Top Shelf - Master Open Shelving With 9 Expert Styling Tips


Top Shelf - Master Open Shelving With 9 Expert Styling Tips

Blame it on the shelfie craze, or perhaps we’ve just been stuck inside too long this winter, but it seems we’re all obsessed with open shelving right now.

It’s easy to see why: open shelving is practical and affordable, and it allows you to display the things that are meaningful to you in a fresh and fun way. If you have open shelving in your home, make sure it looks its best with these easy styling tips.


1. Mix things up

Should your shelves be filled with pretty things? Absolutely. But just as important are the functional and sentimental items that make your house a home. Plants, photos, ornaments, art, vessels and vases – include them all. And as you do, be mindful of mixing up the sizes, textures, styles and tones of the items you display on each shelf in order to create variety and interest.

2. Arrange books with care

Whether you have a book collection to rival the National Library of Australia or you’re more of a one-book-a-year kind of reader, books are up there as one of the most popular items for living room shelves, which is good news as they can really bring open shelving to life.
Stack your books both vertically and horizontally, and mix up the colours evenly for a sense of balance (or colour block them, if that’s more your thing). Then, use a pile of horizontally stacked books of different sizes as the foundation for your favourite ornament or vase, and continue to build from there.
And don’t forget about books in the kitchen…
Choose a few of your favourite recipe books and put them on display – having them readily accessible in this way might even encourage you to try out a few new recipes.

3. Use open shelving for essential items

Open shelving can be a great place to store your everyday kitchen essentials, such as glassware, crockery and condiments, as it keeps your benchtops clear and everything close to hand. Add in a stack of beautiful bowls or unique pottery finds and your shelving soon becomes as pretty as it is practical.
Put items you use regularly within easy reach and those things you use less frequently, such as appliances, vases and platters, at the upper and lower levels.
For real visual impact limit yourself to just two or three colours, and group pieces of a similar size, colour or material together.

4. Add interest with art and small mementos

You might think art should just be reserved for walls. Not so. Art, particularly those smaller pieces that can sometimes struggle to get noticed on a large wall, can be a great addition to open shelving. Use small works of art as well as mementos and trinkets you’ve collected on your travels to add personality to your display, and reveal a little about where life has taken you.
You can add depth to your shelves by layering items. Try placing a framed artwork at the back of a shelf and then put one or two smaller objects or different-shaped pieces in front of it, but slightly off to the side.

5. Have a unifying element running through your displays

When you’re decorating a home, it’s always important to have a clear and consistent colour scheme, and the same applies to the contents of your shelves. A subtle thread of the same colour, with the blue accents, is a really lovely way to create a sense of flow through your shelving display and your home.


6. Add a dramatic backdrop

Itching to try that bright paint colour in your home, but don’t want to use it across an entire room? Try using it to make a feature of open shelving instead. By choosing a colour that contrasts with your display items, you’ll find that it highlights their form and texture beautifully.


7. Think beyond vertical lines

Shadow box shelving is an increasingly popular alternative to long, vertical shelves, and can be a great option if you need to work your wall storage around furniture, size restrictions or awkward room layouts. They’re also great for creating unusual, eye-catching wall displays.


8. Add open shelves to unexpected spots

Not just reserved for kitchens and living spaces, open shelving can steal the show in your bathroom too. Display fresh fluffy towels, luxury toiletries or a lush, leafy vine in an otherwise overlooked corner of the bathroom.

9. Resist the temptation to fill every shelf

It’s okay to leave some shelves empty. Really. You might choose to leave some empty in order to give the pieces on display some breathing space or to create a sense of balance, or you may wish to draw attention to the beautiful joinery.

Source: Laura Downie, Houzz Australia Contributor, Houzz