September 20, 2019 3 min read

Cluttered, untended open shelving is one of the most noticeable eyesores in most homes. Don't get us wrong -- we love having open shelves that provide easy storage and access, whether it's a kitchen shelving unit, a bookcase in the living room, or even the bathroom rack. But because they are a focal point in the room, they must be treated as a decor element as well. A thoughtfully-arranged shelf can be the one unexpected difference between a messy-looking room and a refreshing (but still practical) space.

So if you have 20 minutes to spare today, we definitely recommend styling your open shelves. Here's a quick guide.

 

1. Pick your items.

Take down all the objects that are currently on the shelf. It's time to sort and streamline. Decide which objects can stay on the shelf and which ones you can stash away in a separate, concealed storage. 

For example, a typical kitchen shelf holds a mishmash of pots and pans, some dinnerware, cookbooks, spice jars, and more. You can store those bulky pots and pans in another cupboard or closed cabinet, leaving those cute spice jars and decorative dinnerware for displaying.

 

2. Shelf refresh

Now that the shelf is empty, see if it needs some TLC. A little dusting and polishing will work wonders! If you're feeling extra creative, you can do some upgrades such as refinishing the unit, lining the back with pretty fabric or wallpaper, or even installing some inner lighting.

 

3. Arrange the basic items.

We've come to the fun part. Start arranging your chosen items on the shelf, experimenting with their groupings, spacing, and symmetry.

A rule of thumb would be to place the larger items first, such as those bulky jars or big books. They're 'anchors' to the rest of the objects. Scatter them throughout the shelf in a way that's visually balanced, then place the smaller items around them. You can even play around with layering -- that is, putting the taller objects further to the back of the shelf, then positioning the small ones in front of them.

No matter how you arrange the objects, remember to leave lots of spaces in between. We still have a few more additions, and you want everything to have breathing room.

 

4. Punctuate with art and flora.

 

Your practical items are on the shelf; now, you can add some panache to it. Use some of the remaining spaces to display select ornaments such as figurines, small vases, art prints, framed photos, and little potted plants. The goal is to display bursts of style rather than keeping things uniform, so embrace the eclectic variety of your baubles!

We recommend small but beautiful text art, like this music-inspired canvas print:

 

5. Step back, adjust, and edit.

Take a look at your creation so far and see how you like it. Does it look a little cramped? Take down a few items and readjust. A little unbalanced? Switch up the positions of your larger objects. A little flat? Layer more objects in front of each other.

Edit your shelving as you wish, and don't be afraid to experiment! At the end of this process, you should be able to step back and see an open shelf that you'd love to look at everyday and be proud to show off to your guests.

 

Tell us: are you trying this interior decor tip at home? Share the results with us!

If you're on the hunt for inexpensive items to decorate your shelves with, check out our roundup of super-affordable wall art here.

Or if you're looking other beautiful, affordable home items, start browsing GearDen.com! Customers love our wall decor, pillows, and blankets -- and you'll find something you'll love, too.

Hyacinth Tagupa
Hyacinth Tagupa


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