7 DIY Tips for Stunning Styled Shelves

January 31, 2016

There's something magical about well-styled shelves. They looks so clean, so simple, and so effortless. So why is it nearly impossible to get the look at home? You've probably gotten 75% of the way there and stopped with either too much, or too little on your shelves. To help you go all the way, we've put together a few of our own "best practices" to help you complete the thought on your own shelves. For more inspiration, visit our Pinterest board , which is chock full of images of absolutely beautifully styled shelves just for you! 

1. Start fresh and remove everything - yes EVERYTHING - from your shelves. You'll have a better feel for the project at hand and may see it in a whole new light.

2. Get organized! Create your own "store" with all of the items you've removed, and of any other objects, books, vases, that you have available. We typically use a nearby table or area rug and organize our store by object, and the objects by color. This will give you a feel of the scale, color and quantity of available items.

3. Don't forget the books! We always prefer hardback books in all of our shelving displays - they hold up better and often provide a larger scale and visual interest. If you're lacking hardbacks, visit a local secondhand store or even one of our favorite sources, booksbythefoot.com. We like to group our books by size and color when giving shelves a unified look, but we're never afraid to get creative when we stack them. Try them horizontal or vertical until you get the look you want.


Take the jackets off your books to reveal beautiful spines with lots of character.
Displaying them by size and color also adds to a quiet composition.


4. Practice restraint. As you begin to style each shelf, focus on objects that have beauty and meaning, but be prepared not to use everything. Less is more when styling shelves. We recommend leaving about 10-15% of your shelves space open with the goal is to create focal points that tell a story, not overwhelm.




5. Start from the bottom up. Begin by using the largest items like baskets, framed artwork or oversized vases to visually ground your shelves.

 Mixing existing accents with low-cost treasures and
beautiful books
added soul to this custom bookcase.


6. Once you have your foundation items, add layers! Placing items of varying heights in front of and behind each other can turn a lackluster shelf into a great vignette.  Be sure to include those meaningful items and place the littlest items as accents, last.


 7. As you layer, take a step back and get a feel for what feels right, and what doesn't. Are they too symmetrical, or too heavy on one side? Visit your "store" and try out objects that vary in scale. If you don't find something quite right, set aside some budget for accessory shopping. We often find one-of-a-kind accents at antique stores and shop for bargain filler pieces at second-hand stores and, of course, IKEA. Designing is a process, so if you're not sure, let it sit for a day or two and revisit with fresh eyes!



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