Shelves are so versatile in that you can use them as a display platform for your most unique items, use them for practicality as a bookshelf or to display family pictures. Whatever the purpose you are looking to use your shelves for, here are some tips on how to style them to where they draw attention, but they don't feel too overstated.
How to Even Begin Styling Your Shelves
What I would recommend is taking all the items you are wanting to use on your shelves, and separating them into categories. Separate them by color of objects, material, height, whatever works for you. Start placing some of your items on the shelves, starting with some of your taller pieces, since they typically go towards the back, and just start placing them. You begin to get a feeling of where you like placement of certain items and where you don't. This process is not meant to be stressful or frustrating and there is no wrong way to style a shelf. It is whatever works for you!
1. Add Different Textures & Materials
Provide visual interest by intermingling woods, velvets, paper, ceramic, greenery and any other random material together to create contrast. It helps to not place items of the same material or texture on the same shelf. Create diagonals with your materials (i.e. a wood element being on the bottom left of one of the shelves and another element being on the top right side of the shelf). These diagonals help the shelves to feel balanced and interesting while not feeling overwhelming or cluttered.
2. Types of Objects to Place on the Shelves
This is where you let your personality shine! It will all depend on what room the shelf is in (you wouldn't necessarily want a cutting board on a bedroom shelf, but who am I to judge).
Add elements that you love and want to see everyday when you walk by these shelves. They could be items your kids have made at school or things you've picked up while traveling, or they can even be vases from Goodwill that have no sentimental value at all (guilty). Whatever the case may be, use these items to accentuate the color palette of the room. If you have an accent color in your room, I highly recommend bringing out this color in your shelf accessories. It's a great yet subtle way to keep the room feeling cohesive.
3. Create Diagonals
If you have multiple shelves above each other, create diagonals with your objects. For instance, place white items diagonally from each other, or books like the picture to the left. This method creates balance and ties all of the shelves together. Items that have the same height are also recommended to be set diagonally from each other for proportionality.
If you only have one shelf that you are styling, I would recommend placing your tallest item at one of the ends. This method helps create a bookend effect that defines the ends of your shelf.
4. Try Not to Lump Too Many Items on the Same Shelf
You want to give the items on each shelf room to breathe. Placing items too close together can create a feeling of clutter. By spacing items apart, your shelves now have zones where your eye can distinctly separate each piece.
5. If You Need to Add Height...
A couple of options to create height on your shelves are
Books are the first things that come to mind that are easily able to be stacked to add height to your shelves
Tall photos and pictures
These are just a couple of options for how to style your shelves if you are feeling stuck. Consider them guidelines, but they are by no means the end all be all. Tag me in any of your shelf styling posts on Instagram or e-mail me for other tips that you have. Happy styling!