Most people consider shelves a convenient and mostly practical interior element, ready to be stacked with all kinds of odds and ends. The problem is, shelves naturally do not serve the ‘out-of-the-way’ purpose. They are open, visible to everyone’s eyes and therefore wrongly used by most of us.
A beautifully curated shelf is a game changer to any room. Instead of randomly stuffing it with unconsidered objects, it is time to train your eye and acknowledge the art of shelf styling. And the good news is, it’s not hard at all, and all you need is a bit of time.
There are a few different ways to approach this exercise.
First, you should decide where you want your shelves to hang. The most obvious option for most of us is the hallway or the living room. They are great spots, however, why not give it a try in your bathroom or bedroom?
I will leave this choice up to you.
Next, walk around your house and select all the things that are dear to you. From your favourite book to shells, button jars, shoes, vases or rugs. Anything goes. Of course, you might prefer styling your shelf differently depending on the room they are in. But let’s start with a less practical approach and concentrate on aesthetics first. You can always add a few more practical objects you might need in, let’s say a bedroom or bathroom, later on.
Once you have collected a good amount of favourite knicks and knacks, I suggest dividing them into colour groups. This step is crucial as it will be easier to kick start your styling mission.
And now the fun part begins. Take a look at which colour groups work in harmony together. Often natural tones such as terracotta, salmon, mustard or off white, look beautiful together. On the other hand, all shades of white make an equally stunning combination. Once your colour scheme is decided, make sure you have enough bits and pieces of all heights to display. If you end up with only small and shallow objects, your shelves will look empty and out of balance. What matters is less about how many objects you have, but more about a good assortment of heights and potentially texture.
For a more minimal look, choose your absolute favourites and arrange them neatly. Some closer together, or in a group, others placed on their own.
Add and layer color-matched art or pictures as a background, to create a more casual feel. Turn books around, showcasing only the off-white pages instead of the colourful spine of the book. Add fashion accessories, candles, plants or dried flowers – the choices are endless. The more personal your selection, the better. Treat this space like your very own art gallery and you can’t go wrong. If you are a bit unsure, step back, take a good look, come back to it later and rearrange. Sometimes a bit of distance or a second opinion can be very helpful.
Below, we have selected a few images we thought look great and can serve you as a starting point to dial up your shelf styling project!
As discussed above, pull out anything you consider special or simply beautiful and display it for everyone to see. This can be many different things, but also one particular item, in different forms of shapes such as the shell selection in the picture below. How stunning does the diversity in colour and texture, shape and size look? A great idea if you are after a very luxurious and monochrome feel.
The Kids Room
The biggest challenge with opening shelving is the kids’ room. Many colourful toys of different shapes, odd boxes of lego and hand-crafted objects, can be overwhelming. But do not stress, even in a cluttered environment such as a busy kids space, you simply need to find a way to group items (by colour, texture, context, etc.), display special pieces and store all the penny-ant stuff in visually pleasing boxes or baskets. And Voila, in no time, even the most eclectic playroom, will look well-balanced, whilst keeping the fun purpose and whimsical feel.
In the Bathroom
I love the idea of filling a bathroom space with a variety of plants! Shelves are the perfect place to start your indoor-jungle and add a bit of tropical feel to your bathroom walls. Invest in all kinds of indoor greenery. The more diverse the better. Another cute idea is to use your shelves in a more practical way, keeping towels and soap handy. If this is more you, try adding a few interesting objects such as shells, mirrors, baskets or vases. This creates a nice contrast to the otherwise rather sterile bath accessories.