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  • Writer's pictureAnn S

Best Kept Secret to Stylizing Shelves

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Welcome to my blog! I hope the "Best Kept Secrets of Design" will encourage you to continue to reinvent your space, answer your design questions, or simply inspire you.

By Ann Schamberger

Create Visual Interest with Varying Heights

“What are your thoughts about the image above?" You may have noticed that each of the items on the shelves and countertop are of the same stature. The result? A flat, uninteresting backdrop to a very white kitchen. To avoid creating this uninspiring look in your own home try this instead; pull together all the items you may want to display or would like to have easy access to. Line them up and evaluate the heights, scale, and quantity. Now start arranging the items. Avoid placing all the same size and scale next to each other. Have fun with the process! You can always move them around until you are satisfied with the outcome.

**The kitchen in the above photo could improve greatly by placing two tall glass containers next to each other. Adding coffee beans in one container and tea packets in the other makes the containers useful and interesting. Coffee cups displayed next to the containers would be a common sense solution to accessorizing the shelves. Not only would the mugs be readily available for use, they are the right size to compliment the coffee and tea jars.

Place Books at Different Angles

What is a bookshelf without any books? Books come in all shapes and sizes. Adding them into your design is an easy remedy to spruce up the any room. Start by always placing the spine facing out. By placing the spine out you are providing a clean look to the overall bookcase. Second, arrange books from the tallest to the shortest. This helps provide an organized look to any array of books. Third, and most importantly, place a group of books horizontal on the shelf. Changing a section of books from vertical to horizontal not only adds interest to the space but allows extra head room to place an accessory on top of the stack.

Color is Key

Do you like to live in a soothing neutral palette, yet yearn for a bit of color in your home? Adding colorful accessories to your shelves will provide an easy, cost effective solution. A few favorites that work well to incorporate onto shelving are colorful glass vases, faux floral arrangement, sculptures, and decorative boxes. Marshall's, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, and Tuesday Morning provide an endless supply of affordable options.

**Purchase several accessories at a time. Test them out on your shelving. What doesn't work, return.

Keep Picture Frames to a Minimal

Displaying family photos is a great way to help keep memories alive and loved ones close in thought. Yet too much of a good thing becomes not such a good thing. Ever experience walking into a home and being greeted with an onslaught of frames? Visually, it is is overwhelming. Avoid this mistake. Instead select 3-5 of your favorite framed photos (always an odd number) and display in a group on an entry table or scattered throughout a bookcase.

**For a designer look select all frames of the same finish or color.

Now that you have the tools you need to start the process of reinventing your bookcase and shelves . . . a trip to the store for accessories may be in order! :)


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