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How To Decorate Shelves

Styling a home isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to how to decorate shelves. It can be frustrating and overwhelming to those who don’t have help finding the right combination to make your shelves pop! This article will help give you some much-needed tips and hopefully make decorating your home a little bit easier. 

A white bookshelf that features lots of wooden and brown toned decor.
via house by hoff

If you have a home or an apartment full of shelves and have no idea how to decorate them or fill the space, don’t worry – you are in the right place. I am going to share with you how to design your shelf space beautifully! 

Decorating shelves doesn’t need to be stressful or intimidating. I know at first, when you start to decorate something like bookshelves, you can get overwhelmed with the thought of filling the space.  

Maybe you want to give your shelves a nice homey touch, but you also need to store some things on them. You may start searching around to find ideas to mix and match items, big and small. Also, you may start looking into different types of organizers and color themes and determining if you want to have a modern, farmhouse, or garden style. 

There are so many options, it can be hard to choose, but bookshelves are an important design feature in any home.

Why Should I Decorate My Shelves?

Corner shelving in a home with succulents, books and art prints as decor.
via a beautiful mess

Why is shelf decorating one of the most important aspects of decorating your home? Because accent pieces are one of the first things that guests notice – those little details are what people love to comment on.

When you walk into a house and say, “I love the way you decorated in here,” you are most likely referring to their shelves, countertops, and side table accent pieces. These elements catch your eye the most when you enter a home, and you often want to know how you can create that look as well. 

How To Decorate On A Budget

Whether you have an excessive amount of shelf space or very minimal space, it doesn’t have to be expensive to decorate. You can find items at places like Dollar Tree, resale stores, or even the $1 section in Target. For example, grab some mason jars, pebble rocks, fake flowers and put them together to create a cute floral piece for under $5! 

Look at the clearance aisles in stores like HomeGoods and Tuesday Morning. There is no shame in bargain shopping. In fact, it is encouraged!!

White shelving decorated with differing heights of decor, all in natural tones, with a few faux plants mixed in.
via love grows wild

Shelf Decorating Tips

Be sure to remember these tips when decorating your shelves. Things you want to focus on are color, variety, and space.

Experiment With Color

The color will be important when purchasing the items and re-using decor you already have. When learning how to decorate shelves, the color scheme can help keep a consistent theme across the design.

Display Variety

Using variety when placing each item makes your decor look much more appealing to the eye. You want the focus to fall on the overall look of your decor, rather than the function.

Leave Some Room

Close in excessive space when decorating. However, if you are planning on leaving a generous amount of spacing between each item, make sure this method is used consistently in each section. If you plan on leaving no space in between each item, be consistent with this as well, making it flush with the other shelves. 

How To Decorate Shelves

Let’s use an entertainment center as an example. For instance, you have a built-in entertainment piece in your living room, tons of shelf space, and nothing to fill it with. Or perhaps, when you do fill it, it just doesn’t look right. 

Let’s start from the beginning! Do you have an idea, color scheme, or theme that you want to use for your home? If you don’t yet, I would suggest finding a good color scheme or theme before decorating your shelves. Using Pinterest for ideas is my favorite go-to for anything home decor-related!

First, take everything you have off of the shelves and put them on the floor. We are starting from scratch! If you have an idea already, then let’s get decorating! However, if you need some inspiration, here are some fun ideas for how to decorate your shelves.

1. Books As Shelf Decor

How to decorate shelves with colored-coordinated books stacked together on each shelf.
via at home with ashley

If you are wanting to decorate shelves in your home, but need to stay within a tight budget, vintage books is one of my favorite things to use as home decor. Yes, books may seem like an obvious choice to decorate a bookshelf, however, thrifted books can add cozy charm to your home like nothing else.

Check out my post on how to find and use old books in your home for some inspiration!

2. Beach-Themed Decor 

Beach themed home decor has become a popular interest in the last few years, and not just in vacation homes. There’s no need to place actual seashells on your shelves to create a beach-inspired look. Simply using baby blues, pebble whites, and sandy tones are all the rage.

