The Best 10 Things to Use in Summer Shelf Decorating

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Shelf decorating can feel intimidating!  Check out these 10 favorite things to use in your shelf decorating this summer and year round too! 

Whenever I poll my community for what styling ideas would be helpful, shelf decorating is always a popular request.

I get it!  Staring at an empty bookshelf or even single shelf can feel a little intimidating or even overwhelming sometimes.

So, to help you out and maybe motivate me to refresh my own bookshelves, here are 10 of my favorite kinds of items to use on shelves.  Most of these are thrifted, but I’ve rounded up similar items in case there is something you realize your shelf just can’t live without!😉

Let’s get to decorating!

The Best 10 Things to Use in Summer Shelf Decorating

1. Use vintage books for shelf decorating.

Vintage books are always my go-to for any decorating.  When it comes to decorating shelves, they are a must-have!  I always watch for them at thrift stores and you can also find beautiful ones online.  I love the style of THESE, THESE, and THESE!

Over on this post, I share 5 ways that I use vintage books to decorate around our home!

2. Use seasonal objects for shelf decorating.

I’ve collected several big conch shells while thrifting over the years and they are perfect for summer shelf styling.  Even if you don’t have a coastal style in your decor, there is something about a pretty shell that brings some summer texture and interest to a vignette.

This faux shell has a great look and would be pretty on a large shelf or even on a coffee table!

Throughout the year, you can make quick and easy seasonal transitions to a space simply by swapping out a seasonal item.  For example, a cute pumpkin in the fall, a nutcracker at Christmas, and a bunny in the spring!


3. Vintage clocks are great for shelf decorating!

I’m trying to avoid all corny jokes here…such as…”there’s always time for shelf decorating”. 😂

In all seriousness, however, I love using vintage clocks in my decor.  They are the perfect smaller item to add character and interest to shelf decor too!

I especially love the style of THIS, THIS, and THIS one!

Tip: Try setting a clock on a small stack of vintage books for interest!

4. Decorate a shelf with a cloche and base

If you’ve followed along for very long, you know how much I love using cloches in my decorating.  Even though a shelf may not be able to handle a large vignette, a smaller scaled cloche and base can be perfect for shelf decorating!  THIS set of two is a good price and would add texture, dimension, and character to almost any shelf.  Also keep an eye out at thrift stores!  I’ve found some great cloches there too!

For more ideas on cloche styling, check out this post!

5. Small architectural salvage pieces make great shelf decor!

I absolutely love using architectural salvage in my decor.  Whether it is a big corbel, like this, laid on its side on a longer shelf or mantel, or a small fragment mixed with vintage books for a sweet vignette, salvage pieces can add so much character and texture to shelf decorating!

I also love these pieces and they could be used for a lot of styling ideas besides shelves too!

6. Baskets add texture for summer shelf decorating

Whether you just need some “filler” for summer shelf decor or you need storage and organization (or both!), baskets will do the trick!  I love using them year round, actually, but even more so in the summer when they add that woven texture.  I found this shell-shaped basket at an open-air market and I just love how it looks on my shelves!

Thrift stores are a great place to find baskets and I always take a scan down that aisle!

THIS SET of baskets is super budget-friendly and would be perfect for small storage as well as adding to the overall style of shelves!  I love that they can be used together, separately, and in almost any room of the home!


7. Try decorating a summer shelf with stoneware.

Shelf decorating is a perfect opportunity to display a collection.  I particularly love stoneware because of the variety of sizes, colors, and shapes that you can combine.

Whether you have vintage pieces to display or pick up a vintage-inspired piece like THIS or THIS, stoneware will blend beautifully on summer shelves.  I also love that stoneware transcends styles and mixes just as well with more modern design as it does with cottage or farmhouse styles.

8. Pretty boxes are great for shelf decorating!

Similar to baskets, cute boxes can be a great way to add some storage, organization, and style to a shelf.  I picked up this old seafood tin for $1 at an open-air market! It’s perfect to hold small items and at the same time, I love how the color and patina tie in with my decor.  Boxes are a great thing to watch for when thrifting…and don’t forget about the power of paint!

THIS set of cane and rattan boxes are absolutely gorgeous!  If, however, they are more of an investment than what you’re looking for, I also love this set of of lidded baskets.  Even though they are woven baskets, they have the same shape that gives the look of stacked boxes.  For under $30, I think they are a great buy and would look beautiful for year-round shelf decor!

9. Use planters for shelf decor too!

I keep a variety of pots and vessels in my decor storage and whenever I am styling a shelf, I almost always include at least one kind of planter!  Planters are great items to look for when thrifting.  Harrison and I picked up this fun shell planter for a few dollars awhile back and had fun painting it together!  It went from an ugly brown to a great piece that adds a nice summer touch to my shelves.

A new piece I recently found is THIS pot.  I absolutely LOVE the texture and patina.  It would add so much character to a shelf and again, is a piece that you could decorate with year round.  I also love that it has such a high-end look for a great price!

10. Every shelf needs a plant!

Okay, not every single shelf, but almost every shelving unit/vignette will look great with some greenery!  Depending on your space, you may choose fresh or faux.  I love to use pothos plants for shelves because I love how the vines wind around and soften the straight lines of the shelves.  However, you may just need a little touch of green, like this cute plant!

Regardless of the size or style that works best for your space, make sure to include a little green somewhere!  It really adds a touch of life and texture to home decor and especially to shelf decorating!

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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