Looking at an empty bookcase or built-in that you want to see styled can be overwhelming, and getting started is often the biggest challenge. If you're reading this at home, the good news is you're already in the right place! Many of our go-to shelf accessories are actually common household goods that have been given new life on display, you just need to dig them out of storage and give them a chance.
Keep it simple by starting with these basics, and let your creativity lead the way. Happy Styling!!
Built-in Build + Design: Graystone Custom Builders
Cabinetry Color: Benjamin Moore Lead Gray 2131-30
If your vases aren't already on display in your home, they're probably stashed away in a cupboard and only see the light of day on a special occasion. Let's change that! Show off your vases year round in your built-ins and open shelving. Vases bring height, shape, texture and color to your styling arrangement, and they double as a work of art with their unique silhouettes. Simple, clear vases can be displayed with more interest by grouping them as a collection or pairing them next to a bolder item. Since vases can vary so much in their characteristics, multiple vases can be used in an arrangement without looking repetitive.
Vases don't even have to be filled to be included on a shelf display. In fact, vases that stand close to the height of the shelves should be left empty simply because there is not enough open space above for anything to pop out of the top. We like to give vases some "room to breathe" by keeping a few inches of empty space between the vase opening and the shelf above it.
If you do hope to fill the vases on your shelves, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind. Fresh florals are beautiful but they don't last forever. If replacing the blooms every week isn't practical for you, opt for a faux or dried bouquet. Branches and sticks can also add height without the maintenance of flowers. Clear vases can be filled with a variety of objects that don't necessarily peek out the top such as a collection of stones, wooden spools or marbles (depending on the style you want to achieve).
BONUS TIP: Recycle your empty glass drinking bottles as vases by removing the labels and displaying them as home decor. Coke bottles make for a vintage statement!
Decorative boxes are great items to display on open shelving for many reasons. Aside from the interest they can bring with their varying materials and designs, boxes double as concealed storage for items you'd rather not show off. Large boxes or stacks of boxes are great for taking up a chunk of space on your shelves to balance out the collections of smaller items. These tall box set ups also work well on higher shelves because they're still visible from the ground. However, if you're utilizing your boxes as storage that you pull from often, we recommend keeping the boxes displayed within arm's reach -- no stepladder needed!
Whether you're an avid reader or not, we bet you've got books! Stack large coffee table books on top of one another to show off their spines (color and interest: check!) and build up platforms to highlight an object sitting on top. Smaller chapter books can be lined up (standing up like those in a library) to create a collection that takes up more horizontal space. Bookends or other sturdy objects can be used on each end of the collection to keep the books upright.
In comes the texture! Woven rattan, wicker and seagrass baskets bring in a natural element to your shelf styling arrangement. These warm, earth tones are full of natural beauty and spark a handmade feel that makes everything more special. Baskets vary in shape from lidded boxes to round bowls with handles, and like vases and boxes, can be filled or left empty. Moral of the story: baskets are versatile!
Pull out those picture frames, we've found a spot for them! At least a few of them... We have no shame in displaying some family memories on your shelves but we do recommend narrowing them down to your favorites and grouping them with other objects. A whole shelf or bookcase full of framed photos breaks our rule of diversity (and feels a bit like grandma's house).
Frames are great because they can fill space both vertically and horizontally. The border of the frame can vary in color and texture to bring in different elements, and of course, the photo adds personality and sentiment to your shelves. Larger frames can even lean against the back of a bookshelf with smaller items layered in front to add depth to your arrangement.
BONUS TIP: Frames aren't just for awkward family photos -- magazine clippings, fabric swatches, flags and art all make for unique talking points on your shelves.
Spruce up your #shelfie with greenery! Real or faux, plants bring home decor to life with their natural beauty. If you're putting the real deal on display, keep care in mind -- does the shelf get enough sunlight and is it in reach for you to water? Faux plants have more flexibility on where they can be placed, but sunlight is actually still a concern. It's best to keep faux plants out of direct sun because the leaves can fade or turn unrealistic colors.
BONUS TIP: Placing faux plants on higher shelves can help them look more real since the details can't be seen up close and the leaves are out of reach to be touched. In contrast to real flowers... we typically keep fresh florals on counter height spaces or lower so they can be enjoyed below eye level (looking up to the bottom of a bouquet isn't as pretty as the lush petals on top!).
Don't be a square, add some interest! A solid #shelfie mixes up the straight lines of boxes, books and frames with uniquely shaped objects. A few of our go-to's are statues and figurines, bells and globes. Since these curved and intricate items don't fit into a standard shape, they make your whole arrangement more interesting.
Corral your collection of smaller or like items with a tray to keep shelves from feeling cluttered. Grouping objects on a common ground unifies the collection to feel like one item while still offering the interest of the many pieces. Trays are typically kept at eye level or below since their low profile disappears on the higher shelves.
BONUS TIP: A tray can also be utilized as a "drop zone" on shelves that you're pulling from often. Keys, wallets and sunglasses aren't typical #shelfie material, but if they're confined to a decorative tray, we're all for the multifunctional display!
Like vases, you probably have a stock of candles that either never make it out on display or are waiting to replace the burning one on your counter top. Make use of those pretty vessels and canisters now on your shelves! Candles come in so many interesting jars and that's what we what you to show off. Place them on a stack of books, next to a tall vase or against standing books as a bookend.
Candle sticks can also be used with candle holders to offer thin height and contrast bulkier items.
DISCLAIMER: Burning candles displayed on shelves is actually a huge NO because of the rising heat and smoke from the flame. Please move to an open air space for burning!
10. PERSONAL TREASURES
Last but furthest from least are the personal treasures, souvenirs and memorabilia that you've collected over the years and tell the story of your life. Instead of hoarding these collectables in closets and drawers, show them off on your shelves to make your #shelfie truly one-of-a-kind. The less "store-bought" your collection of shelf accessories look the better. Have fun with it and be proud of what you have to show!