How To Style Shelves (simple decorating tips & ideas)

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Decorating shelves doesn’t have to be intimidating, just follow these simple tips on how to style shelves and you’ll have eye pleasing decor before you know it!

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

Okay, let me start out by saying that I am in no way an expert on this. :) At all.
This is just what I’ve learned over the last few years and what I incorporated that I feel appeals to the eye.

What appeals to you may be totally different. I am just hoping these simple tips on how to style shelves will be helpful to you.
I know I’ve struggled with this many times.

But if you follow a few simple principles, it’s not so hard.

Before we begin, let me also say that now that this is the “dining room”, I didn’t want the bookcase to feel heavy, or “study-ish”. I wanted it to be light and airy with decor, photos and only a few books.

And also….can you guys even believe it’s November????? I can’t!
I’ve got to get this house finished so I can decorate for the holidays. Oh my!
Everything always takes longer than you think. Everything so far in this house anyway. ;)

Okay, so let’s get on with it! :)

How To Style Shelves

  • First, you want to start with a blank slate. Empty every single shelf before beginning.
  • Put “like” things together in groupings so they’ll be easy to pull from as you start styling the shelves.
  • Try to keep things somewhat cohesive without being matchy-matchy.

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

I have extra large shelves so it was a big more of a challenge. And why I think I over packed them last time.

I know designers and a lot of times, bloggers, don’t use much personal photos in decor like this.
But I want to see photos of my family so I included them. :)

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

Here’s a few tips (with graphics you can save) on how to style shelves.

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

  • A triangle pattern is pleasing to the eye. It’s feels less chaotic and more organized.
  • When putting small pieces together, keep them in odd numbers, such as 3.
  • Some items that are larger can stand alone
  • Symmetry in groupings/shelves.

You’ll notice the triangles above show “like” items.
The first triangle show gold decor that make up the triangle.
The second are the aqua colored vases with similar groupings.
And the last one is long trays.

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

On the top triangle, I have 3 white nautical pieces that are similar. I also have a similar grouping there.
The second triangle is white framed photos.
And the last shows how I used some symmetry, too.

  • 2 similar groupings on each side (mirrored)
  • 2 and 2
  • 3 and 3, etc.
  • large item, photo, vase with books and decor, and so on.

That last one may or may not be a design “rule” (it might even be breaking a “design rule”! ;) ) but I liked the way it looked to my eye.
It seemed less cluttered, less chaotic and more uniform. Which to me meant more pleasing to the eye.
And easier to actually see what’s there and enjoy it.

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

I was going for a much less cluttered feel than what I had in here previously.

You can see how these shelves looked before, here.

If you follow along on Instagram, you probably saw my story as I was painting the stained wood top there in the middle.
I had planned to make it look weathered with paint….but, no.
That didn’t work out so well because it’s such a large expanse and I was just not feeling it.
So after a coat or two of that process, I decided to go all white instead.

And I’m so glad I did!

I love that it’s so bright and light. The baskets do a great job of breaking up the white and adding some texture.

Which, by the way, also got a makeover. :)

You might remember these baskets from Target were really dark to begin with.
As with the walnut top on my Aubusson dresser, that just would not do with the new room decor.

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

So I gave them one coat of a quick dry brush. (as you can see on the bottom half above)

I used Country Grey Chalk Paint because it was the perfect color! I don’t use it often on furniture but it was “just right” for this.
It gave them that bleached basket look that I was after.

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

I dry brushed the insides and the outside.

Want to know how to dry brush?? Check out this post and video showing how I do it.

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

Take a look to see how different they look…..

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

Remember that old dark top? I disliked it from the get-go and wanted to change it then.
It came out much darker than I wanted originally.

And now….

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

Light and bright and airy….and uncluttered.

Before….

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

After…

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

You’ll understand soon why I needed to change the color of these. :) (when you see the rest of the reveal of this room)

Want the build details of this built in bookcase?? Get the full tutorial, here.

Before…

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

After…

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

Some of the items are thrifted, some are old and were on the bookcase previously and some are new.

(click the photo of any item below that you want to see more about)

I don’t have links for most things because they are things I’ve picked up along the way at thrift stores, TJ Maxx, etc.

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

I painted all of these books white on the outside some time back.

I think it really makes the other decor items stand out without distracting from them.
(just remove the sleeve, save it if you like, and paint the hard cover…no harm done)

You will notice that I did not paint the cover of my antique books. (they are the ones under the gold orb on the left)
One is from the 1770’s and the other, mid 1800’s. Treasures.

