Skip to Content

My 5 Secret Tips for Styling Shelves

My 5 Secret Tips for Styling Shelves

Have you ever scrolled through Instagram or flipped though a magazine and wondered how they styled those bookcases or open shelves so perfectly? Well, I don’t profess to be an expert but I have learned a few tips by studying those beautiful photos. So to save you some time, I thought I’d share what I’ve discovered.

Here are my 5 Secret Tips for Styling Shelves and some additional tips along the way.

BEFORE
This primitive cabinets character really shines with a new coat of paint. I decided the leave the inside the original stain. I love the contrast but it makes styling the shelves challenging. Items just disappear inside the cabinet.

Best Secret tip for Styling Shelves

SO LET’S BEGIN WITH TAKING EVERYTHING OUT OF THE CABINET! I WORK MUCH BETTER WITH A CLEAN SLATE! THE FIRST THING I NEED TO DO IS FIND ITEMS THAT WILL NOT DISAPPEAR INSIDE THE CABINET.


Secret no. 1 – Gather similar items together before stying your shelves

I have a limited but growing collection of blue transfer ware.
This piece was a thrift store find that began my hunt.

Collections make such an impression when grouped together. If you spread you collections around the house, they don’t add a lot of impact. I didn’t have enough of the blue transfer ware, so I added a few pieces of ironstone. I knew the white would really pop inside the dark cupboard.

I began styling by placing the larger pieces from my collection on the shelves. Remember to balance the weight of the pieces as you place them. You don’t want all the larger, heavier pieces next to one another.

I also like to use empty picture frames behind smaller pieces to draw attention to them.

Let there be light

SECRET 2 – MIRRORS

I collect a lot of mirrors from thrift stores. I particularly like small mirrors that can be used to layer inside shelves. You can find some of my tips for shopping at Thrift Stores on a previous blog post here.

(Posts on The Ponds Farmhouse may contain affiliate links. You can see the full disclosure details here.)

I added the mirrors to the shelves, placing them behind smaller pieces of ironstone or seasonal decor. I also like to lay some mirrors flat on the shelves and I will top them with some piece of decor or leave them empty.

Inexpensive risers and filler for shelves

SECRET NO. 3 – BOOKS

I also collect old books, but any book will work for this step.

Books are just a natural for styling shelves!. I love old books but if you have any books in your home, gather them and place them on your shelves. If you are not a book person but want to add books to your shelves, thrift stores sell used books really cheap. You can also deconstruct your books by removing the covers. I’ve also painted book covers. It really creates an interesting shelf when all the books are a matching color.

Books just add so many options and you know, they don’t call them bookshelves for nothing! LOL!

I add books with spines facing the back of the cabinet to lighten up the space. Some books I use as risers and I have some deconstructed books that I have tied together with jute rope to add interest.

Layer your shelf decor

Step number 4 is to layer your decor on the shelves.

Layering includes putting mirrors behind seasonal pieces to make them shine. This also includes stacking books and setting decorative decor on the books.

These shelves are small and don’t allow for as much layering as can be done on larger bookshelves. You can use plates, coffee table books, larger mirrors, vases of flowers, candlesticks and much more to create several layers on the shelves. I begin by standing a plate, for example, at the back of the shelf, then I might add a vase or candlesticks in front of the plate. Use larger books, such as coffee table books. I stand them at the back of shelf with the cover facing out. This makes a great backdrop for a clear vase or slim candlesticks. Just be creative with this step.

Here are several examples of layering your shelves. The mini vases are reflected in the mirror layered behind them. They are layered on top of a small white plate, which is layered on top of a vintage book.

Final Secret for Successful Shelf Styling

SECRET NO. 5 – VARY THE HEIGHTS OF YOUR DECOR

This cupboard is very old and the shelve heights are limited. Regardless, you don’t want everything the same height. Use your books, plates and candle sticks to create different heights across the shelves. When you step away from the shelves, you want your eye to travel around the shelves. This is accomplished by having several points of interest. The mirrors help to draw attention to even the smallest of accessories.

Notice how the items within the cupboard really pop now. The bunny is sitting on a mirrored tray and layered with a mirror behind it as well. These reflective elements really add to the shine within the cupboard. All these reflective pieces guarantee the items will not blend in with the shelves.

I hope you enjoyed these 5 Secret Tips for Styling Shelves. Have fun refreshing your shelves this Spring and please let me know if you have any questions!

I really appreciate you for stopping by and your comments are important to me..

XOXO

Rachel

Carol

Tuesday 24th of March 2020

So many wonderful ‘new to me’ ideas! I love the suggestion to use the mirrors and frames behind small objects. That had never occurred to me. Thank you so much!

rahrags@gmail.com

Tuesday 24th of March 2020

Carol, Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I appreciate your comments and I'm so glad you were able to learn a new trick or two. Please come back often. Rachel

Kathy

Thursday 12th of March 2020

Rachel, you are so talented and I love following you! Also thank you for sharing your gift. I am on my husband’s tablet, he is maes dad. My name is Kathy and I am Mae Mae the boxer. I know it seems Kinda weird when I comment when I am on his tablet. He is not into decorating but I am. Anyway thanks again for sharing your beautiful home and projects!

rahrags@gmail.com

Thursday 12th of March 2020

Kathy, thank you for your encouragement and sweet compliments! I appreciate you for stopping by. Rachel