Styling Open Shelving
Updated: Jan 17
If you are throwing a hodge podge of antiques, frames and random things you think are convenient to have on a shelf, hoping it will look good, you're doing it wrong. Open shelving has a rhyme and reason and today I'm, sharing a few things I have learned to make them look well curated and organized.
How I choose my items on the shelf
Find items around you home that you love or things that you use daily that could serve as decor but also be functional. I like using my dinner plates, bowls, a pitcher I love and some of my favorite ceramic pieces on the shelf. These are items that I cherish but also use often.
1. Gather all of the items you want to put on the shelf and place them in one spot
by your shelves so you know exactly what you have and you can mix and match easily. Things you may want to put on the shelves are vases, books, plates, beautiful ceramics, plants or flowers, candles, art work, bowls, trays, or trinkets that still serve a purpose. If you are styling a large book shelf, I would use all of the items listed.
2. Place the larger items first
Large vases, trays and bowls should go first because they take up the most surface space on the shelves. This will be the easiest way to create different focal points and get a feel for what smaller items will fit beside the larger ones.
3. Make Groupings
The easiest way to make an entire shelf look great is by focusing on smaller groupings. I like grouping in 3's but you can easily group in 2, 4, & 6 as well. The main thing to concentrate on when making the groupings is to choose items with varying heights, textures, materials and colors.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind, you don't want to line everything up in one straight line, placing things off center helps to make the space more interesting. Also, you don't want to put two items that are too similar to each other side by side. For example: 2 gold pieces or 2 all white pieces, you wouldn't want to place them side by side. Instead, move them to different shelves or put something in between the two items to break up the monotony.
4. Last Step! Stand back, check the balance and rearrange if needed
Once you have all of the items on the shelf, step back and view it as a whole. You want to check for any empty spaces and any pieces that feel unbalanced (that being two large pieces that are too close to each other or that are lined up straight with each other). Don't be afraid to rearrange several times, heck even take a couple of days to do it. The more I play around with my shelves the more I like them.
Here are some of my favorite designers with their shelves!
Source: Studio McGee
Source: Doreen Corrigan
Source: Kate Marker Interiors
Source: Amber Interior