Shelfie 101: A Quick Guide to Decking Out Your Shelves

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Oh, the art of the shelfie…. a pleasure-filled task to some and a daunting chore to others. If you’re one of the latter, I’m here to help you!

Step 1

I like to start with my tallest objects. In this case, the shelving limited me to putting larger items on the top shelf only. I made sure to space these two items apart from one another. Here you can see that I’ve added an African basket and a mid-century inspired planter with a succulent.

Step 2

Once I’ve added all of my height, I like to add greenery! Since I had already added a planted succulent in the first step, I added an air plant in step two. Adding greenery adds life to a space! Also, make sure to spread the plants out. For this shelfie, I chose to put the plants on different shelves, as well as place them on opposing sides of the space for balance.

Steps 3 and 4

From here, I started to incorporate different sizes and shapes. This shelfie stays pretty neutral in color palette. Because I didn't have to worry too much about color, I added my smaller shaped items and fill.

If you have objects that are a pair, I suggest splitting them up like I’ve done below.

I also like to mix metallics in with color and natural materials. Here, I’ve added a brass box that complements the knobs on the white boxes.

Step 5

It’s also okay to pair similar colors and objects. In this next step, I’ve chosen to put two candles of the same hue next to one another. Categorized like this, they can be interesting in pairs or clusters!

Step 6

I finished the design by adding in the smallest items. Depending on the depth of your shelves, you can stack these in front or in back for more depth.

Additional Elements to Consider

A good shelfie doesn’t require all of these items, but these are good pointers to consider when building yours:

Height: Make sure there is a good variation of height in your objects. This keeps the shelfie interesting to the eye.

Natural elements: Add warmth and tone by using natural elements such as wood, greenery, natural stone, etc.

Layer, layer, layer: This can mean materials, color, stacking and grouping. Cluster items together. Stack books and create textures with a variety of materials.

Personal items: Make your shelfie mean something to you! It doesn’t have to look like a catalog ad. Add photos, collections and items with sentimental meaning.

A mix of high and low: Create contrast with new and old, high-end and low-end. I love to mix thrifted décor with store-bought décor. Don’t be afraid to accessorize with vintage and worn items; it adds character!

My last piece of advice I stand behind every time: Make sure to put those functional items away! No one wants to see your hairbrush and toothpaste. Put everyday items in cabinets or drawers. The shelfie is meant to be a statement of art and a place to house unique objects on display.

And voilà, a complete shelfie!

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Abbie Naber is an Interior Designer/Stylist based in San Diego. A self-professed style mutt, her spaces incorporate Mid-Century, Scandinavian, Modern, Eclectic, Bohemian, and Global influences. Abbie's aim is to design unique and approachable spaces for her clients, often incorporating a variety of textures, patterns, and vintage finds. Her inspiration stems from travel, textiles from around the world, and art of all kinds. When not designing, Abbie enjoys trips to the flea market, thrifting and creating one of a kind pillows and blankets from vintage and globally sourced textiles that she sells in her Etsy shop. She lives in the coastal community of Cardiff by the Sea with her husband, her two year old daughter, and their dog, Diego.