How to Style Shelves

Styling Shelves by

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For the DIY decorator styling shelves is like knowing how to make a wreath or paint a nightstand. You really need to know it because if you don’t your decor will probably frustrate you.

So, let’s break it down, shall we?

There really are only three things you need to remember to get that effortless looking display.

How to Style Shelves

How to Style Shelves Farmhousestyle by
  • Before you get started, clear everything off your shelves and take this opportunity to deep clean them.

  • Next, gather all your potential decorations. Items like big baskets, matching dishes, vintage books, pictures and artwork and small random antiques or natural pieces work really well. Oh, don’t forget some greenery. Always, have at least one pop of green!
  • Now you are ready to start designing! Start with the bottom shelf first. Add in a couple of “heavy” pieces. By this I mean, visually heavy. So, anything large or dark colored. This adds a foundational weight to the whole scene.
How to Style a Bookshelf by
  • The next part I like to call “zig zagging”. As you begin to add other pieces in, keep a diagonal pattern going. Pictures should not be directly above, beside or below another picture. Dishes shouldn’t be directly above, beside or below other dishes. Keep darks, lights and plants going in diagonal patterns for the viewer.
  • The final tip is to think of the shelves from a bird’s eye view. Again, zig zag the items from this angle. From the front view it will look like layering and some things to the front, while others are positioned at the back of the shelves.

Now to see all this in action, watch this quick video on how I styled our bookshelves for spring this year!

Styling a Bookshelf by


  1. Pat
    March 10, 2019 / 4:22 PM

    LOVE your decorated shelving unit.
    Black, white and green is my all~time favorite color palette for designing!
    Truly, a Timeless Classic look!
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 25, 2019 / 6:14 PM

      Oh fun! You are my kind of girl!

  2. Tanya Hulbert
    March 10, 2019 / 10:14 PM

    Isn’t it funny how just a slight turn of your decor can make all the difference, too? I love starting with a clean palette. My struggle with bookshelves is when they’re loaded with books! Haha!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 25, 2019 / 6:15 PM

      Your bookshelves are gorgeous!! No need to re-do them. xoxo. Thanks for all your love and support.

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