Two tiered shelf with plant, vases, sculpture, clock, globe

Tips on How to Design and Personalize Your Shelves

So we know you're super busy with life, but there's this exciting new shareworthy decor trend that's causing quite a stir on social media, Shelfies! A shelfie is a picture of a shelf, especially a bookshelf that shows off someone's decor style. Are you ready for some fun?

Vertical shelving works to free up prime real estate like tables and countertops by using empty wall space as storage. Whether a collection of floating wood wall shelves or a built-in aesthetic bookshelf, we have the scoop on how to create the shelfie of your dreams!

Shelf design is a creative way to display sentimental objects or your favorite decor accent pieces to give your space texture and a personalized vibe. Following the proven styling concepts below will take the heavy mental lifting out of the planning and execution. You are not alone!

The Plan

Before you begin the layout for a picture-perfect shelfie, think about your own style and the spectrum of color in your home. Do you prefer flamboyant, colorful accent pieces or modern minimalist decor in a neutral palette? Try to match your shelf design and layout with your current decor style in the room. For example, your dining room shelf design may show off a pitcher from your family's heirloom china set or your favorite barware set in colors that compliment the chairs. 

Perform a treasure hunt in your home to search for items you love and cherish to be a part of your shelf layout. Choose a nice balance of materials, like wood, metal, or canvas, in one or two complementary colors with a single foundation color. 

It's more sustainable and intimate to use unique found items in your home, but should you need to shop for a few things to fill in the gaps, here is a list of suggested objects of interest:

  • Baskets - The weaving of bamboo or wicker gives texture.
  • Books - Stacked horizontally or lined up vertically for dimension. 
  • Sculptures - Tabletop small to medium metal or wood sculptures work well as accents.  
  • Family Heirlooms - If you are lucky enough to have objects passed down through generations, then anything goes.
  • Boxes - Add a few decorative boxes in various shapes. 
  • Clocks - Timepieces add an element of elegance.
  • Candle Holders - Search for candle holders in different shapes and sizes for layering. 
  • Vases - We love blown glass, ceramic, or metal vases in varying heights and shapes. 
  • Frames/Wall Art - Find a few hand-painted small to medium framed canvas prints with a floral or abstract subject matter. 
  • Plants - You can always count on nature to deliver something unique. 
Odds Are Better
Odds are Better

The rule of 3 is not a nightmare equation from your days in trigonometry class but a well-known styling practice used to draw visual balance. Interestingly, our eyes prefer viewing things in odd-numbered arrangements. Keep this in mind when selecting your final array of objects. 

Build on the basic rule of 3 by scaling up to 5, 7, or any odd number for a more expansive wall of shelves. The most crucial thread to the shelf style building is balance. 

Create a cluster of one or two items on either side of a third or fifth, and boom, you've got symmetry! Don't treat your shelf like a holiday turkey stuffed with too many objects onto one shelf. You want to layer, not pack your shelves.

Create a Triangle

Create a Triangle

Another design rule to get you through complicated DIY styling projects is The Triangle Method. Take three staple pieces and place them on your shelves in a triangle shape. 

Your eye should catch the piece placed on the top shelf, follow the line to the angle down to the piece on the next shelf to a third piece, completing the shape of a triangle. You can fold in accent pieces to the spaces around the triangle following complementing colors, textures, shapes, and sizes. 

Different Sizes and Shapes

Different Sizes and Shapes

Placing three objects of the same height next to each other does not work aesthetically. Each accessory needs to stand out. Try changing out two items with pieces of varying sizes and shapes. 

Overly structured uniformity in shape and size is stifling and feels unbalanced. The shape and size mix should organically flow like a gentle wave, not a tsunami. Keep your eye out for the invisible triangle as your guide. 

Your shelf aesthetic should reflect your personality and creative viewpoint if you're taking time out of your already active life for this project. You'll see how planning and applying a couple of rules will prompt your guests to exclaim WOW with a positive inflection, not WOW in dismay! 

Go easy on yourself. Realistically, you're not going to get the perfect combo on the first try. Trust your eye and ask for opinions. Have a blast, including your friends and family, in the fun exercise of mixing and matching decor accessories. Now you're ready to snap the perfect shelfie! 

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