Built in book shelves with decorative pieces

How To Style Shelves Like A Pro

If you’ve ever tried to style shelves, you know the entire activity can be quite daunting. Quite frankly, the tedious process used to completely overwhelm me. I either compiled too many tiny pieces or too few big ones leaving the shelves looking a bit out of place. I often found myself rearranging the shelves for hours at a time before returning to the store for different pieces.


Simple Tips To Style Shelves

Fortunately, after much research, trial and error, and (don’t laugh) Tik Tok, I finally learned a few fail-proof shelf styling tips. Before I share these with you, please keep in mind that this isn’t a paint by numbers guideline. I’m here to give you the tools to create your unique work of art! Now, let’s get into my 6 tips for styling shelves straight out of a farmhouse magazine!

Create A Story With Color

Leather chair and grey poof in front of a tall, industrial open shelf

Every space has a story to tell and your shelves should be the storyline of your book. The decorative items displayed on them should have a set color palette to help create a cohesive design. Look around your space and find two to three main colors to include in your decorations. If you need help selecting your color palette, check out my blog with trending farmhouse color schemes.

Your decorations should either be a solid color or some combination of your selected color palette. Spread these colors out throughout the shelves. Think of your shelf like a grid – you don’t want all of one color in any row or column. Instead, do your best to mix in various colors in each section of your grid for more intrigue.

Keep It Balanced

Industrial, open shelf with decorative pieces equally distributed

Balance is as important in design as it is in your life. Each shelf needs to have the items equally balanced across them. Notice how the second shelf has the items distributed across the entire shelf, thus creating balance. Now, take a look at the top shelf. Do you see how it appears slightly unbalanced as the decoration sits solely in the center?

That doesn’t mean each shelf needs to have items from side to side. If the black pot was just one long piece like a dough bowl, it would appear more balanced. Play around with your items to create a grid-like display with pieces filling each of the 9 spaces from your imaginary sections.

Height Matters

Black shelf with different sized pots, plants, and boxes

When choosing a man, height shouldn’t matter. When choosing your shelf decorations, it absolutely should. If all of your decorative items rest at exactly the same height, your shelf is going to look mighty boring. Find pieces with varying heights and stagger them across your shelves.

Candlesticks, books, and trays are great options to add in some variation if all of your objects sit at the same height. If you have objects you can stack, like boxes, snag a couple of different sizes and put them on top of each other. Not every decoration needs to be different, but I promise that the more you vary the height the more visually pleasing your shelves will be.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

abstract black shelving with white, grey and black decorations

Repetition is key when decorating shelves. Although it’s okay to use the same items over again in your space, it’s not required. When I say repetition, I simply mean to repeat the same colors and textures throughout your shelving decor.

If you have metal, metal should be strewn in with several accent pieces. If you have a black pot on one shelf, add a black sculpture or tray on another. Don’t get too carried away thinking everything has to match. Every single element doesn’t need repetition, but a few key elements should definitely be repeated in the space.

Layering Is A Must

Two framed mirrors layered in front of one another framed by two wooden decorations

You know how a little black dress is cute, but it’s even cuter when you layer on a couple of necklaces and a cute jacket. The same concept applies to your shelves. Layering your decorative items helps create depth and dimension to elevate your shelves to that next level.

You can layer by placing items staggered in front of each other or on top of one another. All decorations can be layered, but pieces like mirrors, paintings, cutting boards, and picture frames work perfectly for creating depth. I love taking a piece of art and placing it behind a vase or plant.

More Is Better

Table display with decorative items like greenery, candles, vases, and pots.

The last, and probably most important thing to remember when styling your shelves is to start with more than you need. You’re going to need to shop for more than you plan to use. As with life, things don’t always go as planned when decorating. Having a bunch of options to choose from when styling helps ease the stress of decorating.

Did these styling tips help? Let me know if you’d like more tips on how to style shelves in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “How To Style Shelves Like A Pro”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top