Home Upgrades: Learn How To Decorate Shelves Like An Expert

When it comes to upgrading your home decor, you can find guides on how to decorate your bedroom walls or your living room, even tips about the right place to put the TV in the living room or the bedroom. All household items should have their spot in the house to work well together and make your home look neat and tidy. 

Grey chair and black shelves in a room interior full of plants

The same applies to shelves as well. Of course, you can’t just place every single item on the shelves. However, there are tips to follow to achieve an eye-catching result and not clash and fight with the rest of the home decor. You might feel you don’t know where and how to place your small vignettes on the bookcase or a top shelf. Worry no more! We can help you learn how to decorate shelves like an expert!

Take everything off the shelves

Before starting shelf and bookshelf decorating, you need to remove everything off the shelves to create a blank canvas. It’s much easier to imagine how you want your shelves to look when they’re empty of any decorative objects. In addition, it’s much easier to decide which things to use, where and how to place them, and which colour scheme to use when you look at empty shelves.

Decide on a colour scheme

Avoid having too many colours or the same colour. Depending on the theme, choose the appropriate 2-3 colours making sure they match your home’s colour palette. Choose the main paint colour for most of your pieces and add some smaller accessories of two more colours.  

Divide your shelves into sections

While decorating your shelves, it would be really helpful to divide them into sections. It’s a rather great trick to separate them into spaces and help you make the shelf decor much easier and more fun. Depending on how many shelves you have, divide them into two ends, a middle, and if you have more than two, a top and bottom

Add texture

Texture makes a cold room cosy and more inviting. The same applies when it comes to styling shelves. Incorporating texture with the decor pieces, you can make a cosy, eye-catching shelf display. For example, you can mix and match shiny and mirrored items on a shelf with wooden ones. You’ll be impressed by the outcome. 

A woman decorating a shelf with a red bag, candles and 2 vases of different sizes

Keep a visual balance

Visual balance means that the room, the wall and the shelves’ design is equally weighted. Having a balanced design makes the room feel comfortable, whilst an unbalanced one feels more chaotic. Visual balance is influenced by the size of the decor pieces, the shelf display and their shape and colour. 

Display books and magazines

Reading in your free time is so relaxing! But what about all these stacks of your favourite books cluttering the space? You can now use it as display pieces for your floating shelves or your built-in hutch in the sitting room.  Use them to add colour, or if you’re looking for both storage solutions and decorating ideas, you can display them as you would in your bookcase, vertically or between bookends.

Add meaningful decor and items you love

Don’t overdo it when filling your shelves with antique family pieces. We don’t want you to throw them away! Instead, choose the most special ones and place them here and there to make them look great and meaningful to your family as well. 

Arrange decorative items in triangles

Group items of different heights and arrange them in triangles. This arrangement will be more pleasing to the eye, and it can excitingly fill the space

Display art and photographs

A top styling tip for decorating your home office, sitting room or even your workspace is to display photographs and art on beautifying shelves but in a more interesting way. Instead of hanging them, you can just lean them. Have some small photos on a long shelf and let them lean against the wall. 

Add greenery

Plants in the house bring nature into the living space and have a positive impact on health. By arranging the plants the right way, you can create unique decor for your living room, dining room and bedroom. Just a few plants can add colour and totally makeover your shelves. Place some succulents or small blooms on open shelving and add colour and smell to your family room.

4 shelves and a drawer used as a shelf decorated with greenery

Add layers

Layering adds dimension and makes your shelving units more interesting. If you notice, all home decor magazines embrace this method to create eye-catching looks. They place items in front of each other, on top of each other or inside each other. 

Don’t fall into the trap to display the pieces in a row because the result will disappoint you. The simplest way to achieve layering is by adding picture frames with art, baskets, trays and other flat objects. Let a flat thing lean against the back of the shelf, and then form your triangle with objects in the front. 

Balance smaller pieces with larger items

Mix and match larger and smaller objects to create layers. Start with a few large leading items, like a photo, and continue with smaller ones. You’ll get a balanced look. Don’t overcrowd the shelf, though. Instead, give them space to help the eye rest as it moves from one to another. 

Use groupings of 3

There’s a theory claiming that arranging items in odd numbers, groups of three, five, seven, makes them look more balanced and appealing to the eye. It’s a great decor idea for coffee tables, bookshelves, open shelves.  

Add tall objects on the ends

Placing taller objects on the ends creates a visual frame on the shelf and makes it look more conscious and complete. However, don’t place tall objects on every end. 

A woman decorating a shelf with greenery and photo frames

Give yourself some time

In every case, walking away from a situation helps see things clearly and find in the end the best solution to the problem. The same goes for DIY decorating shelves. When you don’t know what’s wrong, you don’t know what to do, or you just don’t like your DIY project, don’t push your shelf to make things better because you’ll have the exact opposite results. Instead, just stop watching, thinking and talking about your work for a while. Do something else. Go for a walk, talk to a friend, watch TV. When you return to your project, things will be much more straightforward. 

Take a piece away 

There’s an unwritten rule when it comes to putting on an outfit that says to take a piece of cloth or accessory away when you are dressed. The same goes for decorating shelves. Once you have finished your project, step back and look at your work. Then, try to remove an item. 

You can also take a picture of your shelves. You may see more things that need to be changed.

A shelf decorated with a framed picture, a wreath, and flowers

We hope that our tips will help you decorate your shelves like an expert. You can use these tips as a guideline and adjust them based on your needs and preferences. Then, start moving things around until you find the perfect spot. After a few decorating projects, you’ll be an expert!

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