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An Interior Designer's Tips for Styling Shelves

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

Blog post with tips for styling shelves from an Interior Designer. Lucyshyn Designs styled shelf with wine glasses, wooden salt and pepper grinders, plates, bowls, a small house plant and a ceramic jug. Open functional shelves are made of white oak.

If you’re an interior design junkie (which, I hope you are!), then you probably swoon over the perfect styled shelf just like I do!

Whether it’s styled shelves from the Lucyshyn Designs Instagram account, the always effortless Studio McGee portfolio, or any of the other AMAZING interior designers out there - there’s just something about decorated shelves that is cozy, put-together, and dreamy!

So why not give it a shot in your home?? I am a firm believer that any one can have designer-worthy styled shelves (on ANY budget) with just a few tips and tricks!

So here are my personal tips for styling shelves so you can the designer moment of your dreams!

Why the heck do we even need tips for styling shelves?

Cause it’s frickin' harder than it looks!

Haha - but seriously: have you ever gone out of your way to collect home decor that you find inspiring, personal, and fits your interior design style and then when you go to put it one the shelf it just looks like a mess? Have you ever struggled with how to arrange your home decor so that it feels balanced and effortless?

It’s hard! Curating a cohesive home decor selection and designing styled shelves can be really challenging.

That’s why I wanted to put all of my interior designer tips for styling shelves into this blog post. So you can easily create aesthetic (and functional) shelving that speaks to you and your home!

My tips for styling shelves...

Blog post about an interior designer's tips for styling shelves. A rustic, reclaimed wood mantle is decorated with a stack of woven coasters and a ceramic vase with pampas grass. The open shelving next to the mantle is decorated with a stack of neutral colored books and a small house plant.

Use a variety of decor

If you’re styling bookshelves or any open display shelf, I always love to use a variety of home decor items. Think books, candles, artwork, bowls, little nick-nacks, and personal items. I feel like we are living in the prime of home decorating with so many resources and inspirational content all around us! There’s a BUNCH of unique items of all shapes and sizes available at both large box stores and small home decorating businesses.

P.S. If you’re looking for cozy home decor to add a unique tough to your shelf styling, check out my curated decor collection on the Lucyshyn’s shop!

Blog post for an interior designer's tips for styling shelves. Open shelving on a lower kitchen cabinet is styled with cook books, a small wooden riser and a small house plant. The royal blue kitchen cabinets are set against the white kitchen.

Pops of greenery

This is a signature of Lucyshyn Designs - I LOVE to add pops of greenery to my shelf styling. This is by far one of my favorite tips for styling shelves. Within your shelf vignette, try adding in some natural elements, like faux floral or greenery stems, a potted plant, or even live foliage! You can switch out your greenery seasonally to refresh your space and design around nature!

Consider weight (both physical and visual)

This tip for styling shelves is both aesthetic and functional! If you have heavier items or items that take up a lot of space visually, try putting those items on your bottom shelves. Functionally, those weighty items should be at the bottom so they don’t bow the shelves and they are easier to get on and off the shelves. Aesthetically, bulky items create visual weight, and it’s pleasing to see them at the foundation of your beautiful styled shelves!

Blog post with tips for styling shelves from an interior designer. The open shelving is decorated with two neutral colored books, a string of wooden beads, and a decorative white oak pear. A faux holly plant in a textured white vase sits next to the books.

The rule of three…

I don’t know what it is, but stuff just looks good in threes! According to Apartment Therapy, three is the smallest number that our brains can use to distinguish a pattern. It also motivates your eyes to move around - which creates a more interesting experience visually. So cool! Use this bit of knowledge to hack your shelf-styling. Group your home decor items in groups of three to create an engaging display!

Bonus Tip: With the "rule of three", play with different heights too!

Blog post with tips for styling shelves from an interior designer. The image is an explanation of the "s" method. The open shelves are styled with home decor in an S pattern, so that the eye moves across all shelves easily.

The “S” Method

Another visual trick that interior designers and decorators use is the “S” method. This tip is easier to explain with a photo. Try to arrange your home decor so that the eye moves in an “S” pattern across the shelves. This helps create movement and flow!

Mix up your book displays

Another one of my favorite tips for styling shelves: play with your books! Display them vertically, stack them horizontally, use them to layer another decor piece on top of, lean them diagonally, etc. You can even choose to display your books with the spin facing in OR out. This is a great trick if you would like a book for easy access that may not have the most aesthetically pleasing cover. You can use this shelf styling trick throughout your display and create a lot of variety!

The Perfect Shelfie

And there you have it! My favorite tips for styling shelves straight from an interior designer! Use these tips to create that designer look all on your own. But before we go, I have a few more words of advice:

  • Take your time! There’s no race to be won. Play with your design, live with it for a few days, play a little more. Repeat until you know you’ve really nailed it!

  • Use what you already have - especially personal or sentimental items! This is, after all, you and your family’s home. Little touches that bring you joy or bring up memories can always be a part of your design!

  • Refresh your design from time to time. Shop your house, change things out seasonally, update pieces - it’s an easy way to make a space feel brand new again!

Anyone can create a beautifully styled shelf with some time and the right items - but if you’d rather a designer work their magic, you can reach out about Lucyshyn’s Designs signature service “The Perfect Shelfie.”

Until next time, happy decorating!

Blog post about tips for styling shelves from an interior designer. The Lucyshyn Designs Studio portfolio image shows a grand reclaimed wood mantle with built in shelving on either side. The shelving is decorated with neutral home decor from the Lucyshyn Design's Shop and other retailers. The shelves are decorated using Lucyshyn Design's tips for styling shelves.

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