Most of us have at least a few open shelves in our homes. I think we’d all love to have more of them especially when we see those beautifully styled ones on pinterest. But we also tend to resist them (at least I do) because it’s so easy for them to become a place where stuff just piles up and up and up. Open shelves quickly become stuffed with things that don’t belong there and can end up looking like a cluttered mess!
Today’s little decor idea for big impact is all about decorating open shelves so that they look organised, curated and styled. The result will be shelves that give you practical and accessible storage and look beautiful too. Whether you have one open shelf or a large wall to wall bookshelf in your living room, getting these shelves organised will make a huge difference to your room.
Before I get in to the tips for decorating open shelves, remember open shelves aren’t just for books. While that may be the reason you got them in the first place, mixing up books with other stuff is what will make your shelves look more interesting and visually appealing.
Here are some tips to get those open shelves looking like a styled feature in your living space:
You knew I’d start here, didn’t you? You don’t want to begin anything with clutter because that causes overwhelm. And styling your open shelves is a fun, creative task so don’t let the clutter take the joy out of it. Take everything off, clean and start with empty shelves. Be prepared to get rid of some things and also be prepared to find a new home for stuff that doesn’t belong on your shelves.
Leave space empty
Leave some empty space in between things. This is especially important if you have a fair bit of stuff to store on your shelves. The added bonus is that your beautiful pieces get to be seen and there is breathing space around.
Create clusters not clutter
If you’ve got a fair bit of stuff that you need to store on your open shelves, bunch stuff together to create clusters. In the picture above, the shelves are pretty full but everything is organised in clusters and there’s still some empty space in between stuff. All this adds up to the shelves working hard as a storage unit but yet they look organised, styled and curated.
Pick a colour scheme
Use your room decor colours as your guide and pick a loose colour scheme for your shelves. Personally I find 1-2 main colours and 1-2 accent colours work best. However this is a very personal choice. But having an idea of colour scheme will help everything on your shelves come together and look effortlessly stylish. If you do have a lot of colourful stuff then bunch stuff together by colour to create a more visually appealing look.
Add some texture
I’m always talking about adding texture to all your rooms but texture on open shelves is just as important and it’s easy to do. Add a plant or two, add some seagrass baskets or a rattan box. Display books with different textured covers like leather or linen. Add some ceramics and/or some metal or glass. Any of these kinds of materials will add texture so pick a few that you already have and go for it.
Hide it away
With open shelves there is no hiding place because everything is on display. But we often need to store practical stuff like remote controls, chargers and other bits and pieces that aren’t aesthetically pleasing. The answer is to get some stylish storage boxes, baskets and trays.
Mix it up
Too many little things dotted around your shelves will create a look of clutter. Too many big things will make your shelves look heavy. Mix it up with big and little things as well as things at different heights. Place your books horizontally as well as vertically. Add a plant on top of a pile of books. Use candlesticks as bookends. Create clusters of objects. Basically mix it up. Placing everything too symmetrically will look boring.
While decorating your open shelves, stand back every now and again to take a look at your shelves. If things aren’t looking quite right, move things around and re-access until you’re happy.
Add some art
This is often overlooked but it can make the perfect finishing touch to your newly styled shelves. If your shelving is low, I love the idea of hanging a piece of art just above the top shelf or even leaning on the top shelf. If your shelving is high, lean some art under it. And if it goes from ceiling to floor, then consider placing a piece of art on one of the eye level shelves. Art breaks up monotony and creates a focal point.
These tips that will help you curate open shelves that look effortlessly stylish. And this little task will change the look of your room for the better, in just a couple of hours. Most important of all, remember to have fun when decorating your open shelves as ultimately that’s what it’s all about.