How to Style Bookshelves Like A Boss

August 24, 2019

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As an introvert and lover of all things decor and home organization, shelf styling is one of my favorite ways to unwind.



I'm constantly rearranging the open shelving throughout our home, which we have in the living room, kitchen, TV room and even our four-year-old's room:



My obsession with shelf styling doesn't end in our home. When visiting friends and family, I suffer the same affliction. You may be telling me about little Billy's sleep regression and I may be nodding empathetically, but on the inside, I'm mentally rearranging that hot mess you call a display on the mantel behind you. If I'm lucky, you'll notice and invite me to rearrange it.




In this week's post, I'll share my best tips for creating a stunning shelfie. But first, what you'll need:



Shelf Styling Essentials


1. Books

2. Plants - especially the viny, trailing kind!

3. Candles/Candle Holders

4. Baskets/Bins

5. Frames

6. Small Lamp

7. Practical Items (ex. watering can, bookends)


1. Planter / 2. Kinfolk Home Book / 3. Lamp/Bookend / 4. Hanging Plant (Faux) 5.Watering Can / 6. Geometric Terrarium Containers 7. Another Art Book / 8. Wooden Bowl / 9. Brass Candlestick Holders 10. Felt Basket / 11. Copper Frame / 12. Wicker Basket


How to Style A Flawless Shelfie



1. Stagger Heights


The eye likes to wander. Using objects of different heights (or stacking them to achieve this) encourages the eye to roam across your shelves. This allows for a more dynamic and visually interesting experience.



Here's an example of staggered heights done right via Amber Interiors:





2. Vary Depths


By positioning objects at varying distances from the front of the shelf, you create depth within the display. Again, this gives the eye space to roam, increasing visual interest.



Lita at Crave Interiors is a shelf styling ninja. She uses the full depth of her shelves, even hanging art on the wall behind the shelf:




3. Groups of Three


Objects grouped in threes (or other odd-numbered multiples) are generally perceived to be more visually appealing than even groupings.


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4. Preserve Negative Space


Resist the urge to completely fill each shelf. Carving out blocks of empty space allows your objets to stand out in a way they wouldn’t if your shelves were over-crowded.




This is particularly important when you have several adjacent shelves. Tamara of My Grandparents' Chair uses negative space like a boss:




5. Mix Textures


Mixing textures adds visual interest to your display. This is an especially useful tool if you tend to stick to neutrals or a monochromatic color palette, like we do.




6. Personalize


Adding family heirlooms or travel souvenirs will give your shelfie meaning. On our living room shelf, the ceramic watering can was picked up while on vacay in Prince Edward County; it was handmade by a local artist. 


Watering can by Rebecca Heasman.




We also display my son's 'art' here from time to time:




In our family room/TV room, the shelves are decked with travel guides from our favorite destinations, a ceramic bowl from a trip to Joshua Tree and carved gourds from Peru.



On the opposite set of shelves sits a vintage abacus that belonged to Eric's grandma.


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7. Be Quirky


Add something that stands out or doesn't quite belong to grab attention.


On our shelf, it's the massive, super-fertile spider plant with dozens of spider babies.


In the shelves below (which I styled at my sister-in-law, Canuck Beauty's house), it’s the mini dino skeleton---a toy model belonging to my nephew. I like that it's quirky and meaningful---he's obsessed with dinosaurs.