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Simple tips for decorating shelves

What is it about walking into a beautiful home decor store that makes you want to buy just about everything? I'll share a little secret...it's all about the styling! Yes, the merchandise must be gorgeous and one of a kind, but part of the reason why you get that "I absolutely must have this" feeling is because everything is usually styled to perfection. And while retail styling is no easy task, I've put together a few simple tips for how you can achieve that "perfectly styled" look in your own home, whether on built in shelves or a bookcase. Keep reading to get my designer tips for decorating shelves:

Paint: If possible, paint your built-ins the same wall color as the rest of your room, or choose a darker color for contrast (as opposed to white). Adding a color base to your built-ins will dial up the drama, and really make your collection of decor pieces stand out.

The "Before" photo: plain white built-in shelves

The "After" look: painted with Behr's Heirloom Silver

Personalize: Start with a few of your favorite personal decor pieces, whether a few framed photos, framed wedding invitation, or momentos from a previous trip or vacation. Use frames that compliment each other (like different size and textured silver frames, with a natural wood for contrast).

Stack: Coffee table or reading books (preferably hardcover, with the jackets removed, so you can see the true color and texture of the books) that reflect your own interests are next. Stack some of them horizontally, and some upright to mix and match.

Layer: Metallic, marble, or wood objets (like vases, sculptures, orbs, lanterns, or candle holders) can fill in space next to photos or on top of books, and provide more depth and variations in texture for a "one of a kind" look.

Greenery: Adding faux potted plants and vases of flowers can give more "life" to your displays, and also give added doses of color. Stick with a neutral palette like whites and greens, and vases in silver, terra cotta, white, stone, or wood.

Scale: Each shelf should include pieces that compliment each other in size and scale, whether you are pairing two similar size pieces, or one large piece and one smaller piece. Think two similar sized framed photos, or a framed photo paired with a similar sized objet or potted plant.

Mix: To make your shelves or display feel like a styled, curated collection, alternate different decor pieces from shelf to shelf. Say you have a framed photo on the top shelf - alternate a potted plant on the second shelf, mix in more photos on the third, then maybe layer in books or a vase of flowers on the fourth shelf. The goal is to add variety, while still making your entire display feel cohesive and complementary.

And now you've got some perfectly styled, decorated shelves! Need some more inspiration or ideas? Shop the look with some pieces I've used or recommend for styling your shelf.

Shop the look:

Paint: Behr's Heirloom Silver

Wild Iris Home: Carved wood photo frame

Pottery Barn: Beaded silver frames

Target: Faux rosemary plant

Target: Faux potted succulent

Serena & Lily: A Great Party coffee table book

West Elm: Mercury glass candle holders

Mark & Graham: Silver mint julep cup

West Elm: Marble & wood geometric object

West Elm: Brass "Love" object

Amazon: Beautifully Organized coffee table book

Amazon: Peonies coffee table book

Pottery Barn: White faux rose bundle

Pottery Barn: Ivory lace hydrangea bundle

Williams Sonoma Home: White agave on stand

Birch Lane: Glass lantern

Want a designer's help to actually put your look together? Let's talk about it!

Happy styling,

*This post contains affiliate links to products mentioned in this post.