Style Up Shelves

From styling a bookcase or open shelving it can be difficult to perfectly fill those spaces that display your individual personality and really allow a space to come to life! It’s important to have contrasting options in categories that differ in color, shape, and size because while maintaining consistency is important, you must bring a statement to each shelf. Keep in mind that while we stray away from consistent decorating it is important to have plenty of pieces that offer simplicity to bring balance to those that stand out within the shelf. Let me show you some of the elements that will pull those shelves together!

Photo by Dominika Roseclay via Pexels


It is pretty obvious that books are meant to be placed on a bookshelf. But instead of filling those books end to end consider stacking them together – some standing and some laying flat to offer variety. Use any book that fits the scene – it can be vintage, to Shakespeare, to designers, anything that adds character to the space! Be creative, cover old books in cloth to customize the look you want!

Artwork/ Framed Photos/ Signs

Implementing these decor staples are a great way to easily fill those shelves. Pick out your favorite pieces ranging from small shadow boxes to framed vintage photos, make them the main focal point and build around them. Hint: You can even fill a shelf with just framed pieces to make life easier. Think about dimension when adding these framed elements into your shelves to differentiate between size! Maintain consistency with the frame colors – are you feeling all black, natural wood, or all white. Whatever fits best with your decor is the way to go!

Plants & Florals

If you’re looking for that breath of fresh air to add to those shelves, implement plants or flowers to brighten the space. I recommend using faux greenery as those shelves can go overlooked from time to time. Throw those florals and greenery into unique pots, vases, baskets, or whatever you want to add some character. These faux staples can add a refreshed touch to those dark spaces!


Using items such as figurines or different objects will add an expressive touch to your shelves and make it much more interesting. Styling simple or plain pieces around these more unique pieces will allow them to make a statement. While these items are not a necessity I think it allows you to use these distinctive pieces to develop character, and shelving is the best place to do that. Check out my previous blog “Inanimate Objects Can Bring your Space Come to Life” for how these objects provide a unique character.

Vases / Bowls / Pottery

Add vases, bowls, or pottery that have different shapes, sizes, and finishes. Be sure these pieces are your style and are also within the same theme of the other tchotchkes on the shelves. Try implementing pieces that are weathered and offer a vintage look to give those shelves a bigger personality. Larger vases and bowls are easier to style alone, while smaller vases and bowls can be styled on top of books.

When styling these shelves it is important to maintain functionality throughout. A few other basic elements that go into styling shelves and allow a balance are color and layout.


Develop a general color palette, whether it’s neutral to vibrant colors. Sticking to a single color palette will create a more cohesive look. Between all your objects you are adding to your shelves find a central color – do you have a lot of pink tones, wood tones, or black tones? Whatever it is, spread those accent tones throughout the shelves spacing them differently.


Each shelf should somewhat vary from shelf to shelf, but still maintain balance. The shelves should have groupings of items no less than three and no more than five. By doing this you will design a look that is visually appealing, but very consistent with your chosen color palette.

Photo by Taryn Elliott via Pexels

Styling shelves can be hard, these are just a few tips and tricks to help you along the way!

If you enjoyed this post give it a like and follow me on my socials down below for more. Check out “How I Style My Open Arched Shelves ” by Athena Calderon via Eye-Swoon for more tips on those shelves!

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