Decorate the shelf: A stylish shelf in just a few simple steps

How can we decorate a shelf so that it is not only practical but also fits into the decor? We explain the basic rules and the best way to get started – we also don’t want to withhold a few great examples from you.

Shelves usually stand (or hang) in our homes because we need storage space: for books, crockery, toys and whatever else accumulates over the course of a lifetime. Books are placed in a disorderly manner, odds and ends accumulate and it quickly becomes untidy and cluttered. With cupboards, there is a tried and tested immediate trick against a chaotic sight: close the doors. This hack Of course, this does not work with open shelves. You only need a few basics to create a beautiful overall picture – and enjoy decorating.

6 tips for decorating shelves

1. Arrange books correctly

Decorate shelf: bookshelf, armchair and large plant

© Shanti / Adobe Stock

Shelves are often used to store books. If you like it practical, put the books in as they arrive. Depending on the size, this can be overwhelming. You loosen up the whole thing with decorations and with the way you sort the books. Hence the first tip: Switch the arrangement. Group some books together and place them upright on the shelf. Next to it you put books in a stack, the largest at the bottom and the smallest at the top. Advantage of the variant: You can put a decorative object on it and give it more presence. Try out what works harmoniously for you: in a row alternately horizontally and vertically, a few books lying on a shelf, standing diagonally underneath and/or always small free spaces for other favorite items.

2. Harmonious coloring

Decorate shelves: living room furnished in gray

© 4th Life Photography / Adobe Stock

You have certainly bought the wall or standing shelf to match your living style. Tip number two ties in with this: When decorating, make sure that they color matches the decor. That doesn’t have to mean everything in one color. Splashes of color are also a nice eye-catcher. So that things don’t get too restless, it is advisable to combine no more than three different colors.

3. Decorate in groups

Decorate shelf: tray with vases and bowl

© Daria Minaeva / Adobe Stock

If you want to put decorative items on the shelf, arrange them in small groups. Choose one for this odd number of objects, which looks more harmonious to the eye. For many, three is a magic number here. Nobody needs to stick to this, but it can make sense depending on the size of the shelf.
Put the objects close together so that they form a unit – but of course not too close together. Just listen to your gut feeling. It becomes really harmonious when the decoration is not arranged evenly next to each other, but asymmetrically.

4. Arrange the decoration in a pyramid shape

Decorate shelf: living room with low shelf and deco

© FollowTheFlow / Adobe Stock

Only small elements on the shelf would cause unnecessarily unrest, only large pieces quickly seem overwhelming – our tip number four helps against this: It is better to use different sizes for your decoration on the shelf. The following applies to the groups: the largest in the middle (to the back), smaller pieces (in front and) to the left and right of it. If you look at it from a distance, you should see a pyramid shape, so a peak in the middle, decreasing in height left and right.

5. Create contrasts

Decorate the shelf: wall shelf with decorative objects

© FollowTheFlow / Adobe Stock

Contrasts not only make life exciting, your shelves also benefit from contrasts. don’t be afraid to to mix materials. Whether a leather case next to a wooden vase or a ceramic vase next to concrete decoration – the contrast is what makes it so appealing.

6. Infuse personality

Decorate shelf: Turntables and LPs

© Martin Bergsma / Adobe Stock

It’s your home, so your shelves should reflect that. In addition to books, dishes and beautiful decorative objects should Items of personal value don’t fall short. Whether in the form of framed family photos, kitschy holiday souvenirs or grandma’s record player – anything goes if you like it.

Wall shelf or standing shelf? Decoration tips for different types of shelves

standing shelf

Decorate shelf: desk and standing shelf

© / Adobe Stock

Standing shelves are available in various widths and heights, with or without a back panel. With half-height shelves, large pictures and table lamps look good at the top, small items disappear into them baskets or boxes with lids. These little hiding places also look good on high shelves. Plants loosen up a shelf: A climbing plant, such as ivy, can sit on top of the cupboard and create a natural living atmosphere in no time at all. When choosing greenery, pay attention to the needs of the location – otherwise you may feel fine, but your plant will soon hang its head.

wall shelf

Decorate shelf: living room with armchair and wall shelves

© shelbys / Adobe Stock

A wall shelf often looks a bit more delicate and lighter than standing shelves. A few selected books can also be placed here (pay attention to the load!), small vases, Peel and a decorative art object make a wall shelf look stylish.

photo bar

Decorate shelf: desk and shelves

© 4th Life Photography / Adobe Stock

With a narrow photo bar, sensitivity is required. You can use the wall board for picture frames and combine it with a few other decorative items. Select them carefully and also pay attention to the different sizes of the frames. Ideally, all photos or prints should have similar imagery and color schemes.

