Simple Shelf Styling Tips

Maybe you have seen gorgeous, effortlessly styled open shelving and thought about doing it in your own home but struggle to get it looking perfect. Well, let us tell you a secret, shelf styling isn’t effortless. Interior stylists are experienced in shelf styling and a lot of it starts with trial and error as you switch different products around. But in this article we will give you a formula to work towards to help you create beautifully styled shelves.

Colour & Style

To begin with you have to decide on a colour palette, only choose about 2 or 3 different colours. And then you can start collecting items you want to display that go with the colour scheme you’ve chosen. Below we will go through different categories of items typically used on shelves, you will need a couple of choices from each category which should differ in colour, shape and size but still fit in with the overall style of your room.


The most obvious choice for a shelf is books. But that doesn’t mean they need to be lined from one end to the other. Try stacking a few books together on various shelves, with some laying horizontally and some lined up vertically (tip: a candle or sculpture looks good on top of a stack of books).

Don’t organise your stacks by genre or author, always organise by spine cover colour in rainbow order, its much more visually pleasing. (Tip: If your colour palette is neutral try turning the books so the pages face the front.)

Artwork, Framed Photos & Signs

Art generally takes up a lot of room and is a good place to start. You will likely have the most emotional connection with this category and your eyes will naturally gravitate towards pictures of your loved ones or to memories you’ve made. So choose your favourites and make them the focal points to build around.

Vases, Bowls and Pottery

Start collecting pieces of pottery and vases that fit with your colour palette and style. With everything that you use to style a shelf it’s important to think about balance. If you choose weathered pieces that look aged or those with lots of texture or decoration, also use a few simple, solid or glossy items to balance the contrast. (Tip: Including rattan or metal wire baskets are a good way of adding texture and creating more storage opportunities.)

Sculptures, Figurines and Other Decorative Accessories

Sculptures and figurines are great for bringing personality and adding areas of interest to your shelves. Similarly to artwork these items can sometimes be quite big, depending on how many shelves you have you may only need one statement piece from this category. In our opinion its nicer to have a couple of smaller decorative accessories like candles which not only smell pretty but make your shelf look gorgeous day or night. (Tip: decorative accessories like crystals, stones and raw wood are a beautiful way to incorporate textures from nature)

Plants & Flowers

No shelf is complete without a plant or flowers. Depending on how much light you get it may be better to have faux plants or dried flowers.

Time To Style

Now you have gathered all your beautifully chosen pieces its time to style your shelves but keep in mind the following.

  1. Start From the Bottom

Always put the heaviest items, not just physically heaviest but visually heaviest at the bottom. This can include baskets or blankets. (Tip: Rolling up your blankets rather than folding them is also visually appealing)

2. Repetition is Good

You want each shelf to be balanced, but also vary slightly from the other shelves. Having a similar style and colour makes the theme cohesive but the layout is just as important.

3. Balance Small and Large

Remember too many small items can look crowded.

4. Groupings of 3

And thats it, remember to take a step back to have a look at your selves as you go (tip: If it helps take some pictures as you go just incase you preferred how it looked previously)

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