How to Style Your Shelves Like an Expert

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Hey there, its Sara from Twelve On Main.  I am back today with one of my most favorite subjects:  Styling Shelves.

Styling any kind of shelf can be a daunting task.  Did I add too much?  Is there not enough?  Does everything coordinate and make sense?

It can be common to over style shelves as well as under style them.  I’m here today to give you a few tips on how I style my shelves like an expert.

Before I start styling my shelves, I think about what I want them to look like when I am finished.

  • Are there certain colors I want to maintain?
  • Do I have any collections I want to feature?
  • Do I want to add baskets for organization?

Recently I remodeled my master bedroom and we installed a large section of built in shelving, as well as 2 window seats.  I was quite overwhelmed with the idea that I had to style all these shelves.

So I answered a few of my questions.  Yes, I wanted to keep the colors neutral with whites, tans, beige, as well as black and navy.

I wanted to add my collection of salvaged antique pieces that I had collected over the years.  I also wanted to add books (obviously) and I collected books that I had that consisted of those colors.

I also had a collection of white pottery that I wanted to use.

So, as a general rule of thumb, I like to gather up all those things I want to include in my shelving and set it all out together on the floor.  I separate it into categories of books, baskets and wooden boxes, greenery/plants, and small knickknacks or fillers.

I start styling my bookshelves by adding books first.  I don’t fill the shelves of books, rather, add 2 or 3 to one shelf, either standing up or stacked laying on their sides.  If I have, say 10 shelves to fill, I will use books in approximately half of them.

I then add larger pieces, such as baskets, crates, and antique pieces to the other shelves.

The next step is to take stock of which shelves need more filler.  I add small knickknacks, greenery, pottery and other small décor items alternately, moving them around until there is a balance.

The key is to not overfill the shelves.  You want to style them and have them look complete.  Some of my shelves only contain one item, since it is a large item.  I will arrange them next to a shelf with something opposite, like books and greenery.

For more styling ideas: How to Shop Your Home | How To Use Color In Your Space This Spring

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Sara is the founder and creative force behind the blog Twelve On Main, where her main goal is to inspire others to DIY for themselves. She is inspired by her 4 children and the simple farmhouse lifestyle they have created in the quaint town in the mountains of Southern Utah. She started her blog only 1 year ago, and has had an incredible following thus far in her career. In addition to raising her children with her husband, she works with him in their family business, and in her free time, can most often be found working on a new project or creating beautiful spaces for herself or others.