Styling your shelves

Making one’s shelves, mantlepieces, desk top, dressing table or any other surface seems to be bane of most people’s lives. You have a lot of items randomly place on the surfaces and are frustrated that they just don’t look right. Are you in this category? Don’t despair - practice really does make perfect!

The word '“shelfie” appeared on Instagram in 2014 and has taken on a life of its own. It refers to an expression of you as a person in the items that you display on a surface.

Every shelf in your home should be pleasing to the eye and draw people to look at the items on display. Think of the analogy of a small piece of art on a very large wall compared with a lot of pieces of art grouped together creating a gallery wall which draws you in to look closer.

Here are a few tips to get you started on creating shelfies, followed by some images of shelfies from my own home and finishing with a book that I highly recommend you buy to create stylish shelves:

  1. Have a good declutter of items that you don’t consider to be useful or beautiful. Ask yourself “Do I need it, do I love it, do I want to keep it?” If the answer is no to each of these questions, throw it in the bin or give it to charity.

  2. Identify those items that you really love and would like to look at every day - aesthetically pleasing or maybe have some sentimental attachment. Sometimes a simple little clay pot can have an appeal so look for the beauty in every piece.

  3. Practical items like toiletries or makeup which may not be beautiful to look at but are necessary, grouped together even these can be optically pleasing.

  4. Half used candles don’t cut the mustard unless they are in pretty containers!!

  5. Ensure you have different heights in your shelfies and a few stacked books are a great way to add height.

  6. I often colour coordinate books and if you have a lot of books you can colour coordinate a whole bookcase to create a piece of “artwork”.

  7. Group items together to draw the eye - books, plants, candles, bottles, vases …….. the list is endless. Choose items with different textures and patterns.

  8. Small pieces of art are a great backdrop to a shelfie. They can be propped against a wall or against a small item.

  9. Plants and flowers are crucial elements to a good shelfie. They can be real or faux, fresh or dried. Cacti or succulents that don’t require much water are excellent as it’s easy to forget to water plant on shelves!

  10. Once you’ve created a shelfie, stand in front of it and note where your eye is drawn which may be one item or a group of items. If your eye isn’t drawn to anything in paticular you need to tweak the shelfie. Photographing it and looking at the photo for a few days is always useful.

Rather than my rabbiting on, if you are keen to learn how to style your shelves there is a fantastic little book, recently published that will help you create beautifully styled surfaces. It’s called ‘Shelfie: Clutter-clearing ideas for stylish shelf art’ by Martha Roberts. She has written the book so that it benefits both the novice and the more seasoned shelfie stylist who just needs some expert tips. The book has clear instructions, is not too wordy and is full of illustrative examples to help you. I highly recommend you buy yourself a copy. Click here Shelfie: Clutter-clearing ideas for stylish shelf art

Happy shelfie styling everyone!

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