How to Decorate Shelves in 6 Simple Steps


Shelves and bookcases are the perfect place to display treasured items while adding visual interest to a space. However, if not arranged properly, shelving can just collect clutter and make a room look messy. Shelving styling is trickier than it looks, and it’s easy to get discouraged when your bookcases don’t look like the ones you see on social media. Following these steps will ensure that your shelves look great and show off your personal style. These shelving decorating ideas will inspire you for your next design project.


Before starting any design project, it is important to assess the space and establish the fixed elements you are working with. Take the measurements of the shelves and note the width, height and depth. Determine if you want to keep the shelves in their current configuration or raise or lower them to vary the height of each shelf. When considering decorating a shelf, remember that the most visually appealing shelves feature a mix of colors, sizes, and textures as well as a juxtaposition between new and vintage items. Buy the items you already own before heading to the store for modern shelf decor.

how to decorate shelves

STEP 1: Clear the shelves for a fresh start.

If the shelves are full, clean them completely to create a blank canvas. Now would be a good time to dust and clean the shelves thoroughly so they’re ready for their makeover. At this point you can also consider painting the shelf or the wall behind the shelves to make the whole arrangement stand out. While a neutral palette is eternally appealing, black shelving brings depth to a space while colorful shelving is visually striking.

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STEP 2: Consider color and texture.

Now that your shelves are clean and empty, it’s time to start gathering your shelf decorations. Determine a basic color scheme for the shelf that complements the rest of the room. When dealing with colorful objects, consider placing items together in similar tones. Alternatively, if you have a few pieces of the same bright color, place them in opposite corners. Those aiming for a neutral color scheme might consider placing the books with their spines facing inwards so that only the pages are visible, although this may frustrate some bibliophiles.

Another way to add visually interesting decor to the shelves is to ensure that there is a combination of textures represented on the shelves. Include natural, textured objects like seashells, woven baskets, and wooden accessories, as well as smooth, shiny objects like those made of glass or metal in shades of gold, silver, or bronze depending on the color palette. space colors.

STEP 3: Place large items first.

Start with the largest objects, because not only do they take up the most space, but they also often have the greatest visual impact. Since these items are the most powerful, it’s important to pick the ones you like. Second level parts can be stored out of sight. Try placing similar objects, like picture frames or large pieces of pottery, diagonally to each other. This creates a visually pleasing tableau that subtly encourages viewers to admire the entirety of the shelf. Put your favorite pieces at eye level so they’re easy to see. When placing items that you use regularly, make sure they are easily accessible.

how to decorate shelves

STEP 4: Complete with smaller elements.

Once the larger elements are placed, fill in the gaps using smaller decorative objects. While symmetry is often used as a design principle, asymmetry tends to work best when working with smaller objects. Generally speaking, elements grouped in odd numbers look better than those grouped in even numbers. Place three or five similar objects together rather than two or four. Alternatively, scatter visually similar items, such as those made of the same type of material, throughout the shelf for a more dynamic look.

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STEP 5: Add layers to create height and depth.

One of the most important techniques when decorating a shelf is layering. Make sure there is a mix of tall, medium and short items to get the best results. Books, when stacked horizontally, provide extra height, allowing you to display smaller items on top. Boxes and other containers can also be used as risers.

Rather than aligning all elements on the same visual plane, create depth by using thin, flat elements like picture frames or decorative plates to provide a backdrop for small elements to place in front of them to be viewed from above. foreground.

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STEP 6: Adjust placement of elements to balance visual weight and colors.

Once you’ve made a first attempt at placing all the decorations on the shelf, it’s time to step back and assess how it looks. Try taking a picture of the arrangement to provide a different perspective. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect right away; the decoration of the shelves often requires some adjustments. If things seem cluttered, create some empty space by removing one or more items from the shelf.

Once you’ve decided on an arrangement, consider illuminating the shelf using spotlights or spotlights. Keep organizing the shelves over time, gradually adding new pieces that you love.

how to decorate shelves

Best Items to Display on Shelves

  • Books not only show your interests but also provide height when stacked.
  • Plants bring the space to life and add a splash of color and texture. Try to place the plants in an easily accessible place so that you can water them regularly.
  • Family pictures add a unique and personal element, making sure your shelves don’t look generic. Avoid adding too many family photos to a shelf, as the effect can end up looking dated.
  • Vases add height and provide a container to display flowers or greenery. They can also be used as decorative bookends.
  • Art can add a bold splash of color and show off your personal style. Used pieces from a thrift store can be as beautiful as those purchased from a gallery.
  • collections of any kind look great when grouped together, especially if the items vary in size. Collections can also be scattered in a shelf for a more eclectic look.
  • Personal touches like family heirlooms and travel keepsakes will make your library stand out and evoke fond memories.
  • Baskets not only add texture when woven from a natural material like rattan or wicker, but also serve as a handy tote for items that may not be as visually appealing.
  • Sculptures ceramic or metal add unique shapes to the shelf.
  • Decoration accessories in interesting colors or textures can serve as bookends or simply provide visual interest.
  • Magazine rack come in a wide range of colors and patterns and serve as functional storage for important files.

Final Thoughts

I hope after reading this article you will have a better idea of ​​how to decorate shelves. These bookshelf decorating ideas should make your bookshelves look stylish, intentional, and unique.

About Bernard Kraft

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