Shelving ideas – how to add personality, style and storage to any room


Shelving ideas, whether used in a bathroom or kitchen for the most part for practicality or in a living room or bedroom when you often have the luxury of being purely decorative, add so much to a space. . Color, texture, pattern, personality, even if they are just for storage, they can still bring all of these things into any room.

But decorating a shelf is actually a trickier task than it first appears. Pinterest boards, entire books, an entire Instagram hashtag has been dedicated to shelf conservation, and there is an art to achieving that effortless look, it all ends right here. So, so you can get it right, we’ve asked the experts for all their best shelving style tips and put together all of our favorite storage ideas to inspire you to make your shelving look the prettiest.

1. Think about the practice first

Colorful kitchen shelf idea

(Image credit: Jon Day)

Because there is a strategy for styling the perfect shelf, and you need to consider how much space you have available before deciding when to display it. Take into account the length of your shelves, the depth, the height in between if you have more than one.

As Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin advises, “Start by deciding what you want to display. Half-empty shelves can often look unfinished or overly stylish, so start by collecting all the items you want to include, making sure you have enough to comfortably fill your shelves. It will also give you the opportunity to determine the width, depth and height of your shelves, and which items will fit where. ‘

2. Decide on a color scheme for your shelves

Book shelves in an open concept dining room

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Once you have a rough idea of ​​what you want to display and where you will display it, color is the next consideration.

“The use of color plays an important role in the overall look and impact of your shelves. It’s worth considering using the color more widely across the entire area rather than small sections. explains André. “For example, organizing an entire shelf based on the color of the spines of books can turn a generic-looking bookcase into a design statement. Alternatively, putting together a collection of one-color items on all of your shelves is just as effective. ‘

Now a color scheme might seem restrictive, but it’s not necessary, if you want to create a truly eclectic look with a rainbow of colors then go for it, but our only advice is to pick a few colors. strong that you can repeat throughout, just to get that cohesion that binds the overall appearance together.

3. Create cohesion between what you display

Sage green kitchen with wooden cabinets

(Image credit: James Merrell)

What will really create cohesion is the connections between what you post. Now these links can be as subtle or as clear as you want, of course the links will also depend on the room. Let’s say in a kitchen, chances are the connection will be really obvious, you will be exhibiting dishes, glassware, or cookbooks. While in a living room, the connection can be made through prints of photographs with random decor dotted in between. It is this connection that will make your shelves more neat and less random.

“The way multiple possessions are organized will make the difference between a calm, organized display and an unruly, distracting clutter,” says stylist Sally Denning in her new book Calm. “No matter what they are, if your belongings are put away thoughtfully, just about anything can look good.”

“Items that fall into the same category always go well together. You could have a collection of vintage ceramic jugs, for example, or it could be stoneware jars, glass vases, or black and white photos. ‘

Take these beautiful kitchen shelves. The collection feels organized as the display is mostly pretty tableware, but not too much, as there are different elements like the wooden cutting boards and the vase of branches that add different textures and shapes among the ceramics.

4. Design shelves that reflect your personality and style

traditional living room with alcove shelves

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Shelving is one of the few areas in your home that is constantly on display, making it a prime spot for all of your favorite rooms. Fill them with photos, decorations, and keepsakes that really mean something to you, collections that have value that don’t just look pretty on a shelf.

“Don’t give up valuable real estate in your home for things that are not special to you and your family – fill it with meaningful things, keepsakes, items collected on vacation, items donated or passed on. by your family. They don’t have to be expensive, but they have to be meaningful. suggests designer Sabrina Albanese.

And if you want to add new pieces to your collection, buy used pieces before buying a new one, for a decoration that will add a lot of character. ‘Collect with intention, look in antique shops or flea markets, flea markets. And make sure you find different shapes, lots of different textures and colors. ‘

5. Create a balance with different heights and shapes

Pink dining room with integrated shelves

(Image credit: Marc van Praag)

While we love a bookcase filled to the brim with vertical spines, it doesn’t have much variation. If you want to create shelves that intrigue and invite you to explore the display, you want variation. Variation in height and variation in shape. The ideal is to look at your shelves and see very few straight lines or repeated shapes but to have a balanced whole.

