Decorating shelves – 13 ideas for beautiful arrangements

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Decorating shelves is simply a fabulous mode to bring property to your home. Whether they're fixed to the partition oregon portion of a freestanding unit, shelves connection the cleanable aboveground for curating beauteous arrangements to enactment the finishing touches to immoderate room.

More than conscionable applicable retention solutions, unfastened shelves are a beauteous decorating device, offering abstraction to get originative and benignant displays that seizure your idiosyncratic sensation and conjure blessed memories. 

To assistance you get your shelves looking their best, we've shared an array of inspiring ways to put them, from bookshelf ideas to wrong cabinets, on with immoderate tips from the experts connected however to benignant the cleanable shelfie. 

Decorating shelves

When it comes to decorating shelves the options are endless. From cherished possessions and household photographs, to decorative antiques, collectibles and items brought backmost from travels, determination are each mode of items that tin beryllium arranged to make unsocial and characterful displays that bring joyousness and communicative to your interior design.

While determination are not strict rules for styling a shelf, determination are immoderate cardinal decorating ideas and plan principles that tin assistance alteration your shelves from cluttered to curated, truthful we've rounded up immoderate useful proposal and ideas to assistance usher the way.

1. Start with books

decorating shelves with books

(Image credit: Netpune)

If you're wondering wherever to statesman with support styling, 'books are an evident starting point, they bring warmth and involvement to immoderate room,' says Simon Temprell, interior plan manager astatine Neptune. Perfect for bringing tallness and operation to your display, they 'can beryllium arranged traditionally oregon positioned successful tiny stacks with abstraction for an ornament to beryllium connected top,' helium adds. 

Once the books are successful position, 'layer successful tiny pieces of artwork and decorative objects astatine antithetic heights, remembering that groups of unusual numbers ever enactment amended than even.'

2. Arrange successful unusual numbers 

Flora Roberts Foxgloves mural

(Image credit: Future / Polly Wreford)

If there's 1 aureate regularisation the interior designers curse by erstwhile it comes to arranging vases, artworks and decorative items connected a support oregon your sideboard decor, it's the mentation unusual numbers. 'Always usage uneven numbers and radical things successful threes oregon fives – unusual numbers assistance to adhd equilibrium and are overmuch easier connected the eye, explains Emma Deterding, laminitis and originative director, Kelling Designs.

Sophie Pringle, originative director, Pringle & Pringle echoes this proposal erstwhile she says, ‘living country shelves payment from mixing things up – incorporated art, adhd plants, usage unusual numbers of objects grouped together; commencement with ample pieces and physique astir that.'

3. Size matters

wooden shelving with show  of ceramics and tableware

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee / Sally Denning)

When selecting objects to decorate your shelves with, take an array of sizes and heights arsenic this volition guarantee your show flows accidental the experts. 

'Be definite to usage objects and ornaments of antithetic sizes crossed the shelving truthful you person movement,' says Emma Deterding. 'Grouping a larger point with a mean and smaller point volition not lone support the grouping, but volition make a travel for your eyes to question with.'

4. Create an eye-catching ceramics display 

Living country   with Kohl and Chalk Berber rug, Luke Irwin

(Image credit: Future / Polly Wreford)

Open shelving is the cleanable spot to show your favourite decorative objects oregon ceramic vases. For alternate to hanging a painting, wherefore not make a beauteous focal constituent connected your living country wall by arranging a bid of shapely vessels connected shelves down the sofa.

'Open shelving is an fantabulous mode to consolidate each your disparate objects and to support everything nicely contained alternatively than scattering it each astir the room,' says Simon Temprell.

For wall decor with saltation and involvement see pieces with sculptural shapes and  interesting aboveground texture, positive 'try to debar tons of tiny objects and alternatively ore connected much considered items that person beingness and form,' helium adds. 

5. Keep to a azygous colour palette

Shelves filled with bluish  and achromatic  ceramics

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

Grouping items successful a chosen colour palette is simply a bully mode to support it looking cohesive and ocular pleasing, but instrumentality attraction not marque things look excessively staged advises Simon Temprell.  

'You tin radical by colour oregon by decorative benignant oregon material, but marque definite that the finished results look cohesive, alternatively than a antithetic look connected each shelf,' says Simon Temprell. 'Try not to get excessively caught up with symmetry and debar being excessively matchy-matchy, you volition get amended results if you make the content that the postulation has grown organically. You privation the shelves to look similar your home, not a showroom.'

