Kait Bos

How to Style a Shelf in 6 Easy Steps

I recently painted and added marble adhesive paper to this shelf (like everyone else on pinterest) but when I was styling it I came up with a couple of ideas that I haven’t seen anywhere else so I thought I […]

I recently painted and added marble adhesive paper to this shelf (like everyone else on pinterest) but when I was styling it I came up with a couple of ideas that I haven’t seen anywhere else so I thought I would share them with you! My favourite part about this shelf is how I incorporated something that represents everyone in my family. See my 6 easy tips for styling a shelf with your family in mind below. 

Step 1: Personalize

Gather all the items that bring you joy and are a part of your story. Think outside the box! My shelf includes a piece of art and a tray that I stood up to act as a background. Items that may be included are:

  • fashion accessories
  • books
  • kid’s toys
  • art
  • trays

Step 2: Identify a theme and colour palette

Bring all the items that you love and want to display into one area so you can see everything at once. Start grouping like items into categories like colour, texture, material, theme. Depending on the size of your shelf pick a few categories to use. For example this shelf has four shelves, five if you count the top. For the size of this shelf  I have five categories which are: wood, brass/antique, bold graphics, pink/kid friendly, organic (plants). Bonus points for if your items can cross categories eg. my plant is in a graphic black and white pot.

Step 3: Focal Point

One of the main elements of any good design is to create a focal point. This is because you need somewhere to rest your eye. If the piece/creation/shelf is too busy it can be overwhelming or conversely, if everything on your shelf is the same colour it can come across as boring and flat. As you look at your grouped items does anything stand out? I had a couple bags that I wanted to include but my eye kept going to my star purse. I knew I wanted to include a bag on my shelf when I saw Jill Lansky from The August Diaries display her Celine bag on her shelf. My bag is not designer (it’s Zara!) but I love it and I think it’s worthy of a display.

If you’re having a hard time picking a focal point ask a few people. Ask the people in your house or send a picture of your items to a trusted friend to ask what they look at first.

Step 4: Add organic elements

I think adding plants adds life so they should be included on every shelf. I’m not a plant person so I looked for ones that were hard to destroy like ivy.

Step 5: Start shelving

This is where the fun beings! Start with your focal point and put your pieces on the shelf, creating little vignettes or artful groups. Think practically on where your pieces should go. For me I can’t secure the shelf to the wall so I had to put the heavy items on the bottom for safety’s sake. Also I added the basket of kids toys on the bottom shelf so they’re reachable by little fingers. Mix your categories together: group different colours and textures together, create shapes, and have fun! Think outside the box as I mentioned in step 1 and stand up trays, add art, fashion, etc.

Step 6: Fill in the blanks

This project can easily last hours so focus on the pieces and groups that you are certain about and then take a break. Come back with fresh eyes and see which categories need less or more items. I added more plants, a graphic box from another room, and a book to finalize parts of my shelf. These items don’t necessarily bring me joy but they create balance. Some ideas are:

  • candle holders
  • plant pots
  • trinket boxes
  • books

If you’re on a budget visit thrift stores to find items that would work. Second hand shops are full of great one-of-a kind items that will definitely add a unique touch to your shelf.

That’s it! This project is all about having fun and creating something beautiful by displaying items that mean a lot to you and your family.


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