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How To Style Your Shelf Like A Pro.

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

Shelfie styling is gaining popularity and it’s a excellent way to add character and style to your home. As an interior stylist, believe it or not, its one of my favourite jobs to to do. I love working with a chaotic, disorganised bookshelf and finishing up with a stylish, orderly, unified and interesting look.


Want to raise the bar on your shelfie game from standard to spectacular? Here are some of style tips and tricks to ensure your shelves are styled to perfection.


Start from Scratch


Take everything off your shelves. Yes, take it all off and start from scratch. Sort through your pieces, begin with favourites, items that you know you want to include then build around those pieces. Once you start re arranging your items on your shelves based on the following tips, your shelves will be ready to tell your story.


how to style a shelf

Choose a Colour Palette


When it comes to selecting decorative items to style your shelves, it's best to keep them predominantly neutral and combine a colour or two that compliments the palette of your room. This will not only help create an arrangement that visually sits well together but will work with the theme of your room and create a cohesive design.


how to style a shelf
how to style a shelf

Have a Hero Piece


Choose a hero piece, the one you want to be the feature of your shelf, then begin your styling around it. Select decorative objects that have a similar story, it could be a colour or textures that work well with each other. This helps create an arrangement that works together and flatter’s your hero piece.


how to style a shelf
how to style a shelf

Layout & Placement


Styling your decorative items throughout your shelves takes a lot of experimenting. You want the whole layout to look balanced and for each shelf to differ from the rest, this will balance out the overall look. You want your shelves to feel designer, not disorderly. Also, do not be scared to show empty spaces.


how to style a shelf

Varying Heights


When arranging your items make sure your selection includes pieces that vary in height, whether it’s a tall vase, a medium-sized framed print and one smaller decorative piece grouped together, this will ensure a larger visual impact .  If you fill your shelves with loads of little objects, it can easily appear as clutter. By blending larger and smaller pieces you create a more interesting and unified look.


how to style a shelf

Mix it Up


A mixture of different objects makes an interesting display, but it’s important to get the balance right.  Take your shelfie styling to the next level by mixing and matching your decorative items; sculptural vases, figurines, bowls, bottles, candles, boxes, books, baskets, as well as blending textures such as wood, glass, ceramics and shiny metals – this will ensure your shelfie is eye-catching.


how to style a shelf
how to style a shelf

Decorate in Odd Numbers


I know it sounds super weird but it’s actually a known fact that people prefer odd numbers over evens (I know I do). So creating arrangements of 1, 3, or 5 items always looks best. If your arrangement just doesn’t look right, think about changing the height or scale of some of the pieces.


how to style a shelf

Add Artwork


Layer in artwork or framed prints. Hang them on the wall behind the shelf, lean them against the wall or use a thicker frame that sits up on its own. Place artwork toward the back of the shelf and place smaller ornamental items in front, this gives depth and creates pattern. The best thing about using framed art, pics or prints are they can easily be changed as your mood or the season changes.


how to style a shelf
how to style a shelf

Add Greenery


Nothing adds more life to your shelf than an indoor plant. Look for plants with a visual appeal like a beautiful fern or a bristly succulent. Place them in a gorgeous brass pot or a wicker basket, this is such a great way to add additional texture and dimension to your shelf styling. Mix the real plants with faux plants. When you mix them all up everyone will just assume they are all real.


how to style a shelf

Don’t forget the Books


The most obvious item to include on your bookshelf would clearly be books. Books instantly add a homely vibe to your shelf. Vary the placement, left, right and centre and don’t forget to stack them too. By mixing up the positioning of your books and stacks, you’ll keep it interesting and balance the weight of your shelf styling.


how to style a shelf

Last but not Least


EDIT when you think you have finished, take a step back and see how your shelves have come together, if it all feels a bit cluttered simply move things around or even take a few items away, then stand back again to see how it looks. Remember less is more, you don’t want your shelves crammed with pieces, a more organised layout without looking too orderly works best.


Need some help styling your shelves? I can come to your home (melbourne metro) and help you take your shelves from meh to magnificent. Drop me an email at hello@styledandstaged.com.

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