Simplified Decorating: How to Decorate Shelves
8 tips for decorating shelves to make them look perfectly styled and balanced every single time to make a statement in any room.
I’ve gotta say… I had no idea how much fun it would be to do this Simplified Decorating series until I got a bunch of requests from y’all.
Sometimes it’s just good to take it back to the basics so you don’t stand there staring at a table or a shelf feeling stuck. Decorator’s block… is that a thing?
We’ve tackled how to style end tables, how to decorate kitchen countertops, how to make a bed look fluffy on the cheap, and then while I was at it in the kitchen sprucing it the other week, I styled up our shelves too.
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I pinned and poured over all of the pretty shelf styling inspirations and realized there was a real method, a perfect balancing act to make every single piece of decor look purposeful.
So here goes.
How to Decorate Shelves
1. First, take everything off of the shelves and start with a blank slate.
2. Pull together items of different textures, colors, materials, shapes, and heights. Look around your home for items you probably already have.
3. Style just 1 shelf at a time or start with an item that makes a large statement as your focal point.
In my case, I wanted to style my kitchen shelves around this one piece of vintage style art in its gold frame.
4. Space out like items.
My two white Smeg appliances look similar, so I spaced them far apart by placing them in opposite corners of my shelves.
5. Repeat the same process by placing larger items on other places of your shelves to make them look balanced.
6. Add books.
Books pretty much always look great on shelves. Lean them against an interesting bookend or use them as a riser to create height for any smaller items you place on top in a stack. They create a great foundation for the next step: smaller accents.
7. Fill in between the larger decor with smaller accents.
I paid attention to like items again by spacing out the two clear glass pieces so that they look balanced.
8. Add plants.
Without that pop of green, shelves can seem boring and lifeless. And plants just make you feel good and breathe better so yay! A perk!
If you have a lot of room on your shelves, it helps to use the styling triangle too. Symmetry makes everything better.
See how the two gray items are balanced? The plants are balanced? The larger items are all equally spaced with the smaller accents placed in as filler? I swear the balancing act works.
Then, once you know the rules, you can figure out how to break the rules. Because being a rebel in decorating is fun. 😉
I like incorporating things that we’ll actually use like this concrete mortar and pestle to make guacamole.
And this cake stand to pull down whenever we have company to use as a serving piece for desserts.
And we definitely dive into that Magnolia Table cookbook because it is DANG good.
Here are all of our kitchen shelf sources, if you need them:
- Smeg kettle (This was splurge for me and a Black Friday gift to myself but I use it all the time!)
- Smeg toaster
- Vintage style oil landscape art
- Gold frame
- Concrete mortar and pestle (similar – mine was a clearance aisle find years ago at Ross)
- Glass decanter
- Glass salt cellar
- Houseplant watering can
- Sugar cellar
- Magnolia Table cookbook
- French Laundry cookbook
- Cake stand
- Pedestal bowl (similar – TJ Maxx find years ago)
- Candle pedestal (similar – mine was given to me as a gift)
If you need other ideas for decor to use on shelves, these are some of my favorites to include:
Plants & Flowers
Do you have any shelf styling tips you use? Or do you just wing it? When in doubt, go with your gut. A lot of times, it’s right.