Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves

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6 tips for perfectly styled shelves to create shelves that are balanced, cohesive, and visually appealing to the eye.

Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves

One of my favorite hobbies/activities is shelf styling. If there was a job that I could apply for that was solely shelf styling, I would apply to it and would want to go to work everyday. I am not sure why it gives me such a thrill to styles shelves!

It could be that I enjoy the thought process that goes into shelf styling. I can think about and obsess over an area that I want to style for days, which helps to keep my mind busy and distracts me from other, anxious thoughts that like to creep into my mind. It could be that changing the décor on a shelf or a cabinet can instantly change the look and feel of a room without moving any furniture. Or it could be that I just have fun moving this item here and that item there until the perfect balance is achieved. No matter the reason, I love it!

However, I know that not everyone feels the same way. In this blog post, I am sharing a glass cabinet that I recently styled along with a few pointers for you to follow if shelf styling is intimidating for you. You will notice a common denominator in most of my tips. Visual interest. The key to perfectly styled shelves is eye movement. You want the eye to move up & down, focus in on textures, and to move between groupings & layers.

My hope is that you are able take these tips for perfectly styled shelves, put them to use in your home, and to take away the intimidation that you may feel so that you can have beautifully styled shelves in your home too!

Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves

Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves: Add Texture

Texture adds warmth and coziness.

Glass, baskets, books, plants, blankets, pillows, candles, and wood are all examples of different types of textures that will add visual interest to your shelves. Mix your textures on each shelf.

One of my favorite and one of the easiest ways to add texture to a shelf is by adding books. Books are usually something we all have in our homes, right?! I like to style books in groups. Books can be grouped together going vertically across a shelf, like I have done in the top shelf of this cabinet. Or, books can be grouped together laying down, with something placed on top, like I have down on the bottom shelf of this cabinet.

My secret to book styling, is to alternate the books with some of the books showing their spine, and others with the pages facing out. This is a simple and easy way to add texture to any shelf.

Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves: Group Objects Together

Objects grouped together are visually appealing. Specifically, groups of odd numbered items. (This is actually a scientific fact!)

I always like to group items in either groups of 3 or groups of 5. Odd numbers force our eyes to move around the grouping, and thus gives visual interest. Take the top of this cabinet as an example. I grouped a glass vase, a basket, and a candle together. A group of three items. Each item with it’s own texture and all of varying heights.

Notice how your eye moves around between the three items? That is exactly what you want the eye to do when looking at your shelf!

Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves

Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves: Add Height

Each shelf should contain items of varying heights.

This will draw the eye up and down. If you have too many small objects on a shelf it can make the shelf look cluttered. Too many large objects and the shelf becomes overwhelming. To make your shelf appealing, layer a couple of smaller objects with larger ones.

You will notice each shelf I styled has items of varying heights. If something is too small, you can always add height by placing a couple of books beneath it, or by placing on a stand, or inside of a cloche. The glass vase on the very bottom shelf on the left side was a little too short. I placed a stack of books beneath it, and presto! It gave the vase the height it needed.

Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves: Layers

Layers add depth and dimension to your shelves.

Your shelves will become three dimensional instead of one dimensional when you layer pieces together on a shelf. Place a small picture or piece of art in front of a larger piece of artwork as I did on the middle shelf. Or similarly, place a larger vase behind a smaller one. I layered artwork together towards the back of the middle shelf placing the larger artwork behind the smaller one. Placed a cloche (with a small object inside) in front of the art, and then placed a smaller object in front of the cloche.

Layering all of these pieces and these small touches create a much bigger impact on your shelves and will make them pop!

Shelf Styling

Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves: Balance

Even though each shelf is styled individually, you want to think about the bigger picture when styling each shelf so that your cabinet or bookshelves are balanced and cohesive when you are finished. This means alternating groupings, alternating your layers, and mixing textures. On the top left side of the cabinet, there is a basket with a green plant inside. You will notice I have the same basket with the same plant inside on the bottom right side. This is an example of balance. Top and bottom, left and right. Play around with the items on your shelf paying attention to the other shelves to ensure your eye bounces between each one of the shelves. If that happens, you are on the right track to achieving balance for entire cabinet or bookshelves!

Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves: Gather Ideas

Do not be afraid to gather ideas and inspiration from other people, stores you may visit, magazines, social media, or from designers whose style you love.

I always find inspiration from Pinterest, other home décor bloggers, and many other places. When I see something I like; I pin it, or I take a screen shot to refer back to later. Doing this helps me to think of ideas that I might not normally have or gives me permission to continue on with an idea that I know might work based on something similar I’ve seen.

It’s ok to take someone else’s idea, add your own twist to it, and make it your own.

Spring Shelf Styling

I hope you are able to take these tips and use them in your own home! Shelf styling can be scary and overwhelming but when you have the right tools, a little bit of time, and some creativity your shelves will be beautiful and the envy of the town (yes, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you know what I mean!). Remember to always decorate your home and your shelves with pieces you love. Doing this will make your house a cozy place that you will want to come home to. Do you love styling shelves as much as I do? What are some of your favorite pieces to decorate a shelf with? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you!

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Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves

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  1. Hi Lindsey! That cabinet is from Target! We have had it for years and have loved it. The link to the cabinet is in the shop our home tab!

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