I’ve had lots of questions on my Instagram about how I style my shelving units that I have in my office and dining room. In truth, a lot of it comes down to trial and error, but there are some techniques that I’ve picked up along the way that I’m sharing in today’s post. Of course, my shelves are constantly changing, as is everything in my living space – I never like to keep things one way for too long! Here are some of the steps I take when styling a shelf for display:
1. Decide the look you’re going for.
Organised clutter? Clean and symmetrical? Following a particular colour theme? Once you know the look you’re trying to create, it becomes much easier to find pieces that work around that style. For instance, with my open shelving in the living space, I wanted to have a fresh, bright appearance with brass details, so I went for blush pink, green and gold as the colour palette to keep things within that look. When I was searching for objects to decorate, I stuck to these colours, and I found that I already had quite a few different things that worked because this theme has been my style for a while.
2. Play around with different heights.
I’ve found that varying heights of the things you decide to put on each shelf really helps keep things looking effortless. For instance, I like to pair a tall jewellery stand next to a shorter stack of books with a perfume bottle on the top and maybe a mini candle jar or two. This mixes up the heights and makes the overall appearance of the shelf very interesting to look at – and also a lot easier to photograph if you’re into that. If everything is on one level, it can sometimes look a little boring, and everything appears flatter and one dimensional. It also doesn’t really allow for anything to become a focal piece, as everything is placed at the same height.
3. Add some greenery.
I find that adding a touch of greenery can really lift the look of anything. It adds some life, literally, and makes the whole appearance of a space look fresher and more homely. For this reason, I have lots of greenery around the house, but especially on my open shelving. It’s really easy to style them with pretty plant pots and vases – IKEA and H&M Home have a wonderful selection. If you’re not the best at maintaining plants, I would definitely opt for cacti or faux plants – these can look incredibly cute too if you find the right ones!
4. Let there be light.
I love adding a little light to my shelves, whether I use it or not. This can be through candles that I light in the evenings or pretty lamps that I keep on display. I have this beautiful marble lamp that I found on clearance in HomeSense and I couldn’t believe my luck – it fit perfectly with my theme and it looks gorgeous on top of a couple of pretty books. It has become a real statement piece, but it doesn’t look overdone or appear as too much for the space. It also has brass detailing on the base which means it works really well with my chosen colour palette too.
5. Focus on shapes as well as colours.
Colours aren’t the only thing I look at when I’m styling a shelf for display. I also like to keep in mind the shapes of each decor piece, so that there aren’t too many clashes. For the shelves in my living room, there’s a running theme of spheres, with a rose gold globe, an exposed bulb on a lamp, or a bell jar that with a rounded lid. These shapes work well with the dining room light that hangs just above the space, which is definitely a statement piece with eight spherical lights on brass pipes. Finding and focusing on shapes as well as colours can really help tie the whole look together, and keeps everything appearing seamless when looked at from ahead!
What are your favourite ways to style open shelving?