If you want more variety, you can, for example, use a larger object, e.g. Legs vaseplace as an eye-catcher, in addition small cacti and graceful candlesticks.

Bedroom, kitchen or children’s room: ideas for decorating shelves

Order and style for the kitchen

The crockery is scattered all over the shelf, as are the eighteen different spices and a few old teas? Sure, that’s kind of practical: one handle and you have what you need. A kitchen shelf does not have to be impractical.

To make it decorative: place nice stacked plates inside, a few glasses with the same look next to them, fill loose goods (e.g. tea, lentils or noodles) into large and small storage jars or jars, interrupt the arrangements by culinary herbs – they fit perfectly into the arrangement and provide splashes of colour. Do you have great cookbooks or food magazines? They should not be missing from your kitchen shelf. A beautiful art print also feels right at home on an open shelf.

Are you constantly looking for the tea strainer, your favorite tea and the napkins? Arrange them together on a tray. This not only looks decorative, it also gives them a permanent place and you have everything quickly to hand.

Calm and harmony for the bedroom

A shelf above the bed creates a cozy atmosphere if it is well decorated. Warm lighting makes sense here, e.g fairy lights, and plants and other natural materials (e.g. a wall plate made of water hyacinth) quickly ensure a feeling of well-being in the bedroom. We want to calm down in the room, which should also be reflected in the shelf decoration. The same applies here: Avoid clutter and decorate less than more.

Jewels for the living room

A lot of time is spent in the living room, so we want this room to be correspondingly cozy and stylish. Fresh cut flowers, framed artwork, fine ceramic decoration, lanterns and beautiful baskets or glasses to store away – A shelf in the living room could be decorated in this way. The good thing is: a piece of furniture like an open shelf can also be used as a room divider, for example! This combines the practical with the decorative in an excellent way. Pictures can hardly be used in this case, but there is enough space for plants, large vases, books and sculptures as eye-catchers.

Reading tip: Here we reveal more room divider ideas.

Toys as decoration in the children’s room

Not everyone needs a completely designed Montessori children’s room right away, but an open shelf and a manageable number of toys offer useful advantages. Because in this way the independence of children can be encouraged, for example by being able to easily put away their toys. Selected toys also ensure that they are not overstimulated.

In the realm of the little ones there are many treasures that are ideal as decoration: self-painted pictures, a stuffed animal gang and your favorite books. Small items are quickly stowed away in boxes and baskets. If you like, you can bring a (homemade) pennant chain or one over the half-height shelf macrame-Artwork on.

Decorate shelves thematically

Regardless of the function of a room, you can also decorate a shelf thematically. You love art and can fill a whole bookshelf with books about it? make one themed shelf from it: In addition to the books, a framed painting comes in, a model hand, a ceramic project you created yourself … there are no limits to your imagination!

Also a nice idea if your child has a preference for our solar system, for example:

How do I start and what can I decorate with?

This is how you proceed step by step:

  1. Start big: Place the large pieces first, they should be evenly distributed and not placed directly one below the other. This gives you a good basis for adding your upcoming favorite pieces in a coherent way.
  2. sort books: If books are to be placed on the shelf, sort them into large and small stacks and groups.
  3. Picture Frame: Framed photos or artwork is next, e.g. B. Leaning against the wall on shelves without a back wall or placed behind a small stack of books.
  4. stop small: Finally, you arrange the small pieces, for example the grouping is suitable.
  5. Find the right balance: When you have finished decorating, stand back and let the overall picture sink in. Is everything coherent and harmonizing with each other? Avoid the mistake of trying to put everything on one shelf. When in doubt, it’s better to use less so that it doesn’t look chaotic and cluttered.

It works with these pieces

You will find tons of decorations to buy, just as you will already have plenty at home to make your shelves stand out. You have the feeling that certain something is still missing? Maybe there is something for your shelf among the following ideas!

Nice ideas for the shelf:

Whether winter or summer: We provide you with tips on decorating the garden, fireplace, windowsill and creative ideas with fairy lights.

On our Pinterest pinboard there are other furnishing ideas.

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Peggy McColl

Mentor l NY Times Bestselling Author. Hi, I'm Peggy McColl, and I'm here to deliver a positive message to you!

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