Simple shelf styling.

One of our favorite things to do is style shelves (by the way, try saying the title of this post 5 times in a row)! It’s the icing on the cake for any room. Kelly and I challenge each other by making a little competition out of it – you get one side, I get the other. Ready-set-go! After playing on our “own” side, we switch and collaborate. It’s a process and sometimes we have to walk away for a few minutes, stare at photos, and then go back for our final tweaks. Sounds painful, huh? Not one second for us though. That’s why we get paid the big bucks!

Prior to starting, it’s important to make sure you know what style direction to take. Keep it simple and for gosh sake, fill those empty new photo frames. Maybe the people in the faux pics are a lot better looking than your own crew but still…

Here are (3) themes that we presented to a client to find the look that best fit her fancy as we worked on some open shelving in a room off her kitchen.

Neutral Tones | Styling Shelves
Neutral tones offer a soothing, simple solution {photo cred | Bethany Nauert}
Color Pop | Styling Shelves
A pop of one color adds interest without going overboard
Earthy Tones | Styling Shelves
Earthy tones offer texture and warmth without being too bold or busy {photo cred | Amber Interiors}

The perfect mix for my aesthetic combines a few live plants (or ones that appear to be), some wooden pieces, black and white accents, and then one or two items that have meaning such as a hand-me-down cookbook or a flower vase.

A few other tips…

  • Books displayed with the pages showing give a  uniform look. I always laugh when the husbands walk in and see that – the look on their puzzled faces is priceless! Books help to add height and balance. Use them vertically, horizontally, or both. Get a collection of classics at your local bookstore or go to the library and purchase some used ones. If you’re using them backwards, it doesn’t really matter that you bought a book titled The Zen of Farting (just Googled “funny book titles” to find this gem).
  • You can always find key pieces at HomeGoods, Hobby Lobby, and vintage/resale shops, but also don’t forget to look in the back of your closet, your garage, or even in your kitchen cabinets that you completely forgot you had.  Platters, your wedding china, or old flower pots may work well. You could always pilfer at your parents’ or bestie’s house, too.
  • If styling two or more shelves next to each other, try to repeat an accent throughout. For example, if you have a tall white vase on one side, find a wider, somewhat shorter vase in a same or similar finish for the other to offer continuity and harmony.
  • Consider adding a peel and stick wallpaper or a bold paint color to line the back of built-in shelves for the ultimate style statement.

One final recommendation is that the accents should also accentuate and flow with the room. For instance, this project was near a kitchen so we incorporated a mortar and pestle, cutting boards, and some bowls. Bonus – having these key items right there on display make them readily-available to be used more often. It’s a win-win. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’ve been known to use stuff that is absolutely only intended to look good on a shelf, never to be touched again! It’s all about balance.  – JH

PS- In case curious minds want to know, we’ll feature the final look of this project in a future “before and after” post!

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