Shelf Styling 101: Easy Hacks You Need to Know for Beautiful Shelves

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(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Posts on Robyn’s French Nest may contain affiliate links. You can see our full disclosure details here.)

Shelf styling can feel tricky sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be!  Check out these easy tips and tricks to create beautiful shelves in your own home.

Is there any area or spot in your home that always feels tricky to decorate and style?  I love asking this question for two reasons.

  1. I genuinely love to know and see how I can maybe help out a bit!
  2. It is always interesting to see how many of those “tricky spots” are the same for so many people!

Every time I ask about this, one of the most popular styling requests I get is for shelf styling.  To be honest, I have tricky spots in my home too…including shelves!  However, in all of my experimenting, I’ve figured out a few go-to styling hacks that always help me out.

Maybe these shelf styling tips can help you a little too, or, if you’ve got shelf styling all figured out, just give a fresh little idea to try!

Shelf Styling 101: Easy Hacks You Need to Know for Beautiful Shelves

Shelf Styling Hack #1: Balance Texture, Color, and Style

I think this tip is maybe the most important one of all.  Moreover, it sets the stage for all of the other shelf styling hacks I have!  When considering your shelf styling, I suggest choosing 3 elements.  Even if you’re styling a large shelf space, stick to 3 elements.

For example, on these apothecary shelves, I chose elements of white, terra cotta, and wood.

Once you’ve chosen your elements, gather everything you think you might use. I like to spread it all out on my dining room table.  It makes a mess, but at least it is a cohesive, pretty mess!

Tip: If you have elements that do not fit within those 3, don’t worry.  Once your shelf styling is complete, you can go back and add a couple of “extra” items.  For example, I added the head planter and vintage cottage rental sign.

Shelf Styling Hack #2: Start With Just One Shelf

It can feel overwhelming to look at an entire shelving unit and feel like the pieces of shelf styling come together easily.  You’ll already have the big picture in mind by choosing your 3 elements.  After that, though, I can get stuck on where to start.

My simple hack?

Start with just one shelf.

I start my shelf styling by decorating just one shelf and playing around with it until I love it.  Most often, this shelf will include at least a touch of all 3 elements, however, it doesn’t have to.

Next, I find that the other shelves start to take shape once I get that one shelf exactly how I like it. That one shelf creates a guide I can follow….which leads to the next hack!

Shelf Styling Hack #3: Repeat Elements on Another Shelf

The next thing I do is to take that first shelf and re-create it on another shelf.  For this size of a shelving unit, I usually do that 3 times.  

None of the shelves look exactly the same.  However, if you study it closely, you can see the repetition of style, color, and texture on the shelves.  You won’t be literally making the shelves exactly the same, but rather re-creating the overall look.

Tip: When you “re-create” the shelf, try to mix it up a little by using similar items and styling but not making it identical.  This helps you get a curated, designed-over-time look that is perfect for the vintage home!

Shelf Styling Hack #4: Add aTouch of the Unexpected

Once you have styled all of your shelves, repeating the color, texture, and style with your 3 chosen elements, you may find (like I do) that it’s become a tad too predictable.  This fourth step is to go back to my tip on #1 and pull out that item that didn’t fit in your final 3.  Adding a couple of unexpected elements into your shelf styling will break up the pattern and provide character and interest to your shelf styling.

On my dining room shelves, for example, I added the head planter and a vintage sign.  Those become statement pieces since they stand out from the simple backdrop created with my 3 chosen elements of white, terra cotta, and wood.

Tip: To avoid cluttered shelves, stick to the “3 element rule”, but then add just a couple of extra items so that it doesn’t all look the same.  It doesn’t take a lot of extra items to break up the pattern!


Shelf Styling Hack #5: Add Greenery

You knew I was going to say this, didn’t you?!  I don’t think I have shelving in our home that doesn’t have just a touch of greenery.  Whether fresh or faux, greenery breaks up the lines of the decor, softens the edges, and adds some life to your shelf styling vignettes.

Pothos plants are my go-to since they are so hardy and seem to be the ones I can keep alive the best!  In the spring and summer, I usually buy just a few different kinds of baby plants to sprinkle throughout my decor.  

I love the Walmart garden center for really inexpensive baby plants!  Even if they don’t last for years, I can usually enjoy them for the season and they are super budget-friendly!

Tip: I often mix fresh and faux greenery!  It is okay to use both in the same shelf styling.

There you have it!  Shelf styling made easy, or at least what helps me!  Hopefully it will help you, as well, by giving you a starting point.

 Sometimes in decorating, just getting started is the hard part.  I find that once I get started and that creative part of my brain starts rolling, it is all a lot more fun and falls together a lot more easily too!

What are your favorite elements to use in shelf styling?  I’d love to hear in the comments!

I’d love for you to follow me on social media!  You can find my home decor inspiration on Instagram, Pinterestand Facebook!  











(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Posts on Robyn’s French Nest may contain affiliate links. You can see our full disclosure details here.)

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