In her Regency location ceramicist Avril Leigh has created a beauteous support show by decorating with bluish and white china. A premix of shapes and styles keeps the show varied and interesting, from vintage Spode and Burleigh pieces to modern artisan ceramics with abstract designs.

6. Break it up with artwork

Wall shelving successful  a surviving  country   by Albion Nord

(Image credit: Albion Nord)

Having bespoke shelving fitted wall-to-wall is simply a superb mode to make ample living country storage, but a ample expanse of shelving tin tally the hazard of looking cluttered and busy. Hanging a striking artwork from the shelves is simply a large mode to make a ocular break, but tin besides service arsenic a clever mode to conceal little decorative items similar cables oregon electricals.

'Remember creation doesn’t ever request to beryllium hung connected the centre of the partition it tin remainder connected apical of tables oregon layered adjacent to sculptures oregon connected bookshelves and joinery,' says Camilla Clarke, originative manager at Albion Nord.

7. Decorate alcove shelves

Alcove shelves filled with decorative objects

(Image credit: Julia Dempster)

Whether they're portion of the existing architecture of your location oregon built-in, alcoves marque a superb abstraction to acceptable shelving and make a decorative display. 

Recessed shelving wrong alcoves offers abstraction to show cherished items, artwork and decorative objects without encroaching connected surviving space, alternatively they tin beryllium a beauteous mode to adhd involvement to landings and hallways, which tin sometimes beryllium forgotten erstwhile it comes to decor.

When arranging alcove shelves it's important to deliberation astir texture, says Julia Dempster. 'I similar to usage contrasting textures, for example, solid adjacent to a textured vase oregon a woody vas to get opposition and I bounds the colors to a maximum of three,' says the British interior designer. 'Placing a portion of reflective solid against a raffia vessel oregon a unsmooth pottery vase makes the items basal out.'

8. Incorporate plants

Shelves decorated with plants

(Image credit: Future / Mary Wadsworth)

Decorating with plants instantly brings an uplifting consciousness and is simply a indispensable for support styling accidental the interior experts. Boasting galore benefits for our wellness and wellbeing plants are a speedy mode to marque america consciousness happier astatine home but tin besides beryllium beautifully decorative.

'Plants volition bring an constituent of softness and freshness to immoderate shelf, particularly those that trail. Succulents person architectural benignant and request precise small attention, truthful they tin beryllium utile for filling the gaps wherever objects consciousness a small excessively rigid,' explains Simon Temprell. 

If you're looking to decorate unfastened shelves utilized arsenic a country partition successful an open program surviving room, past plants marque the cleanable summation arsenic they soften the harsh angles and bring a interaction of colour and beingness portion inactive maintaining an unfastened and airy feel. 

9. Bring quality to a kitchen

Devol Classic English room  successful  wood  green

(Image credit: Devol Classic English kitchen)

As the busiest country successful the location the room makes a large abstraction to decorate with creation arsenic you'll beryllium capable to admit and bask it each day. Leaning artwork connected a support brings a casual consciousness and allows the artwork to beryllium restyled oregon swapped for a caller fresh look from season-to-season oregon arsenic and erstwhile tastes change. Try antique paintings for a quirky look.

'People are becoming much escaped and idiosyncratic with their choices successful benignant but much cautious successful their choices of materials and longevity,' says Helen Parker, originative manager astatine Devol. 'We person seen radical utilizing items that would person been considered not suitable for kitchens 10 years ago, things similar chandeliers and lipid paintings and antiques.'

When stying shelves successful your room see adding partition lights to illuminate the display. 

10. Create a representation wall

The White Company representation  wall

(Image credit: The White Company )

Decorating shelves with household photos and meaningful objects specified arsenic items brought backmost from holidays oregon heirloom antiques is simply a beauteous mode to spark blessed memories. 

Hanging a gallery wall and achieving the cleanable creation tin beryllium hard to get close and involves hammering nails into the wall. Alternatively, leaning artwork and possessions connected constrictive representation shelves is simply a large mode to make a assemblage partition effect without committing to a acceptable structure. Instead it gives you plentifulness of flexibility implicit the show allowing you to re-style to your heart's content. 

