Shelf Styling 101

shelf-styling-101-feature Shelf Styling 101

It’s no secret that Shelfie Sundays (check my fave hashtag out for yourself) are the best day of the week… well, for me anyway.

Shelves are great for storage, adding height to a room and utilising dead space without blocking off the shape of the room (hello mis-shaped alcoves).

It’s easy to get a little baffled about styling shelves. I for one went through several stages floating between too-cluttered and too-minimal. Today I’ve styled my shelves two different (although similar) ways to try and demonstarte all my tips for getting those Instagram ready and unbearably beautiful (to stare at instead of going to sleep…) #shelfie.

Stick to a grid

I feel like the art of some well-styled shelves – you know, Kate La Vie style – is balance. What’s the best way to find balance? Probably by using a grid.

Creating and sticking to your own grid will depend on the size of your own shelves. My shelves tend to suit a grid of three or four (that’s three or four segments per shelf) depending on what I’m choosing to display.

Without utilising a grid, or at least loosely sticking to it, things can look messy pretty quickly. Keep things simple and start with your base of three or four (or five or six… it really depends how big your shelves are) and then add to it if you feel it necessary – trial and error is king in the shelf-styling palace!

Books are the base

This one took me a while to realise (and definitely isn’t an original thought). Using books to ‘bulk’ out the shelves is great at giving the shelves substance and a proper purpose – not that taking a good Instagram picture isn’t a good purpose… I would never say such a thing.

I like to use clear bookends (I use these Osco ones) and arrange the books in a jumbled order, placing shorter and thinner ones between the more substantial hardbacks – I like how this looks uneven but still organised (I know, I’m full of contradictions). I also like to play around with colour, mixing it up or placing them in an ombre-rainbow order (only to some effect).

Stacking books is also a great way to fill space and display prettier, more coffee-table-esque books. I tend to choose books that I’m currently reading or that I’m likely to reach for and top the stack with smaller books – going from smallest to largest (top to bottom) looks neatest and balances with the rest of the shelves best.

Another thing to try could be facing the spine of the book inwards – displaying the pages of the book. This looks great if you’re going for the sleek and minimal look (keeping the colour scheme beige and white) and also makes up for a lack of pretty books (believe me I’ve been there), makes use of old books lying around or disguises the fact that you don’t really read much or buy new books (again, been there – slowly forcing my way out).

Group anything and everything

The next thing I tend to realise when I’m putting some shelves together is the unreasonable amount of odds and ends I have lying around. Boxes, baskets and jars were made for times like these. Popping a few pens into a spare glass jar, and topping book stack with it, gives different levels as well as being a useful piece of storage. If you’re like me and try to keep spaces clean and minimal, utilising any available storage is vital. Baskets are great for placing larger beauty products and (displayable) toiletries. Boxes are great for odds and ends too!

I love my colourful basket (from England at Home in Brighton) as well as my H&M number – most high street homeware places have baskets on offer now (although most of them are still copper…). My little yellow craft box is cheap-as-chips IKEA – which have a massive range of small, displayable storage. I love their little crates, which you could wood stain or paint any colour you like!

Plant it up

Although I know plants aren’t for everyone, the difference they make to a (perhaps somewhat dull) shelf composition is astounding. Ferns, spider plants, cacti, succulents… all are very easy to maintain (unless you’re a seasoned plant killer like myself) and work great in small to large styled shelves.

Using a denser plant like a dinosaur fern (not correct terminology) amongst sparser shelves adds colour, texture and a different level – keeping that balance in order and keeping things interesting!

I’d love to get into the habit of placing some freshly cut flowers into a jar and incorporating that into my shelves too, but for now all  the (literal) greenery will have to do

Embrace negative space

One of the hardest things to style is a busy shelf. Yes, I’m sure it can be done – but not by me. I love embracing and using plenty of negative space (a fancy way of saying empty space… because I’m super fancy FYI). I like the airiness around smaller items, finding that it helps balance out the bulkier boxes and baskets too.

If I was really going to make a statement, I would almost frame a set of minimal shelves with a bright wall behind, or even a wallpapered wall. Right now I’m sticking to brilliant white, as my shelves have quite a lot of colour in as is.

Make it work for you (literally)

At the end of the day, making your shelves suit you and your lifestyle is the most important step you can take. What’s the point in slaving over a great Instagram pic (we’ve all done it – no shameif you find yourself storing a bunch of things in an inconvenient place? Or you never touch anything on your shelves and they end up gathering dust?

Use the space for storage if that’s what you need a little extra of – jump on those baskets and boxes). Or use it as the only de-cluttered space in the whole room – which means you could use it for picture background for Instagram and blogging etc. All-in-all it’s important to style the shelves in a way that is easy to upkeep and maintain yourself – because otherwise, like with many other things, what’s the point?

As you can see I’ve included a couple of (almost) piece-by-piece shelf compositions (I for one love that I’ve started treating it like art… it sort of is… in a way). I really hope that if my words haven’t shed some light on my way of doing the #shelfie, these slideshow pictures have!

I’d love to know if you’re a shelfie aficionado and your way of doing it! Let me if you’ve found anything I’ve said helpful (I mean, I really hope someone has…) and connect with me with the links below!

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