The Best Way to Style Your Shelves

Believe it or not, shelves are a big thing in the interior world. The hashtag #shelfie has over 2.1 million posts and has loads of offspring’s like #shelfiesunday, #shelfiedecor and #shelfielove. The shelves under my stairs are still my most liked post on Instagram and any posts with a shelf or bookshelf in it does well.

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The shelves under our stairs. Always a ratings hit!

Why is that? I don’t really know the answer but I think people just like “stuff” cleverly displayed together that doesn’t look like sh!t. A bit like gallery walls, I often get people messaging me saying they want to put a shelf up but don’t know where to start when it comes to styling it, so I thought I’d put a quick blog post together to give you some inspiration.

I’ve recently put up these amazing Link Shelves by Fy! and you can read about my office/play room revamp here.

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My latest shelfie attempt. Shelves are the Link shelf from iamfy.com

Stuff

That’s right, stuff! You’ll need lots of stuff to style it up. Now, you’ve probably gone and bought a shelf or a bookcase to put, you know, books on them! But there’s still no reason that it can’t look stylish.

If you have just bought your bookcase to just put books on them, then this blog post probably isn’t for you! But if you’ve bought some shelves because you want to jazz up a corner of your room and impress your Instagram followers (we ALL want to do that, let’s face it!), then read on…

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When I am grown up and have stopped with the faffing, I want mine to look like this! Image credit: @hornsby_style
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The most amazing reading nook with a view, surrounded by book shelves. Source unknown

How to layer

Start with larger items first like baskets or art/prints so you can see how much space you have to play with. If you want to put some books (shock horror) on a shelf, then place them next.

Don’t feel like you have to put them all together on one shelf, they look better mixed up and in odd numbers!

Next, fill your shelves with plants which add a pop of colour and life to a shelf and if you have hanging plants, this will help determine what to put underneath them. Finally, the decorative objects can easily be slotted into the spaces that are left.

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Link shelves from www.iamfy.co

And what about a theme?

I think it all depends on the room they are in. If the room is quite neutral, then keep them neutral with monochrome art and a few plants to give the shelves a bit of life.

If you have a colour scheme running throughout the room already, add pieces onto the shelf that reflect that scheme.

My office already had lots of green and pink, plants and natural elements like wood and rattan in the room so I decided to keep my shelves similar. I get asked a lot of questions about colour and what to put in a gallery wall or shelves and I think you just have to go with what you love.

If you already have a collection of items ready to go, lay them out and I think 9 times out of 10, you will already see a theme running through them, so stick with it.

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This bright blue bookshelf looks fantastic against the white wall. Image credit: @thatssogemma

shelf, shelves, bookcase, bookshelf, shelfie, styling, interior styling, homewares, books, interiors, shelf styling, plants, house plants

A colourful retro feel in the kitchen. Image credit: @nest_number_9

Now, what do I put on them?

I’d start with baskets or boxes or anything to keep your “not worthy for insta” stuff hidden away! We have large baskets at the bottom of our hallway bookcase which hold all our shoes, scarves, gloves and whatever else the kids decide to throw in (think Lego pieces, discarded apply cores. Yes, my kids are total grotbags) and they are the best addition to our house ever. Fact.

shelf, shelves, bookcase, bookshelf, shelfie, styling, interior styling, homewares, books, interiors, shelf styling, plants, house plants

shelf, shelves, bookcase, bookshelf, shelfie, styling, interior styling, homewares, books, interiors, shelf styling, plants, house plants
Start with some baskets. Shelves www.iamfy.co
These Kotak baskets from La Redoute are great for hiding things on shelves.

Art/prints

Next on the list is your art pieces. Go for different sizes and place them on different shelves. The bigger or taller art pieces should go at the top as they are great for adding height. I tend to put the smaller pieces at the bottom so they are easily seen.

Again, keep the colour theme of the art or prints the same as either the room or the items going on the shelf. Unless you’re going for full on rainbow!

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The large pink print adds height
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Love this floral print by maxmademedoit.com

Books

What shelves were made for! I always try to add a few books on any shelf and mix it up. Stack them vertically and horizontally and instead of keeping them all together, space them out over the shelves.

