Our Tried & True Shelf Styling Tips

Shelves are more than just functional storage spaces; they are opportunities to showcase your style, personality, and creativity. Whether you have built-in bookshelves, floating shelves, or a simple wall-mounted unit, how you style them can significantly impact the overall look and feel of a room. Keep reading to discover six of our expert shelf styling tips that will help you master the art of shelf styling and transform your space.

1. Embrace Contrast: Split the Shelf

One of the most crucial rules of shelf styling is to avoid putting the same type or shape of item adjacent to each other. This applies to items like art, figurines, or any other decorative pieces. By splitting the shelf and dispersing similar items throughout, you create visual interest and prevent monotony.

Imagine a bookshelf with all your art pieces clustered together – it lacks dynamism and becomes less engaging. Instead, mix things up. Place your artwork alongside books, vases, or other objects to create a visually appealing display.


2. Go for Neatness: Square Up Your Accessories

An old-school approach to shelf styling was angling your decorative pieces on shelves. The modern approach to shelf styling emphasizes neatness and organization. Square up your accessories by placing them in a clean, orderly fashion. In the past, angling was a way to create a dynamic look, but nowadays, clean lines and a balanced arrangement take center stage.

3. Less is More: Avoid Over-Accessorizing

It's tempting to fill every available space on your shelves with decorative items. However, remember the cliche saying that less is sometimes more. Over-accessorizing can lead to a cluttered and chaotic look that overwhelms the senses.

Instead, opt for a minimalist approach. Select a few key pieces that hold meaning to you or align with the room's theme. These carefully chosen items will have a more significant impact on your display and allow each piece to stand out and shine. To find items you love, be sure to shop our beautiful selection of decor that is just perfect for shelf styling.

4. Consider Placement: Know What to Put Where

The placement of items on your shelves should be intentional and practical. Here are some guidelines to consider:

Baskets on Top or Bottom: We love to reserve either the upper or lower shelves for storage baskets or containers. This not only helps keep clutter hidden but also adds a functional aspect to your shelving unit.

Greenery Where it Makes Sense: Live plants need oxygen to thrive, so avoid placing faux plants inside closed glass cabinets and hutches, or on the top shelf. Place your faux plants on open shelves and in places where real plants could be reached to be watered. This will help your greenery look more realistic and functional.

5. Play with Colors: Keep Contrast in Mind

Colors play a significant role in shelf styling. When arranging items on your shelves, think about color contrast. Avoid placing dark-colored items on dark shelves, as they can easily blend in and go unnoticed. Conversely, light-colored items on light shelves can also lack visual impact.

To create an eye-catching display, aim for contrast. Place lighter items on darker shelves and vice versa. This contrast will make your items pop and draw the viewer's eye, adding depth and interest to your shelving arrangement.

6. Pay Attention to Scale: Let Your Shelf Breathe

Scale is a vital element of successful shelf styling. Each item on your shelf should have enough space to breathe and be appreciated individually. To achieve this, consider the following:

The Rule of Thirds: Divide your shelves into three horizontal sections, and arrange your items in a balanced manner across these sections. This will help distribute the visual weight evenly and create a harmonious look.

Don't Be Afraid to Move Shelves: Adjust the height of your shelves if necessary to accommodate taller items. This flexibility allows you to experiment and find the perfect configuration for your display.


Shelf styling is a combination of creativity and design principles. By embracing contrast, organizing your accessories neatly, avoiding over-accessorizing, and considering placement and color contrast, you can transform your shelves into captivating design elements. Remember that scale matters, and don't hesitate to experiment with the arrangement until you find the perfect balance.

With these expert shelf styling tips in mind, you're well-equipped to elevate your space and turn your shelves into stunning showcases of your personal style. If you still feel like you don’t want the hassle of styling your shelves on your own, check out our Accessory Van service. We load up all the decor you’ll need into our van, drive to your home, and style your shelves, making the process completely seamless and easy for you. Whichever option you choose - happy styling!

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