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!
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.
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. :)
Here’s a few tips (with graphics you can save) on how to style shelves.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take a look to see how different they look…..
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.
Light and bright and airy….and uncluttered.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!