Five Styling Tips for Shelves

Do you ever wonder what makes some peoples homes look pulled together and some don’t? Your home will look more pulled together if you take time to “style” a shelf, a dresser, a counter or anyt flat space in every room.

Styling just a few surfaces in your home or apartment can make a big impact. It can make it look like you decorated your place with intention. Follow these five styling tips.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to give your space an upgraded look.

Styling Tips for shelves

1.) Use The Rule of Three – Place things in groups of three when you are styling. For example, books, a plant and a book end. Books, a plant and a photo. I almost always use books because I have so many. I like to take the paper covers off. The spines are usually much nicer looking than the paper cover. You can learn more about the rule of three in design here.

This photo is an example, there are three different things on the shelf. There is something sculptural, a plant and books.

2.) Use Items that Vary in Height – There should be something low, something medium and something high. Not everything at one level. For example, if you have a tall lamp, choose a shorter plant and a medium height picture frame.

If everything is the same height it’s visually boring. Your eyes like a bit of contrast. Plants that are good for adding height are snake plants, and they are hard to kill.

3.) Use Items that Have Contrasting Colors – With books it can be easy to add many colors. For example, if you have a few blue books, don’t use a blue picture frame and a blue lamp. Mix up the colors and use a silver lamp and a wood-tone picture frame. It adds interest if one of the items is a metal, silver, gold or black.

4.) Use Items Made of Different Materials – Use something wood, something metal and something paper. You get the idea. If you have a wood lamp, don’t use a wood picture frame, try metal. If you have a white wood lamp use porcelain pot for your plant.

5.) Don’t overcrowd – Your eye likes to a break in the action. Try leaving some “negative” blank space so it looks like you did this on purpose.

Quick and Cheap Styling Props

Every time I style a bookshelf or the top of a dresser I start by shopping around my own house. I bet you have enough stuff around your home, too. I like to use some combination of these items: plants, books, lamp, a picture frame, a vase, paper or wood box, book ends and baskets. You can also add something purely sculptural for even more interest.

These shelves in my dining room illustrate all of these different elements of styling.

They don’t have to be expensive things and these are the fun things to collect from flea markets, garage sales and thrift stores.

This is the dresser in my bedroom. Here I’ve used a planter (from Ikea), a lamp (thrifted), some books and a picture frame. You can just keep adding and taking things away until you like the look. This dresser has more to it but it has the right variety of height, color and material.

If you like the artwork in this post, it was a free hand me down. You can find similar artwork at Minted. I like this one or this one.

Have you tried style a small place in your home? If so, what did you try?

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