How To Style Shelves – 5 Tips & Tricks

Open shelves can be tough to style but should be given extra decorative care. They are typically a focal point of any room and should provide visual interest while not looking too cluttered. Styled correctly, they can make the room feel larger and add a lot of personality.

Here are 5 helpful tips and tricks on how to style shelves no matter the interior design style of your space.



#1: Start with books

Unless your shelves are in the kitchen, the best place to start with styling shelves is with books. You can use books you already own or buy some vintage books at a thrift store or used book store that match well with your color scheme and look unique. If you do not want to purchase new books and the covers of your existing books do not compliment your neutral color scheme, simply turn the books backwards (see image above).



#2: Add artwork and leaning photographs

Just like everything else on an open shelf, you do not want to go overboard with artwork and photographs or it starts to look like a gallery. For smaller shelves, it’s best to start with two and slowly add more if you still have a lot of empty space. Try to add frames that are different sizes for the best result.



#3: Create visual interest with height, size and shape variation

As you start putting things next to each other, make sure they are a different height, size and shape. Once you step back, you’ll notice this creates a lot of visual interest and forces your eyes to look at every detail. These three variations will make it much easier to style shelves.



#4: Play with depth

Create layers by tilting photographs behind a small plant, or place large objects behind much smaller decorations. These layers create depth, catch the eye, and make the space feel bigger.

If you need small shelf decor to create a layered look, check out Target, Hobby Lobby, or your local thrift store.



#5: Tinker until you’re happy

The best way to get a finished product that you’re happy with is to play with every decoration you have until you’re happy. Once you start putting things on shelves, it’s best to move things around so you can see every possibility and choose your favorite. Add a few items, step back, make adjustments, step back, add or remove an item, step back, and continue this process until your open shelves are perfect.



Bonus tip: if you’re a plant lover, add some greenery

Not everyone loves indoor plants, but if you are styling open shelves and have a green thumb, have some fun with a variety of plants. Add a small succulent on top of a stack of books, or place a long vine on a higher shelf to add dimension.


If you need some extra design inspiration on how to style shelves, turn to Pinterest.


Does your Denver home or business need a makeover? Contact Bollinger Design Group today and we will make your interior design dreams a reality.