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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

5. Repeat the same process by placing larger items on other places of your shelves to make them look balanced.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

If you have a lot of room on your shelves, it helps to use the styling triangle too. Symmetry makes everything better.

That’s it!

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.

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.

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.

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.

And this cake stand to pull down whenever we have company to use as a serving piece for desserts.

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.

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:

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.

If you need other ideas for decor to use on shelves, these are some of my favorites to include:

Bowls

Vases

Objects

Boxes

Candle Holders

Framed Art

Plants & Flowers

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.

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.

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12 Comments

  1. It never occurred to me that this doesn’t come natural to everybody until I saw a lady lining up 3 large vases in the store floor one day. I asked her if she was setting up bowing pins. She had a really long set of bookcases and didn’t know how to decorate them. So-naturally I taught her how to make vignettes- and buy a lot more stuff.

  2. I plan to take everything off my garden window this weekend and start over with your tips! BTW…are the framed recipes your grandmas? I have one of my grandmas and it is starting to fade. Any tip to help with that issue? I can’t bare the thought of it fading away but I want to be able to display it!