How to “do up” your shelf:

Shelves are one of the most utilitarian things in our home.  Basically they are built to hold stuff.  Most of the time shelves are hidden behind cabinet doors, but when they aren’t, why not make them shine.

When it comes to decorating your shelf, you want it to be visually pleasing to the eye. Simplicity is key! There are a couple ways to achieve this.

1. Groupings Go Up & Down

For example, if you have a grouping of three make sure the tallest thing is in the middle.


How To “do Up” Your Shelf:

2. Leaning Pictures

Pictures don’t have to stand upright or hang! Leaning photos relax the space and make it casual.


3. Layers 

Remember it’s ok if the full item  is not in view. Layers create dimension and the illusion of more space.

4. Match Colors

Pick a color scheme! Too many colors can become distracting and take away from the different pieces you have selected.


How To “do Up” Your Shelf:

5. Mirror

If there are two shelves, mirror the objects that are on each.

They don’t necessarily have to match exactly but use similar objects, colors and ideas to make it all come together.


Now that we have established some base rules for decorating, the question that remains is:

What should you put on your shelf?

A lot of people think that when decorating they have to go out and buy a million different pieces, when in reality most of the stuff you can use is already in your home! Before you go out and buy, buy, buy, look around your house and see what you have. You’d be surprised.


Sometimes it can be hard to decide what should go on your shelf. Below I will list some of my “go-to” items that I like to use.

A. Books

These don’t have to fill the shelf! Try stacking three on top of each other, or having some flat and some standing for contrast and variety.

B. Plants/ Flowers

These bring a room to life! Don’t just stick to vases.  Try putting the plants or flowers in pots, bowls, baskets, or even pitchers.

C. Pots

Use different kinds for variety. Old and weathered pots vs. glossy and finished pots.

D. Vases

Different shapes and sizes add lots of contrast for the eye. Try sticking to the same color palette so it doesn’t get too overwhelming.

E. Photos/ Artwork

  Framed photos are great for any shelf!   Artwork can add a splash of color if your other items are more neutral tones.

F. Statues/ Figurines

These add character! Start with these first on the shelf if they are larger and then go off the space that they take up for your other items.

G. Large Items 

One simple, large item by itself on the shelf can be a bold statement. It is visually pleasing to the eye and makes the display less busy while taking up the space of one entire shelf.


Other tips to consider:


  • Use the items you love first, and build around that so you don’t end up leaving them out. You want to love what you have created!
  • Stick to a color palette.
  • Simplicity is key. If the shelves start to feel overwhelmed, take a few things away and see how you feel.

Still need more help?

(For video assistance go to our Instagram @deniseaubreydesign and watch our “styling” highlight)


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