticing things you might not have otherwise.
Its also VERY helpful to walk away from the space you are decorating and come back later.
Interior design styles
The great thing about this method is it works for any type of design style.
Below I have shared a more minimalist look with very little decor used but the same method of layering the decor in groupings on each shelf.
If your style is more farmhouse you would just use more farmhouse decor and less boho or mid century pieces.
If your style is more modern again you would use less decor, and mostly large scale items and very little small scale items.
TIPS & IDEAS FOR WHAT TO PUT ON YOUR SHELVES
I hope you found this post and video helpful! Adding in floating shelves or decorating your built in shelving is a great way t add personality to your home.
Once you have a formula thats easy to follow it can also be really fun! It’s also an easy way to change and switch up your decor as your tastes and style change!
I wanted to share some ideas for what you can actually use to style your shelves.
- Plants, plants and more plants. Plants are super on trend at the moment. They are also a great way to add LIFE into your design! I always recommend having at least one plant for every three shelves you are styling.
- Texture. Look for fun woven baskets, wooden prayers beads and little boxes to add texture to your shelves.
- Candle holders. You can go for traditional candle holders or quirky fun ones like my little brass bunny. They are a great addition to any shelf design no matter your design preference.
- Books. Of course! I like to keep my books cohesive with my color scheme for the rest of my room, but you don’t have to! I almost always use books when I decorate a shelf.
- Vases. You don’t have to use vases only when you have something to fill them with. Sometimes and empty vase is even better than having flowers it. It’s large and structural but gives your eye a rest.
- Pictures, art prints and photos.
- Risers. Risers are a great way to add depth to your shelf decor. They are also great for layering. We sell two styles of risers in our shop Revival Goods. We have a mini display stool and a round wooden mid century riser.
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