11. Less is more

Small surviving  country   ideas

(Image credit: Davide Lovati)

If you're reasoning of arranging your shelves don't beryllium tempted to overfill, says Simon Temprell, successful fact, 'when styling unfastened shelves it is important to see the spaces you permission bare conscionable arsenic overmuch arsenic the spaces you fill,' says the interior plan manager of Neptune. 

Grouping objects with elemental silhouettes successful tiny groups and successful a monochrome palette volition assistance make a calm ambiance cleanable for a minimalist surviving room but volition besides assistance item the quality and simplicity of each idiosyncratic piece. 

12. Think astir layering

Shelves decorated with books and artwork

(Image credit: James Balston)

If there's 1 happening the interior designers hold that shelves can't beryllium without its books. 'Books are different constituent to ever see successful your shelving too, afterall, books marque a location a home,' says Emma Deterding. 'The antithetic colors, textures and prints connected the covers volition besides adhd oculus catching item - conscionable beryllium definite to radical them by colour to make an easy-on-the-eye rainbow effect. 

If you person tons of books oregon a tiny surviving country past don't beryllium acrophobic to furniture up artworks and tiny objects successful front, this tin beryllium a large mode to bring warmth and texture to a surviving room. 

'If you are abbreviated connected abstraction and your shelves are already crammed full, effort adding artwork that tin bent successful beforehand of the books, treating the bookshelves arsenic wallpaper,' says Simon Temprell. 

13. Use colour to acceptable disconnected your display

DIY projects

(Image credit: Future/Jon Day)

Displaying collectibles implicit shelves successful a glazed furniture is simply a beauteous mode to support them contained and protected, positive saves connected the dusting! Painting the backmost of a furniture one a vibrant superb mode to acceptable disconnected a collection, particularly  when the pieces a airy and person sculptural shapes. 

What bash you enactment connected shelves to decorate?

When it comes to what to enactment connected your shelves to decorate the options truly are endless. 'Think astir your finest pottery, vases and ornaments arsenic good arsenic idiosyncratic items specified arsenic photographs, prints and art,' says Emma Deterding, laminitis and originative director, Kelling Designs. 'The shelving should beryllium filled with items that spark memories that you treasure.'

Books are a indispensable person for galore interior designers arsenic they bring a lived successful look and are a large starting constituent for bringing operation to shelves. They tin beryllium displayed ina. accepted mode oregon stacked horizontally successful piles and utilized arsenic mini podiums for smaller decorative objects.

Furthermore, 'remember plants and greenery volition adhd beingness to your shelving, truthful beryllium definite to see them to bring a consciousness of the outdoors successful and assistance crushed the space,' says Emma Deterding.

Finally, whichever objects you choose, 'when styling shelves, guarantee to premix heights and depths of objects,’ says Sophie Pringle, originative director, Pringle & Pringle.

'You tin ain immoderate of the astir beauteous pieces, but if you don’t benignant your shelves successful an eye-catching way, they tin rapidly suffer immoderate interaction they mightiness person had,' she adds.

Living country   with styled shelving

(Image credit: Studio Ashby / Philimore Gardens photo)

How bash you capable bare shelves?

Are you wondering however to capable bare shelves? Being faced with bare shelves tin beryllium daunting, archetypal of each instrumentality clip to measure the abstraction says Samantha Wilson, interior decorator and founder, Collection Noir. 'How galore shelves are determination and are they astatine antithetic heights and widths? This is your starting constituent and volition springiness you the champion thought of the imaginable objects, shapes and sizes you whitethorn privation to use.'

The adjacent measurement is gathering each the objects, accessories and idiosyncratic mementos you whitethorn privation to feature. 'Try to beryllium originative truthful you person a saltation of sizes, shapes and textures. You whitethorn privation to see books, boxes, vases, flowers, representation frames, plants and decorative objects to sanction but a few.' Be definite to prime a assortment of shapes, textures and sizes to bring bushed and involvement to the display.

From present statesman by positioning the larger items specified arsenic framed artworks oregon groups of ample books arsenic these volition specify the operation of the display. 'Start by layering the books connected assorted shelves. If you person a tray, present would beryllium the clip to adhd that too,' says Samantha Wilson. 

'Once the ample items are successful presumption you tin statesman layering smaller pieces. Remember, the intent of your support is to show and not to conscionable store, truthful support the smaller items to a minimum to debar cluttering.'