How to style a shelf

How to style a shelf

Styling a shelf is one of the most difficult decorating challenges there is. Finding the perfect styling for your shelf takes time, but fortunately, there are a couple of design principles you can use to get great results fast. So let’s get to it and learn how to style a shelf!

We all want to display our favorite things in a beautiful way. However, that’s not an easy thing to achieve. If we display too many items we risk making the self look cluttered. Although using too few things might make the self feel undecorated.

In design, we always want to achieve the same things, even if we start from a different place each time we decorate. We want to achieve balance, flow, and cohesiveness. Luckily there are rules that can help us achieve these things.

Start with a blank canvas

It’s impossible to visualize how you want your shelf to look if it is already full of items. So make sure to start with clearing out your space and clean it before you get to decorating.

Once you start to place your items on the shelf again, start with the largest pieces and work your way out from there.

Use groups of three

Always group items in three or in an uneven number. It is easier to achieve balance with an unsymmetric arrangement, rather than in symmetric arrangements. Make sure to have some duplicate or similar items that you put into the different groups. Using similar items creates a theme or a thread in the styling which ties the whole design together.

Work in triangles

If you have a multilayer shelf or bookcase you want to mirror the arrangements or alternate the object’s placement to create a zig-zag line. This draws in the eye and creates a flow in your design. 

Mix size and hight

One really useful rule is to use decor objects in different sizes and shapes. You want to contrast your objects to create an interesting design. Every object does not have to be unique, it is actually better if a few elements repeat themselves. But it is crucial that you mix them up. In a bookshelf, an easy hack can be to have some books standing up and others laying down. This adds some drama to your styling.

What objects should you decorate with?

There is really no right and wrong when it comes to what you can bring into your decor. In my opinion, the best design is where function meets form. For purely decorative purposes I prefer plants and art.

Here are a couple of suggestions of objects you can use to decorate with:

  • Decorative storage
  • Artwork & Photos
  • Sculptures &Objects
  • Vases
  • Plants
  • Natural elements such as stones and wood.
  • Books

Finally, I just want to add a disclaimer that the more often you practice styling shelves, the better you will get at it. This skill is not reserved for a select few with the “eye” for decorating. Anyone who follows these rules can achieve good results.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Let me know in the comments if you have any great tips I didn’t mention here.

How to style a shelf

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