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10 Shelf Styling Tips

When you have some empty shelves to decorate, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. You don’t want it too cluttered or busy looking. You want it to look perfect, but you’re not always sure what looks just right. In styling my own shelves and by studying what others have done, let me share 10 shelf styling tips to make it easy and beautiful!

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Styling my shelves

I will be sharing some photos from my own shelves surrounding our fireplace. You can read about this entire fireplace wall makeover here: https://lizzydesignsblog.com/fireplace-makeover-diy-mantel-and-painting-the-tile/

I’ve also gathered photos from some of my favorite Instagram accounts. Seeing shelf styling in action is the best way to get ideas for styling your own!

Finally, at the bottom of this post I chose some favorite items to shop from under several categories of shelf styling.

How do I style my shelves?

Here are the 10 Shelf Styling Tips:

1. Choose a Color Scheme

The colors you choose depends on the look of the whole room, the colors of the things you have, and what colors you like! You may want to go all neutral, neutral with a pop or two of color, or with one or several colors throughout.

Pops of blue and neutrals is the color scheme here.
Yellows, grays and white is the color scheme here.
I chose a neutral color scheme.

2. Group Objects Together

To create balance and avoid looking cluttered, grouping objects is pleasing to the eye. On a tray or in a basket are ways to group several smaller objects together. You can also group some on a stack of books. Alternate one large object and a group of two or three smaller objects throughout. You’re looking for good spacing in between the groupings.

She grouped objects on books and on a tray.
She grouped objects together using baskets.

3. Create Different Heights

Within the groupings and the spacing, it looks nice to have objects at different heights. Pedestals, risers, and stacks of books are great at creating some variations in height. Also simply having a variety of short and tall objects!

I used stacks of books to create height. I also used a little riser.
She also used books to create different levels of height.

4. Layer Objects

Lean a photo or art piece on the shelf and layer objects in front of it. Or layer several art pieces, trays, cutting boards, etc. together.

She layered photos when shelf styling
She layered artwork when shelf styling.

5. Vary Sizes

Again, this creates balance. Try to have different sized objects scattered throughout, including several large objects.

She used a variety of sizes when shelf styling.
There are a variety of sizes used in her shelf styling.

6. Add Different Textures

Ceramics, baskets, metals, woods, plants, glass, books…different textures add interest and look beautiful.

When she styled these shelves, she used lots of different textures.
She used different textures when styling her shelves like wood, wicker, glass and ceramic.

7. Use Geometric Shapes

Geometric shapes pull you in. They’re so eye catching!

geometric shapes used when shelf styling
She used geometric shapes when styling her shelves,
geometric shapes when shelf styling

8. Add Plants

Personally, I think plants are always the answer. They add life and the perfect pops of natural green that go with everything!

plants in shelf stylling
I used plants when styling my shelves.
Plants in shelf styling

9. Use Objects that have Meaning

Display objects and photos that have a special meaning to you and that bring back special memories.

Personal photos have special meaning
Use items that have special meaning when shelf styling

10. Check for Balance

As you go and in the end, check that everything is balanced. For instance, check that from shelf to shelf the number of groupings alternate. I prefer the look of say three groupings on one shelf, then two, then maybe three again, etc. so it’s not too uniform. Also scatter each type of object throughout. For example, you wouldn’t lump all the largest objects together, instead you’d scatter them somewhat evenly. Same with all the say blue items, plants, things of similar texture, and all the other things on this list! You will step back and check for balance many times as you go until it is “perfect”.

shelf styling

Shop Items for Shelf Styling

Trays and Risers

Plants, Vases and Pots

Geometric Shapes


Decorative Bowls

Misc. Items


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