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

I’m still planning to put some kind of hardward/handles on the bottom doors but haven’t decided on exactly what yet.
Still looking. :)
Although, I do like the nice clean look of the doors, I’m tired of not having a handle to pull. The edges of those cabinets do get worn and dingy looking.
(I know, I just repainted them all ;) lol)

I’ve also considered adding some grass cloth wallpaper on the backs of the shelves. But that’s just too many changes at once.
I need to live with this awhile to see how I feel about everything. So stay tuned, that may be a future project here….or not…we’ll see. ;)

I hope this post on how to style shelves is helpful to you!
It may not be perfect, or the best way, but it worked for me. :) Hopefully some of the tips I shared above will work for you, too.

Be sure to pin it to save it for later!

How To Style Shelves (SIMPLE decorating tips anyone can follow!!!!) artsychicksrule.com #stylingshelves #howtodecorateshelves #decoratingshelves #shelfstyle #shelfdecor #bookcasedecor

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

xo

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10 Comments

    1. Yes, I do have some books in mine and used to have more. But since this is the dining room now instead of the study, I wanted to give it a light, fresh look. :)

  1. Great ideas! I like the interesting mix of items you used, it looks great! I think the grass cloth would look awesome, I’m all about lining the backs of shelves. But I also understanding wanting to live with something for awhile as well?. I enjoy your projects!

    1. Thanks Vicki! :) Yes, I’m really considering that grass cloth! But for me anyway, it’s always best I live with something for a little while first! I tend to change my mind often. ;) I hope you had a wonderful weekend!! xoxo

  2. Beautiful shelving! I love the changes… and thank you for the tutorial on how to decorate. I’m sure mine are all wrong! :D

    1. Thanks Karen!! And I’m sure you didn’t! There is no “wrong” way, in my opinion. Whatever appeals to your eye is “right”. These are just a few tips that might make it easier to put things together as you are doing it! Hope you are doing well!! xoxo

  3. Thank you for sharing how you stylize shelves. I have struggled so much in the past and usually end up having them too cluttered. I also love how you brightened up the baskets – great idea and makes them look unique. I always look forward to your next project!

    1. You are so welcome Kimberly! I hope these tips are helpful to you! Over cluttering mine was always an issue too! I may have them a little sparse this go round but I think it’s from having them over cluttered for years, previously. (and looking at them for 5 months really over full as I used the the shelves to store things from the kitchen, etc, when we were redoing that) I was a little leery of painting the baskets, to be completely honest, but I’m glad I went for it! They were so beautiful to me, as is, but just didn’t go with the new decor in there. I can’t wait to share that, as it will all make sense then! ;) Hope you had a wonderful weekend!! xoxo

  4. WOW!! That’s a big change….. Inspired by your shelving build…..my hubby built shelving from scratch across a 20 ft wall in our San Diego area house, and they’re filled with lots-o-nautical decor (duh,IKR) then not to be left out….he did the same thing AGAIN in our Arkansas home (he’s a pretty amazing guy!)…..where I filled them up with Shabby Chic decor…..and it all looks AMAZING!! Now, mine are pretty full…..but, I LOVE it that way…..I love so many things that it’d be impossible to do what you did, You are sooo BRAVE!!! ….so, since I’m 64, and feeling sassy….I’m leaving my shelves filled up with books and gee-gaws…..and leave the big step to simplify shelves to you Young-Uns…..they look too bare for my taste ? …and, please, believe me, I mean NO offense, but, like you’d see in a store where things are just basic display……but then…..a neighbor made a comment that I overdid my decor….OH WELL!!! The great news is…..as you said…there is no right or wrong way……LOVE YOU! LOVE YOUR Blog!! Congratulations on 6 years of Inspirations!!

    1. Oh yes, it really is a big change Linda! :) And your husband sounds very handy, love it, he’s a keeper! Yes, I have to tell you, I struggled not to put “all the things” back up on the shelves. I just have so many things I love and kept trying to put it all up there but I was trying really hard to keep it a little less cluttered this time. I especially had a time with family photos. I love displaying my loved ones photos.
      I think you should keep yours just as you have them, full or not. Do you know why?? Because I can tell they make you SO happy to be styled that way….and that makes it RIGHT! :) If it makes you feel good then that is what it’s all about. Your surroundings should reflect YOU and make YOU feel happy to be around. That’s why I’ve never understood why so many get so bothered by what others do with their furniture or decor?
      And absolutely no offense taken, I can totally see that. lol I’m okay with them looking bare in that way because believe me, my house has been nothing like a bare store for years!! haha I’m so ready for a little less “stuff” and space and more store-like decor for a change (been purging over here). ;) Thank you for the sweet words too Linda…you are so appreciated!! Blessings to you!! xoxo

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