Open shelves can be super tricky to style. However, these major storage solutions can be one of the best places in a home to showcase your personality, hobbies and family heirlooms. As an interior designer, I'm constantly thinking about those final details that make a house feel like home for our clients and bookcases play a big role in that. In general, I heir on the side of under-styling versus over-styling, and I achieve our signature California casual look by incorporating different textures, sculptural pieces and bringing in closed storage to hide the not-so-pretty things. Below, I'm breaking down the exact steps we take to style open shelves and how you can implement them in your own house.
5 Steps to Perfect Shelf Styling
Start with a clean slate - Anytime I tackle shelves, I always clear everything out first. On installation days, we'll have everything already unboxed and grouped by category, so I can see everything we're working with. Wipe down your shelves with a dry microfiber cloth first to ensure there's no dust or buildup that could transfer to your books.
Place your largest items first - Working in a zigzag pattern, begin adding your largest items first. These may be sculptural pieces, vases, storage baskets or stacks of boxes. By spreading out the largest items first, your eye will naturally move throughout the shelves in a natural, organic way.
Add in books - Whether color categorized or grouped by size, now it's time to layer in books. I love using a small stack as a tray for a decorative object (Step) to display your favorite coffee table books. Try turning your books vertically or laying them flat to add additional dimension and height variation. Pro Tip: Turn your novels backwards to show the beautiful creamy pages for a cohesive, minimal look that makes for total eye-candy.
Bring in storage - I love adding sturdy baskets at the base of open shelves for toy storage, games, or ugly tech equipment. By grouping them together, they help to anchor the shelves. Additionally, their added weight help keep the shelves stable from little climbers.
Add in decor - This is definitely my favorite part! Now that all the foundational pieces are in, you can add in your cherished decor pieces (sparingly). Think about mixing metals, using different textures, and grouping like items together for a bigger statement. I always like o
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Photography by Amy Bartlam