Are your shelves an amalgamation of overpriced souvenirs from multiple summer holidays, unwanted gifts, half-read books and other bits and bobs and Knick-knacks that you forgot you even owned? Or are your shelves completely bare, embarrassed about their exposed nakedness and need a bit of dressing up? 

The blank canvas of empty shelves can seem overwhelming! That's why we've asked some of our designers for their top tips to share with you.


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Shelf styling tips from the pros

Before we get into shelf styling inspiration, watch this video of four of our designers sharing their biggest shelf styling tips:


Step 1: Clear the canvas and take stock: The first step is to create a blank canvas for yourself. Give your shelves a good dust then the work can begin! Milena: "Take all your items that you want to use, split them into groups, by size, colour and type."

Step 2: Start with larger items: Start with larger items you want to add to your shelves. Position them equally balanced across the shelves to provide the frame work. 


How to style shelves | Shelf with books and house plants

Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Step 3: Layer in a variety of shapes and sizes: Now you can begin to layer in the smaller items across the shelves into the gaps left by the larger items. Rosie: "My top tip is using a lot of different shapes and heights. By layering up smaller shapes with a larger shape, it creates that variety and stops it looking flat."

Step 4: Create contrast:  Ricky: “Mixing up your objects introduces the opportunity for different materials, textures and colours." Contrast is the secret ingredient to any beautiful room design and your shelves are no exception. Contrast can be through using different colours and patterns but it can also be the types of materials you use. For example, sitting a brass ornament next to a white ceramic vase can make each item sing in its own way. If you're still building up your collection of trinkets, plants are a wonderful way to add contrast in colour and texture to a shelf. Books are also wonderful at adding colour to an otherwise plain-looking display.


Industrial style shelves in dining room

Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Step 5: Use odd numbers: Rosie: "Another great tip is using odd numbers, so using either 3, 5 or 7. It’s just more pleasing on the eye as it has to move around.”

Step 6: Personalise your shelves: Think of your shelves as an exhibition of you! They should bring back lovely memories and make you smile whenever you look at them. Lucy: "When styling your shelves, don’t forget to personalise them. So add that family photo, or that little trinket that you’ve collected from your travels.”

Step 7: Disguise the clutter: As well as being beautiful, your shelves will also need to be practical. Try to give those useful bits and bobs that you need regular access to a home, so they don't end up floating on the shelves gathering dust. Ricky: "Baskets, boxes, trays, anything like that, really helps to organise clutter and keeps things organised."


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Floral inspired gallery wall

Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Step 8: Leave space:  So you've hit your groove and you're enjoying adding all your lovely mementoes and trinkets to your shelves? Stop! You can have too much of a good thing and there is a very fine line between 'curated' and 'cluttered'! Milena: "When styling your shelves, it’s really important not to overcrowd them. Use the negative space, so the empty space in between the objects to put more importance to something you really like.”

Step 9: Stand back and edit: Lucy: "Finally, remember to stand back, admire your work and don’t be afraid to go in and edit it if it doesn’t quite look right.

Now it's time to step into our ultimate collection of shelf inspiration... 


Shelf styling idea 1: Play with textures and shapes

Dark and natural shelf styling

Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Using different textures will add interest to your shelves and will be pleasing to the eye (and touch, as long as it's not the cactus!) Hardback books stood up, paperbacks stacked, wire baskets, soft finishing touches, indoor plants and ornaments of irregular shapes will all create the contrast you're looking for.

Work with your levels and make the eye dance around your shelves. Have some taller framed photographs and some landscape artwork. Place an ornament on top of some books and have one standing tall all by itself. Have a play with moving around different sized objects and see what works for you as, after all, you're the one who's going to have to see these shelves the most!


Shelf styling idea 2: Add artwork

Gallery wall shelf with TV

Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

No longer are shelves just for books; artwork, or photographs, add a whole other dimension to your shelving. Combine a framed quote, an abstract art piece and your favourite photograph and your shelves won't just look good, they'll make you feel good too.

Want to create a gallery wall in your home? Check out our one stop guide to creating a gallery wall!


Shelf styling idea 3: Less is more

Half painted wall with fireplace

Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Not an avid reader and minimalism is your thing? Fab, this one is for you. Space out your accessories for a minimal look, giving every item its own place on the shelf. Think quality, not quantity. Think aesthetics. Choose the best-looking books (or the ones that show off your enormous intellect best) and mount them on your super stylish shelves, along with your most eye-catching ornaments and favourite decorative tableware.


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Shelf styling idea 4: More is more

Eclectic style open plan dining room

Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Absolute bookworm and a fan of organised, and good-looking, clutter? Or just want to reign in that chaotic jumble just a tad? Don't worry, we've got your back too. Just like last time, mix it up with some horizontal book stacking, alongside some regular vertical filing. Place your keepsakes and ornaments in front of the books, but space them out so that you can tell they are meant for decoration and not unsolicited mess. Space out taller and smaller items to balance the shelf and play with the levels (see 'All shapes and sizes).


Shelf styling idea 5: Colour coordinate

minimalist green fireplace

Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

If you pick your literature based on their cover colour then you're already winning. However, we understand that, just like us humans, books don't all look the same. If you've got some extra time on your hands (or some extra money in your pocket to delegate the job) you could cover your books so they're in keeping with your carefully chosen colour scheme.

Alternatively, you could create a spectrum of stories by organising your novels by their existing cover colour, slowly going from black to blue to green to yellow and so on, or alternatively, create block groups of colour. It's really up to you, we're just here to advise and you can take it from there. We believe in you.

Still not convinced on what to do colour-wise? How about go for all monochrome accessories for a sleek, stylish and cohesive finish?


Having trouble deciding your colour palette? Why not book a free call?



Shelf styling idea 6: Light it up

eclectic lighting ideas

Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Lights are not only practical (so you can read those books we've been talking so much about), but they are a great decorative accessory in their own right. You could go for an ornamental light or a full sized lamp if the space permits.

Looking for more expert tips on how to light your home? See our blog here.


Shelf styling idea 7: Organise and order

home office ideas for small spaces

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Prefer your thingamajigs hidden away? Get yourself some thingamajig storage. These can come in the form of baskets, magazine files, pots or simply, storage boxes. Again, play with the levels by having some taller racks and some shorter trays to create a contrast, thus adding depth and interest. Result! 


Shelf styling idea 8: Stay balanced

Simple at home office

Image Credit: My Bespoke Room

Just like your diet, your shelves need to be balanced. Whether this be with meticulous symmetry (get your protractors out, mathematicians) or having one large item across from two smaller pieces in a more eclectic fashion, it makes the finish of your styled shelves look cleaner. Are your shelves at a tipping point? It might be time to rebalance.


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