Ever since we completed the renovation on the 1987 Fixer Upper, I have been amazed at how little space I have to actually decorate. Our house in California, which is 1/3 of the size of this house, has many more spots to accessorize. I decided it’s time to start adding some shelves and built-ins to get this place looking decorated! The living room has a big empty wall space next to the piano that has been begging for a bookcase. I fell in love with this one and fortunately, it was the perfect size for the space. Sometimes shelf styling can be a little intimidating. You see all the perfect looking shelfies over on Instagram and they can look effortlessly cool. Well, let me be the one to debunk that myth. Those effortlessly cool looking shelves, probably had more design time spent on them than most places in the house. Decorating shelves is a process and so I thought for those of you that have been wondering how to decorate shelves, I would walk you through what I do and hopefully my shelf decorating tips will make the task of decorating your own shelves a little less daunting. Affiliate links are included in this post.
Bookshelves are a great way to add personality into any room, and they are often a big focal point of a space. Placing things at random can create a visually confusing and cluttered mess. Here are a few tips for how to decorate shelves that will highlight your favorite things while at the same time create a balanced and beautiful display.
HOW TO DECORATE SHELVES
1. DECIDE ON A COLOR SCHEME
While you can mix in a large variety of textures and color into your shelves, I like to start with a few colors in mind that are going to kind of be the main color scheme to my design. When I decided to decorate these shelves in the living room, I went with lots of blues and greens so that they tie in with the rest of the room. Think about the room that your shelves are in and what the rest of the decor looks like. Try to tie your shelf decor into that decor too for a cohesive look.
2. GATHER ALL THE THINGS YOU MIGHT LIKE TO DISPLAY ON YOUR SHELVES
What makes good shelf decor?
-plants (mostly faux in our house)
-sculptural objects, pottery (like vases)
-boxes (bone boxes are awesome to stack)
-found objects and souvenirs
You are going to need more items than you think. Gather a pile of everything you think you might want to display so you have a lot to choose from.
3. START BUILDING YOUR SHELVES WITH THE LARGE ITEMS FIRST
Baskets, books and larger pictures/art are good places to start. Stack big books, laying them horizontally, add large vases etc. These items are going to grab everyones attention first because they take up the most visual weight on your shelves. Because of this, you also need to make sure to space these items out evenly throughout the shelves. I had several large and heavy vases that I wanted to include on these shelves. It would not have made sense for these big, heavy items to be on anything other than a bottom shelf because they would look out of place.
4. LAYER IN SMALLER PIECES ON TOP OF YOUR LARGER DECOR ITEMS
Add in smaller frames and artwork, lean some smaller books, place objects on tops of stacks of books, try to mix colors and textures here. Start to fill in open spaces.
5. CREATE VISUAL INTEREST WITH GROUPS OF LIKE OBJECTS
For example, I have these little bowls that I like to collect from places I visit around the world. They are little, so arranging three of them together in a group gives them more impact on these large shelves and creates some interest. Remember, groups of threes are more visually pleasing than even numbers, so try to combine like objects in a group of three. Sometimes that means being selective with what you choose to display, but sometimes less is more.
6. FINE TUNE YOUR SHELVES FOR BALANCE, HEIGHT, WEIGHT AND TEXTURE
Step back often while you decorate your shelves and take a look at item placement. Are all the tall objects on one side of the shelves? Are the heavy feeling pieces all grouped together on a top shelf? Do have lots of gold pieces grouped together and several natural items elsewhere? Make sure that you have evenly distributed the pieces with cool texture and height, visual weight and impact throughout the shelves until everything feels balanced.
7. LAYER IN GREENERY
A few plants can do wonders for your styled shelves. They add color, texture, height, and interest all on their own…all while making the shelves come to life. Vary the types of greenery, the styles of pots and the size of the plants to mix in with your decor objects.
MY FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP FOR ITEMS TO DECORATE SHELVES
–McGee and Co : lots of great unique pieces
–Target : Great for frames and
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