How to Style Open Shelving

Open shelving, at first, is so exciting! There’s so much storage space and places to put all of the random pieces that you’ve collected over time. While the initial thought of them is a positive one, sometimes the thought of decorating them in a way that is uncluttered and cohesive can be daunting! Fear not, friends, these 5 steps will help you have a little more direction on how to style those fun little spaces.

Step 1: Use Things You love

The very first thing to think about when you begin to gather all of the pieces that you want to use for your shelving is what do you love? Are there decorations, pictures, antique treasures that carry a story to you and your family? What do you want people to learn about you just by looking at your shelving? Let these thoughts be at the forefront of your mind as you’re choosing what to use. In my home, I love using a mix of old and new. These bookends were my great grandfather’s. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I love hearing stories about his wisdom, courage, and influence that he held during his time as a public educator. Some of the antlers that are displayed were found on a walk that Braden and I went on up in the woods that later became the same site that we got married. Most of the books that are displayed were given to me by my mom, who received them from other members of our family. I just love storied pieces, and it brings me great joy to showcase them in our home.

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Step 2: Use a Common Color Palette

Sometimes, shelving décor can become unintentionally cluttered and incoherent when a ton of different colors are being used. To keep this from happening, it’s really important to look around your space that you are decorating in and take note of the color palette that is being used. In this particular space, I used neutral tones as my main color palette. Muted browns, greens, and creams were the main colors in the living room, where this old sugar chest is displayed. Because of this, I chose to use old books, and turned many of them around to show off the antiqued pages. This creates an interesting visual as well as coordinates with the cream in my color palette. Additionally, the pots, vases, and plants I chose were subdued colors that flowed well with the other items.

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Step 3: Mix Horizontal and Vertical

Mixing horizontal and vertical items can create dimension and height to improve the visual aesthetic of your shelving. Books are a wonderful way to incorporate vertical or horizontal items, depending on how you place them. Vases, picture frames, and candles are all great accents that can help you achieve this goal.

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Step 4: Layer

Don’t be afraid to mix, match, and layer! Often times, I like to place larger display platters near the back of the shelf as a foundation, then layer more items in front. Also, if layering books horizontally, place plants, candles, or small jars on top of them to add height.

Step 5: Add Greens

This is always something that I feel is important in any room, no matter how large or small. Plants add such an organic feel to any space. On your shelving, place a small pot on top of some of your old books, or if you’re trying to make a statement, use a larger plant that is more of a focal point. You can never go wrong with adding greens!

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I hope you all gained some ideas on how to better style your own spaces! If you need more assistance, have questions or comments, click here to connect with us!

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