How to Style a Shelf for a Stunning & Uncluttered Look


Shelf styling is an incredible yet easy way to add a personalised and stylish touch to your home. However, styling it so it forms a stunning focal point, instead of a distraction, is vital for a successful setup. If you’ve got long, open and floating varieties, styling them can be quite a conundrum and overwhelming. With a few simple tips and tricks of what items to choose and how to use them, you can upgrade your shelfie game from average to amazing!   In this blog, we’ve put together the rules and principles you can apply to make your shelves look like the dreamy images you see in magazines.

Shelf styling is an incredible yet easy way to add a personalised and stylish touch to your home. However, styling it so it forms a stunning focal point, instead of a distraction, is vital for a successful setup. If you’ve got long, open and floating varieties, styling them can be quite a conundrum and overwhelming. With a few simple tips and tricks of what items to choose and how to use them, you can upgrade your shelfie game from average to amazing!


In this blog, we’ve put together the rules and principles you can apply to make your shelves look like the dreamy images you see in magazines.


Best Items For Shelf Styling


To make your shelf appear visually aesthetic, it’s essential to pick items from different categories that vary in colour, shape, and size. Chances are that you already have plenty of items around the house, so shop your house before you go out to buy anything. Just keep in mind to create a perfect balance between things that will stand out and pieces that are simple and plain.


Lean Artwork


Framed photos and art are great items to begin with. No matter how big or small they are, pieces of artwork or photographs of special memories beautifully add a punch of character and personality to the shelf. Ideally, you could lean them against the wall — one of the many compositions of gallery walls.  Choose your favourite artwork pieces, create a focal point, and build the rest of the decor around them. Don’t forget to consider the height between the shelves and choose frames that fit the space. You would also want to think about your colour palette to decide which frames would work best with the decor.

Credit: Angela Rose Home


Framed photos and art are great items to begin with. No matter how big or small they are, pieces of artwork or photographs of special memories beautifully add a punch of character and personality to the shelf. Ideally, you could lean them against the wall — one of the many compositions of gallery walls.


Choose your favourite artwork pieces, create a focal point, and build the rest of the decor around them. Don’t forget to consider the height between the shelves and choose frames that fit the space. You would also want to think about your colour palette to decide which frames would work best with the decor.


Get Playful With Books


This may sound obvious and cliche, but utilising books is a great way to fill empty space on long shelves. You can create a beautiful shelf by stacking books horizontally and vertically, then butting the stacks up against one another to create an L-shape configuration.

Credit: NY Magazine


This may sound obvious and cliche, but utilising books is a great way to fill empty space on long shelves. You can create a beautiful shelf by stacking books horizontally and vertically, then butting the stacks up against one another to create an L-shape configuration.


Try coordinating the colours of book spines to bring in a pop of colour. If the books are new, place an old ornament with them to add balance to the vignette and overall feel. To create a little drama, consider colour blocking your books (clustering books according to the spine colours).

Credit: One Kind Design


Try coordinating the colours of book spines to bring in a pop of colour. If the books are new, place an old ornament with them to add balance to the vignette and overall feel. To create a little drama, consider colour blocking your books (clustering books according to the spine colours).


Place Vases, Bowls, And Pottery


Collect vases and pottery that fit your style but also match the colour palette. Go for a variety of shapes and sizes to create a chic finish — extra points for an arrangement of three!  Pieces that look weathered and aged with lots of patina and texture will go perfectly with pieces that have a glossy and simple finish, creating an attractive contrast.  Smaller bowls and vases can go on top of a stack of books, whilst larger pitchers and vases can make a statement and simplify an area with tons of smaller decor items.

Credit: The Glitter Guide


Collect vases and pottery that fit your style but also match the colour palette. Go for a variety of shapes and sizes to create a chic finish — extra points for an arrangement of three!


Pieces that look weathered and aged with lots of patina and texture will go perfectly with pieces that have a glossy and simple finish, creating an attractive contrast. Smaller bowls and vases can go on top of a stack of books, whilst larger pitchers and vases can make a statement and simplify an area with tons of smaller decor items.


Create A Visual Story


A complete shelf is one that tells a story not only visually but also emotionally. You can, for instance, place a photo of a recent holiday in a gorgeous frame alongside an old camera passed down to you. Similarly, you can place a contemporary dish and fill it with family heirlooms or jewellery given to you by a deceased loved one. You can also place an old note from them in a frame beside the dish. Or, you can simply highlight some of your favourite things. Such ideas will make your shelf (and home) feel soulful.

Credit: Our very own Interior Design Guru, Simeon!


A complete shelf is one that tells a story not only visually but also emotionally. You can, for instance, place a photo of a recent holiday in a gorgeous frame alongside an old camera passed down to you. Similarly, you can place a contemporary dish and fill it with family heirlooms or jewellery given to you by a deceased loved one. You can also place an old note from them in a frame beside the dish. Or, you can simply highlight some of your favourite things. Such ideas will make your shelf (and home) feel soulful.


Bring In Greenery


The best way to breathe a little life into any space is by placing some plants or flowers. Indoor plants have a stack of health benefits, too, such as improving air quality and even reducing blood pressure.   From pitchers to bowls to baskets, there is a wide range of stylish and affordable pots in which you can place your plants. The different shapes and sizes also allow you to add more dimension to your shelf styling.   If you don’t have a green thumb, you can go for faux plants. A few examples that look great whether real or artificial: Fan Palm Tree Spider Plants  Snake Plant  Monstera Leaf

Credit: Design Cafe


The best way to breathe a little life into any space is by placing some plants or flowers. Indoor plants have a stack of health benefits, too, such as improving air quality and even reducing blood pressure.


From pitchers to bowls to baskets, there is a wide range of stylish and affordable pots in which you can place your plants. The different shapes and sizes also allow you to add more dimension to your shelf styling.


If you don’t have a green thumb, you can go for faux plants. A few examples that look great whether real or artificial:

  • Fan Palm Tree

  • Spider Plants

  • Snake Plant

  • Monstera Leaf


Consider Colour And Layout


Choosing a colour palette will make it easier for you to select pieces that can create a cohesive design. Once you’re done choosing the items, start finding similarities in colour and texture. Do you have wood tones, or is there one accent colour you want to use? Decide the colours you want to focus on, and include plenty of neutral and plain options like cream, light grey, or white.


Since you want each shelf to be balanced but vary slightly from the other shelves, you need to pay attention to the layout. Aim to group items in 2 or 3 or simply place one large item on some shelves.


Final Words


It may seem complicated initially, but the trick is to just play around with your favourite pieces, keep the shelves decluttered and stick with a chosen colour palette to create an aesthetically pleasing shelf!


Need some support with styling your shelves? Just book one of our Interior Design Gurus here! They can look at your space over video chat and give you tips, ideas and guidance on how to achieve an interior that you love.
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