You can also add height and layering by placing small items on top of your vertical books like a small candle or decorative item.

I absolutely love how Martha has styled her colourful books on her shelves, matching the books with colour coordinated vases! She has also written a book called Shelfie on how to style your shelves!

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The most colourful bedroom with shelves to match. Image credit: @the_colour_file
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Love how Martha has colour coded her books with pots! Martha actually wrote a book called Shelfie which you can purchase here.

shelf, shelves, bookcase, bookshelf, shelfie, styling, interior styling, homewares, books, interiors, shelf styling, plants, house plants

shelf, shelves, bookcase, bookshelf, shelfie, styling, interior styling, homewares, books, interiors, shelf styling, plants, house plants

Plants

Plants are fabulous at adding life to your shelf, just like they are in your home. I think the best kind of plants to use on a shelf are succulents, cactuses and hanging plants like English Ivy, Pothos, String of Pearls and the Lipstick Plant.

There are so many plant pots to choose from these days, they can also add colour and texture to your shelf.

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I love this lipstick plant

shelf, shelves, bookcase, bookshelf, shelfie, styling, interior styling, homewares, books, interiors, shelf styling, plants, house plants

shelf, shelves, bookcase, bookshelf, shelfie, styling, interior styling, homewares, books, interiors, shelf styling, plants, house plants
Succulents and Cacti are the perfect plants for your shelf! Cacti – Gardening Express

Typography

Typography is hugely popular in the home and I think it is also a great way to add interest to your shelves. Go with your favourite quote in a frame or add letters or words as a stand along piece.

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Hello sign from @albertandmoo

shelf, shelves, bookcase, bookshelf, shelfie, styling, interior styling, homewares, books, interiors, shelf styling, plants, house plants

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Blah Blah Blah print – Etsy UK

Candles

Where are you going to put that huge collection of candles that are currently gathering dust in multiple drawers? Your shelves of course. Again, they can be a fabulous decorative piece in their own right, or they look great stacked on top of vertical books.

Just remember to take them off your shelves when you light them to save you burning the shelf above like I did! I wondered why the scent smelt so “woody”

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Your shelves deserve beautiful candles! Seychelles – The White Company

Vases of stuff

I also have a few vases dotted around the shelves which have faux flowers, peacock leaves and pencils in. Again, vases are a great way to display objects and add colour and texture to your shelf.

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Vase and peacock feathers from The Living Room

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Copper vases from made.com

Metallics

Which leads me onto metallic homewares! I love metallic items like brass, gold, copper and silver. They bounce light back from the shelves and again add a real feature and focal point to the shelves.

You can place metallic candle holders, plant pots, vases and letters, just make sure you stick to the same elements like gold, brass, copper etc or silver and nickel.

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And finally, the fun part!

Fill the left-over spaces with decorative items! Anything goes really, display all the little knick-knacks that you have collected over the years from colourful bottles, paint tester pots, animal ornaments or a favourite pot.

Play around with your styling as at first, you might think that something will not go with the rest of the items on the shelves. But when you stand back, you realise it was always meant to be there!

shelf, shelves, bookcase, bookshelf, shelfie, styling, interior styling, homewares, books, interiors, shelf styling, plants, house plants

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The shelves in my green living room

You’ve styled your shelfie!

As you are adding pieces to your shelves, it is always a good idea to stand back and make sure it is working for you. There really are no rules when it comes to styling, these are just guidelines to help you get on your way.

To make your shelves really work, keep to the same colour palette as the room. Or, if the room is very neutral you could add some brightly coloured items on your shelf to really make it pop!

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The white shelves, plants and art work really pop against the dark blue in my kitchen
Kimberly has used her shelves to display her bags and shoes in her dressing room. Image credit: @swoonworthyblog

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But, most importantly, display items you love. I always get asked so many questions about how to style a room, create a gallery wall or how to use colour in general.

I think if you stick to items and colours that you truly love, you will find that the scheme will develop naturally.

Mel x

shelf, shelves, bookcase, bookshelf, shelfie, styling, interior styling, homewares, books, interiors, shelf styling, plants, house plants

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