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How to Style a Shelf, the Makings of a Great #Shelfie

style shelf. How to style a shelf kansas city interior design tips

I love my bookshelf, but if I’m being honest, I’ve had a really hard time styling it. My shelf is unique in that it leans against the wall so it’s not totally level and because it doesn’t have sides there isn’t anything to prop stuff up against. I’ve always struggled with the area outside the two rails on either end–always wanting to put things there but it never feels right when I do. Its gone through many iterations (you can see in my previous post how it was just a few weeks ago, click here), but about a month ago I had a light bulb moment. I knew it needed to be streamlined. I love design books as much as the next decorphile, but the time had come, I knew what my shelf needed and it wasn’t books. Plants, pottery and crystals–that was it I told myself. That was all I would put on the shelf. 

I decided to write a post about it because shelf styling is one of the biggest requests I get from my clients. Its tricky and can be intimidating. Everyones challenges are unique, but with a few tips to guide you, you too can master the art of shelf arranging! I’m divulging a few things I’ve learned and I’ve reached out to a few pro’s to see how they create that perfect #shelfie

One of my biggest pieces of advice is don’t be afraid to try new things! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-done this shelf. If you aren’t totally happy with it, move things around until you start to get somewhere. In my case I played around with accessories I already owned and then went shopping for a few pieces after I had an idea of what would finish it off perfectly. Having a vision and a plan kept things simple–I wasn’t to stray from my 3 items: plants, crystals and pottery. Then I found that lovely stone sculpture on the bottom shelf and I broke my own rule! But the color works with the palette and I love it, so rules be damned! 

*tip: group accessories together and have variations in height, you typically want things balanced without being “matchy” 

I’ve always admired interior designer Amanda Steiner’s ability to create beautifully edited shelfies. Her trick to turn some of the book bindings to the back is genius, it keeps the shelf from feeling too busy. The above photo is from her own home and she says: “I like to display a thoughtful selection of books, collections of meaningful objects such as handmade pottery or framed art, and of course live plants. Arranging items so that they are visually balanced, along with keeping a consistent color palette, will give you a well-curated look.” 

* tip: lean art against the wall to help fill vertical space (above photo: interior design and styling by Amanda Steiner)

How to style a shelf kansas city interior design tips

Another persons styling work I love is Kyla of House of Hipsters. She is always up to something at her house and she is no stranger to styling a good shelfie. Her collection of art is admirable so it was no surprise that when I asked her to chime in with a tip she recommended art: “Add artwork you love and adore. I found an oversized watercolor on Chairish. When it arrived, I researched the artist and Google told me he was an art teacher who recently passed away. A seller on eBay bought every piece from his estate sale, and I immediately snapped up two smaller pieces that I display on my shelf. Not only does each piece match my color palette perfectly, but they also have a fun story and I love them.” 

How to style a shelf* tip: layer art and accessories and don’t be afraid to use lamps as part of the composition! It all plays a part in perfecting a beautiful moment. (above photo: another great shelfie at Kyla’s house) 

Have a great shelfie moment? We’d love to see it! Tag us on Instagram and use our hashtag #mycovetedhome and as always, we are here to help you design your life

Last two photos by Emilia Jane Photography for House of Hipsters.