5 Tips for Styling Your Shelving
Decorating shelving around your home can be a frustrating experience. You fill a shelf or bookcase with books, photos and knickknacks and think you’re finished — but as soon as you step away you realize it doesn’t look nearly as good as you had hoped.
You don’t have to just give up and deal with awkwardly styled shelves, though. There are a few simple guidelines you can follow to ensure your bookcases and open shelves are well-styled and beautiful. With a little bit of practice, you can have magazine-worthy shelving in no time.
1. Group Items in Odd Numbers
When grouping items, stick to odd numbers. This is often called the “Rule of Three” in interior design — when you’re styling objects, three is the magic number of items that looks the most visually pleasing. Of course, this isn’t necessarily a hard and fast rule, but it’s a great guideline to follow if you’re just getting comfortable with styling. Other odd-numbered groupings work as well, though three seems to be the go-to number of items. Odd-numbered groupings almost always look more complete than even-numbered groups.
2. Vary Heights to Add Depth
Play around with the heights of the objects on each shelf. If you have all tall items or all short items, your display won’t be very interesting, but an arrangement with several different heights adds depth. Use a wide variety of items at various heights throughout the shelves to help keep the eye moving through the display and make shelves feel more cohesive. If you need to add some height to a smaller piece, consider adding it on top of a stack of books. It will add some varying textures and heights to the display, which is a win-win.
3. Pick a Color Scheme
Pick a color scheme and stick to it. Just like with any design project, you’ll want to use a cohesive color scheme. Consider the colors in the room and try to choose items that are unified and contribute to the flow of the room, rather than having a big explosion of color. Of course, your books will be varying colors that you may not be able to control, but you can remove dust jackets (the books usually look much nicer without them), or even flip the books around if you really want a cohesive look. Try grouping books by color for a more intentional display, or you can always just keep the decor around the books a neutral color so it doesn’t visually compete with them.
4. Get Creative With Your Books
There’s no rule that says you have to line them all up in-between bookends. Stack some books on their sides, group them by size or color or even create a rainbow with your books. A stack of books laying on their sides can be a great makeshift bookend for a row of books, and it creates a visually interesting display that adds a lot of dimension to your shelves.
5. Leave Some White Space
Finally, be sure to leave plenty of white space on your shelving. It can be really tempting to stuff each shelf full of fun items, but it’s important to have a place for your eye to rest when you’re looking at them. You should leave a little room to breathe on each shelf, and remember that the blank spaces actually help draw attention to the other parts of the display.
Style and Re-Style
While you decorate your shelves using these tips, it’s important to remember that styling involves a lot of trial and error. As you work, be sure to step back and look at your shelves from across the room regularly. What looks great from close-up may look silly once you’re standing a few feet away. You’ll probably want to tweak things a few times before you land on a display you love. Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll find yourself having fun styling and re-styling your shelving.
Once you’ve used these tips for awhile and begin to get more confident in your styling skills, you should feel free to change things up. Design rules are made to be broken, and the bottom line is that if you love the display you create, that’s all that matters.