These pretty living room shelves are the perfect example. There’s a real mix of heights, textures and shapes, and yet the prints that run through give the shelves some structure without looking too organized. And notice how the books sit both vertically and horizontally, it may not seem so natural to lay a stack of books on their side on your shelves, but break the mold and try it, it can add character and character. the oddity.

6. Group in odd numbers

Colorful living room shelf idea

(Image credit: Kristy Noble)

It’s interior design 101, which puts things in threes, but it’s an age-old rule for a reason. And it’s not set in stone that there should only be three objects, it’s more about sticking to odd numbers. According to the “rule of three”, odd numbers are more pleasant and memorable when we see a collection of items in an odd number, it forms less of a simple pattern in our brain and we are forced to look more carefully and consider more. so that we focus the screen longer.

So it makes sense when styling a shelf that you stick to odd numbers. As Sally says, “Grouping objects in threes – pots, paintings, books – in threes is a foolproof stylist trick, but you can experiment with larger collections on open shelves to create a beautifully balanced installation. “

7. Don’t forget to include a negative space

Modern living room with brown leather chairs and wood stove

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

Don’t be tempted to overcrowd your shelves, even if you’re looking for that eclectic vibe, there’s a fine line between eclectic and cluttered. The key to staying on the safe side is negative space. You should always incorporate spaces in your displays, whether between objects or between the tops of shelves, you should be able to see empty spaces.

“When it comes to off-the-shelf displays, the space between your items is just as important as the space itself. Says Pip Rich, editor of Livingetc. “Too many times I’ve crammed all my favorite things in a row and it looks like a mess. Take a step back, remove a few pieces, and notice the shape of the air around your screen. It sounds, well, airy, but this outline that you create is where the magic happens. As a guide, I would suggest a minimum of two inches between each element.

8. Use photo ledges when space is at a premium.

Gray alcove filled with works of art

(Image credit: James Merrell)

When space is at a premium, say in a shallow alcove or when you don’t want your shelves to protrude too much into the room, picture shelves are a great alternative to traditional floating shelves. They are of course designed for prints, but you will often find that they are deep enough to add small decorative items like button vases or books.

To create a display that has intrigue, it’s all about size, again, unless you want a sleek, minimalist look, avoid creating lines with your photos. Everything has to be on a different level – it’s kind of like the rule of three, it gives the eye more to look at and you have to spend time looking at it. You can also add extra texture, color or pattern by layering your frames slightly too, just make sure to leave some of that all-important negative space somewhere along the shelf.

9. Incorporate a shelf above a backsplash

Blue kitchen with marble splashback

(Image credit: Avenir)

A narrow shelf that runs along the top of your backsplash not only looks really neat, but can also be a practical addition to your kitchen, adding kitchen storage space as well as a place to create displays. Kitchens can be such delicate spaces to add real personality as they are such practical spaces by nature, but a shelving unit allows you to bring in pieces that you won’t necessarily find in the kitchen like prints, paintings, paintings, prints, paintings, prints, paintings, prints, paintings, prints, paintings or prints. indoor plants, vases, sculptures, etc.

We love how this shelving unit almost blends into the backsplash, being crafted from the same spectacularly veined marble, it creates such a cohesive look, so doesn’t look too fussy or cluttered, despite the display.

10. Keep it simple

Wooden alcove shelves in neutral living room

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

If you like a clean, minimalist look, you can always style the shelves to fit into a more streamlined aesthetic. To achieve this, “go for a small color palette to maintain a calm vibe, but mix and match different sizes and add texture with vintage or handmade pieces.” Sally Denning explains. “Stack the kitchen or glassware on shelves or match the colors of the spines of books. Less is more as the saying goes, so if you’re not sure then leave it out.

In this neutral living room, the shelves don’t distract from the calming scheme, the mix of blacks, whites, grays and creams fit in perfectly. The color palette may be limited, but you still get all of those lovely textures and shapes from the thoughtful mix of plants, vases, and books.


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