Beach themed shelf decor with blue as an overall color scheme.
via just a girl and her blog

You can find this type of decor practically anywhere you go. Some ideas for how to decorate shelves with beach style decor would be:

Be sure you use the mix-matched method. Take a few pieces of each item, and mix it with two or three other items. Variety is important and keeping it different for each shelf will help create a smoother look. 

3. Color Coordinated Shelf Decor

Using color to style your bookshelves is pretty self-explanatory – and super easy to create from items found anywhere. When you incorporate a color across an entire shelf design, it really helps bring all the decor pieces together – no matter what items choose!

Using a black and white scheme can really make your home decor pop. If you want to add a little color but not distract from the theme, throw in some greenery like a succulent or small plant.

Modern black and white decor for how to decorate shelves.
via 12th and white

Or, if you’re feeling fancy, add gold accents to the shelving like this DIY Gold Mini Greenhouse. And again, mixing it up with each decor piece will help create a better look for your shelves.

4. DIY Herb Wall

If you are a cooking fanatic, then an indoor herb wall would be a great way to decorate your shelves – that is also functional. This allows you to grow your favorite herbs indoors with minimal space. Be sure to do this on a wall that gets plenty of light.

Decorate your shelves with herbs in small ceramic pots. If you don’t use herbs, consider flowers or succulents for a similar style.

A DIY Herb Wall with small terracotta planters on open shelving.

For this DIY herb wall, buy ceramic pots with the plates at the bottom to catch the water and sediments throughout the day. Once a week, you can clean out the tray to keep your plants healthy and growing! 

5. Baskets For Shelf Decor

Another way to have decor that serves a purpose is by incorporating attractive storage solutions. You can be both practical and aesthetically pleasing when thinking of how to decorate shelves.

If you are needing some organization in your home (and still want your shelf decor looking cute) then decorative baskets and jars are a great solution! Experiment with different designs and styles depending on your storage needs.

A bathroom shelving unit with white towels, a white basket, and natural decor elements.
via driven by decor

6. Seasonal Decor

Holiday items are a super fun way to decorate shelving, because it gives you an excuse to change up your decor throughout the year. There are tons of seasoning decor items available from wall art to ceramics and more.

With fall being one of my absolute favorite times of year, faux white pumpkins are a definite go to when I’m thinking of how to decorate my shelves for the holidays.

White floating shelves with fall themed seasonal decor items like framed art, ceramic houses and white pumpkins.
via little bits of home

7. Layered Artwork

Whether a gallery of family photos, or a collection of inspiring painting, a layered shelf of framed art is a great way to decorate shelves. You can get creative and mix and match the frame styles, colors and sizes, or keep them all the same for a streamlined effect.

Amazon has some great framed art to get your started with this layered look!

A long narrow wall shelf with framed art layered across it.

8. Using Lighting As Shelf Decor

Often something not considered, lighting can be a very useful way to decorate the shelves in your homes. You can add mounted light fixtures above shelving if you are a bit handy, or, a simple lamp on a shelf has a great affect.

Check second hand shops for cool lighting or simply find a new lamp that you love.

A brightly lit living area with upper and lower shelves, displaying unit decor items and small plants.
via emmerson and fifteenth

I hope this article helped you gain a little confidence in how to decorate your shelves. This is one of the fun things we are able to enjoy when living in our own space. When you decorate just the way you want, you get that sense of relaxation and calmness, right? I know I do! There is no better feeling.

Let me know what style you went with for your shelves after reading these simple tips and tricks for decorating your home.

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Tania Griffis is an accomplished writer, blogger, and interior designer with a Journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. She started her popular blog, Run to Radiance, in 2011, demonstrating her design expertise through the personal remodeling of six houses to millions of readers across the globe.

Tania also owns The Creative Wheelhouse, a respected ghostwriting agency for bloggers, further showcasing her talent for creating engaging and informative content.

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