Countless homeowners struggle with the design of their shelving. If you also need some help arranging your possessions properly, or if you’re at a loss in regards to what you should display, I am here to help. I will not be instructing you on how to achieve a beautifully arranged cookie cutter design full of brand new items, but to design with what you already have. My first words of advice: Don’t design to design. Your home and its contents should be a refection of you, a sanctuary for you to work, rest, feel inspired and display your passions and interests. You should never feel as if you’re living in a model home full of someone else’s great ideas or belongings. One last piece of advice before I get to the tips: Take it slow. If being surrounded by beautiful things is your desire, and you’re in the market to purchase new items, do it slowly… have some fun. Take a road trip, do some antiquing, find items that are truly right for your space instead of purchasing something you will get bored with in a few years from Pier One Imports.
If you have collections… awesome… they can all be displayed together, but breaking up the monotony is a must. Add some visual interest to your collection of Mickey Mouse figurines by adding beautiful books, plates, artwork etc..
Looking at a sea of items that are all the same height on your bookshelf will be far from visually appealing. Vary the heights of your items. For example: If your shelf is 16 inches height, you can fill the space with something almost just as tall and on the same shelf have an item displayed that is nearly as small as a penny.
Don’t forget that your shelving has depth. If all your items are pushed to the back… yuck… what a hideous arrangement. Remember books can be stacked sideways too. I often place horizontal books in front of vertical books with little tchotchkes stacked on top.
Mix it up, variety is the spice of life, for your eyes too! Remember there are all types of materials your items can me made from yarn, glass, metal, wood, fabric, felt, plastic, paper etc..
There is no tip more important than balance. Balance is everything in design. The visual weight of an item even on a shelf can close a room off, or cause a wonky topsy-turvy effect. Here are some of my “nevers.”
- Never put the tallest, bulkiest item at the end of a shelf that is in the walkway of a doorway, you will feel as if you’re walking into a wall when you enter.
- If you’re decorating floating shelves, make sure the items are large enough for the wall space above the shelf. Never place items that are too small on floating shelves, they will appear to be floating into the abyss.
- Never place very tiny items on the highest shelves, you won’t see them.
- Never let the bindings of books get misaligned with the spine of another book, use a ruler for placement.
Placing like items together can elevate your design, but caution, it’s also the easiest way to mess everything up. “Matchy-matchy” never looks appealing. It is true you can achieve greatness with a themed shelf, the easiest way is with a color story. For example, if you had white vases theme, on a white shelf, maybe with a pop of color, well that is taking it up a notch… it would be stunning. My advice when “grouping”… group loosely. Figurine grouping or items that are too alike are almost never good. Group pieces such as pottery, vases, a color etc.. Reference collection tips again.
Clean your shelves. There is nothing worse than a beautiful arrangement thats gone through a dust storm. My best advice: If you’re not going to clean it, don’t do it.