5 Tips for Styling Your Shelves

The new year is a great chance to redecorate or just refresh things a bit! So, we’re excited to have Jessica McClendon, designer behind Glamour Nest, on our lifestyle blog today to weigh in on creating a bookcase/kitchen shelf/built in etc. worthy of that Instagram #shelfie. She’s sharing her useful tips for styling your shelves, but that’s not all! Below, Jessica also lets us know what accessories she uses to style them and where to find them on a budget!

Freshening up your bookcases in the New Year can be a great way to add new life to your space. First, I like to switch out photos. I have lots of little photo collections and they just keep growing, so I like to rotate them out from year to year. All of my photos just go live in a box, sometimes for a few years, and then come back out depending on the mood I am in for that year. I also love to rotate in a few new inexpensive, trendy accessories. Not a lot, but a few. It’s a great way to play with trends without spending a lot of money or allowing a trend to take over your home.

Lastly, I love adding to my book collection. I’m always on the lookout for beautiful versions of my favorite novels and classics. This year, I added the most beautiful set of Harry Potter books from Juniper Books. If books aren’t your thing, that’s cool, too! Just think about a collection you have or want to create. Maybe allow yourself to add to it each year so your collection feels fresh and exciting.

Here are 5 tips for styling your shelves in a fresh way…

1. Start with a color palette

Now I’m not saying that every object on your shelf has to be one of three colors. A color palette is all about having the framework to create visual cohesion. I like to use different types of materials in my palette so to allow for a variety of options. For example, my color and materials palette for a space might be gold, marble, bleached wood, gray, blue, and yellow. Think about featuring multiple variations of each color to add variety. If you are playing with blue, you might have items ranging from light blue to navy. With grey, you might have items that range from light grey and charcoal to black.

I have 3 items that I love to include on just about any and every shelf!

1. Books

It may sound like a no-brainer but in the age of paperless, you’d be surprised. Please, please, please include books on your bookshelves. Even if you aren’t a huge reader, you can include beautiful books on subjects you’re interested in. Fashion, art, various countries and cities, animals…you name it! I love mixing coffee table books on subjects I love along with novels. Books also help break up all the tchotchkes so your shelves don’t look cluttered. There’s a big difference between adding depth and texture and looking cluttered.

2. Sentimental photos

Part of what makes a house “a home” is photos! Nothing could be more personal. They are moments of your life captured. Pull them out! Now, I have seen both extremes. Some people only have frames and photos on their bookcase, and that’s no good because it lacks texture and depth. But, I have also seen some people who think they can’t put out photos out because it won’t look chic or styled. Balance is the key. You don’t want a bookcase full of photos, but you don’t want a bookcase without any photos either.

3. Something natural

This could be coral, crystals and gemstones, or pieces of grape wood or driftwood. No matter what your style is, there is something natural out there that you can add. For me, this helps ground any home…literally.

2. Mix textures

The saddest and most boring bookshelves are always flat because they have no variation in texture! Mixing textures and materials creates depth and interest. It subliminally pulls people’s eyes to explore and move. Don’t be afraid to mix textures that might not seem to go together! Opposites attract when it comes to bookshelves. Think matte items mixed with shiny and rough items mixed with smooth. You can even mix styles! Think “Classic & Tailored” mixed with “Natural & Earthy,” which might translate to smooth, shiny lacquered navy boxes with rough, natural matte coral. “Modern” mixed with “Vintage” could translate to modern shelves holding vintage globes.

3. Vary heights

Like mixing textures, a variety of heights will help add interest. Play with books stacked on their side as well as upright, and adding picture frames and objects of different sizes. Doing so will add visual texture, separation, and help make your bookshelves feel balanced.

4. Group collections

Grouping collections can create such a strong visual impact! I love using everything from a collection of globes to rocks and crystals, or even a collection of hands (glove forms, wood artist models, etc.). For example, five random hands spread throughout the house just isn’t as cool as grouping them all together. This is one of my favorite design tips because it takes the guesswork out of displaying your collections. Sometimes the best tips are the simplest!  

5. Let perfection go…

…because perfection is just not that interesting. It means you’re taking yourself way too seriously. Allow space for life! Since your shelves are contained, they are the perfect place to let go and have fun. For example, you can have gorgeous photos of your family that have been professionally taken (that’s great!), but feel free to add in some candid, silly shots too. Personally, I have Polaroid snap shots of my wedding taped up alongside my professionally shot and framed wedding photos. Maybe you have some beautiful art pieces? Awesome! Mix in a piece of art your child made (See tip #4.) Remember, your home should tell your story and let your personality shine in all its imperfect glory.

Where do you find budget friendly decor to fill the empty space? 

I am all about Target and Home Goods. These stores are great for picking up items that are inexpensive and on-trend. However, in places like this you have to be careful. The prices can be so good that you end up going crazy and buy a bunch of “stuff” you don’t want, or worse, that doesn’t truly represent you and your style. So, go in with a game plan. Have a list or even photos of the types of items you are searching for.

I tell my Thoughtful Nesting students to go into places like this armed with their Mood Board, a list, and measurements (if you are looking for items to fill your bookshelves then you need to know how deep and tall each shelf is). This way, they don’t end up buying items that won’t even fit. I also love thrift shops and little vintage shops. Not all vintage shops are budget friendly, but they do exist. Also, I honestly believe in going slow. I’d prefer a bookcase full of items that tell your story over a bookcase full of whatever trendy accessories everyone else is doing.

As in all things, it’s best to practice a little discernment. Fun accessories are a must and will represent your style, but don’t be afraid to slowly collect items on trips or throughout your life either.

Show us your #shelfie by tagging #everydayIBT on your Instagram photos!

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