Styling a shelf is a ton easier than you think. Today I’m sharing with you the detailed secrets to styling a shelf like a designer. Follow along and see for yourself just how easy this project actually is.
My client hired me to come in and help style her shelf. As you can see, she already had several unique and interesting pieces. Why, then, did this shelf space not feel right? Well, the answer is in the order she placed these great pieces. I took a quick trip over to my local Home Goods and grabbed a few accessories to hep balance out her already wonderful collectables. Here’s how her shelf ended up once I restyled it:
Please excuse the price tags on some of these pieces. When I style a shelf for my clients I leave the price tags. This allows for me to return items if a client doesn’t like a specific piece. Lucky for me, I’ve never really had to return much of anything. 😉
So, you might be wondering how I got this shelf to looking and feeling good, right? Let’s take a detailed walk through the process of styling. To make things as clear as possible I’ve drawn on each photo below to show you exactly what I am looking for and why I do what I do to get a cohesive look.
Hide the visual distractions. This specific book shelf had a long vertical support bar running through the center. It created a divisional line that was visually bothersome. I decide to hide the vertical bar as much as possible by creating a pinnacle of tall objects through the center. This served two purposes: 1) the tall objects hid the bar 2) the height of the objects created a visual peak for your eye to immediately center in on. Creating a pinnacle dead-center isn’t always necessary, but in this case it helped with balance.
Vary your height! This is really important, and in my experience, the most often overlooked secret. As you can see, each of my pieces are strategically placed to create this mountain-like play in height. The key here is to make sure that one piece connects to the other without their being too much of a difference in height. In other words, the “mountain peaks” I have created are easily connecting to one another. There is no dramatic dip or drop from one piece to the next. You want to make sure you don’t place an overly large or tall piece next to a tiny piece.
Control your direction! Each of these pieces has been placed in a very specific way to balance the direction of each shelf. For example, on shelf #1 the picture frames not only vary in height, but they vary in direction. Some frames are placed in landscape and some are in portrait. On shelf #2 the stack of books visually draw a horizontal line across the shelf while the slim vases and tall hourglass draw a vertical line. On shelf #3 the tall wooden figurine draws a visual vertical line and the seagrass basket draws a visual horizontal line.
Pop in a bit of brilliance! I love to add something shiny when I can. BUT, you have to be careful that you don’t overdo it! The best way to pop in brilliance and prevent yourself from making the mistake of going overboard is to follow the “golden triangle rule”. This method was originally created as a concept for kitchen drawings and appliance placement, but it can be used beyond the kitchen. It’s easy to follow. Simply place your objects in a way that the pieces form an imaginary triangle.
Add organic elements! This is probably the second most common mistake (next to secret #2) made when styling shelves. Organic material is super important. It helps bring life to any space, making it feel natural and real. I broke down two different photos to show you both ways I managed to infuse organic material into the shelf. The photo above shows how #1 and 2 are constructed of wooden pieces. #3 is a natural seagrass woven basket and it really gives the biggest bang for its buck. Often times I use a few baskets when styling larger spaces, but in this case the bookcase was small. NOTE: Baskets are a great place to store remote controls. Place one on your lowest shelf for easy access.
Adding green life to your shelving is really pretty much a must. Usually I use the golden triangle rule for this, but this shelf is small and because I had so many other organic elements to play with (see above photo) these two green-life pieces felt right.
I hope that these secret steps have given you the courage to style your shelves on your own. If you have any questions ask them in the comment box below and I’ll make sure to answer them.