Styling shelves can be a daunting task to get just right. I know. In my living room I have some beautiful, classic built-ins (I live in a century home); but styling them has always been a challenge. Thankfully, my friend Holly was up to the challenge! Holly Young is an Ontario based artist with a love for home décor and anything mid-century modern. Trained in fine art and interior design, Holly's home has been featured on Apartment Therapy and her work was recently featured on Little Green Notebook. We have a lot in common when it comes to home style, but Holly has a way of making it come together effortlessly. She's going to take it from here with her tips on how to style your shelves. Enjoy!
5 Tips for Styling Your Shelves by Holly Young
When Lesley asked me to share a few shelf styling tips with you I was on board. We have built-ins in our living room and they really pull the entire space together. You may require help from a friend or expert, but when you get it right you will just know. I kept ours the same for three years! That is an eternity in the world of design. If you don’t do anything too trendy, they will look great until you decide to change them again.
1 - Declutter
One of the simplest ways to freshen up your shelves is to declutter. Go through your items and edit, keeping only things that are meaningful and complementary to your style. Switching things up from room to room is an inexpensive way to get a new look without breaking the bank. I was able to see the potential from all of Lesley’s accessories and collectibles as soon as I entered her home.
2 - Group Things
Re-arranging items and grouping similar pieces together will make all the difference. The hardest part is finding the time to take everything off of the shelves and dusting it. Lesley’s aesthetic is modern and classic. Lots of neutrals mixed her favourite graphic combo of black and white. Most of the colourful accents used here are sentimental souvenirs and travel photos. A few family portraits are mixed in and add just the right amount of personality.
Grouping items in threes is so simple and effective. I did this with Lesley's vases and other items. Varying the height of pottery, plants and photos helps your eye travel around and not focus on one element. Movement gives a sense of flow and balance.
3 - ADD GREENERY
My favourite décor item is a plant. Thankfully, Lesley had so many beautiful pots and plants to choose from. The more variety you have in your pots and plants, the better. Variation of size, shape, colour and height of plants will add visual interest. Plus, plants are a healthy choice for your home. They help you feel at peace and they purify the air in your space.
4 - LOOK WELL READ
Before I started styling Lesley's shelves I asked her if she had more books. The bottom cupboards were filled with them. They just needed a place to shine. I chose a few that had a similar colour palette and took off the book jackets to reveal the typography and colours.
When you are placing your books, mix it up. Stack three on one shelf and stand a few on another. This will add height so everything is not linear. Mix it up with horizontal and vertical groupings. Use things in different ways. Instead of having the woven bowl Lesley bought in Panama stand up, I simply put it on a low shelf (on top of books) so the pattern could be seen at eye level. I also moved a little black chair and made it a book end.
5 - GIVE IT TIME
If you have just moved into your home it may take you a few months to collect and curate items to use when styling your shelves. I am a big fan of mixing vintage finds with store bought accessories. Some of my favourite things in my home cost only a few dollars at a secondhand shop. As you are drawn to and collect items, you'll see what your true style is.
I used almost everything Lesley had in her shelves. I added more greenery, books and switched up some white pottery with darker tones so they would pop against the white back drop. They were simple, but impactful changes that complemented Lesley's style and highlighted meaningful pieces in her home. Happy styling!