We’ve all got favourite books, framed photos and precious keepsakes that are a reflection of our interests and life experiences. Putting them out on display feels good and brings warmth and character to interior spaces. Yet incorrectly arranged, it’s easy to make your home feel cluttered and chaotic. We’ve got some handy tips on how to style your shelf like a stylist to proudly parade your personal pieces.
The most essential step for styling your space is that it should tell your story and be filled with things you love. Treasures from your travels, beloved books, baby photos — all of these things are a part of your personal history. As you select your favourite pieces, you’ll start to see a theme evolve. Consider grouping them by colour, genre or material.
Visual interest comes from arranging things of varying heights. Start with the bigger items, such as tall prints or photos in the back, and arrange your smaller pieces in front. The idea is to create artistically arranged groups of objects — otherwise known as ‘vignettes’ — and the rule of thumb is to fashion items in an imaginary triangle. For instance, a tall statue in the back and two smaller items in front on each side.
For those with a full library, organise your books alphabetical (or you’ll never be able to find anything!). But if you just have a handful of favourite novels, art or design books, stack some horizontally and some vertical, or group them by colour. You don’t need to fill entire shelves. Stack some books to the left and some to the right on different tiers in clusters that can be grouped together, such as travel books, memoirs and magazines. This gorgeous display of our Clover Slim Bookcase was styled by @sarahmaloney and pictured in @houseandgarden magazine (October 2019). The Clover is available in a range of styles.
Once you’ve balanced out the bigger items, such as baskets, pots and books, start to introduce smaller decorative items, like family photos and ornaments. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and get eclectic. You may have toys and trinkets with special meaning, such as your first Rubic’s Cube or your grandma’s vintage fondue set. Show them off! A bit of quirk adds visual interest and intrigue. Or source some stylish pieces to reflect your personality, like an exotic lantern or a delicious essential oil diffuser. Stylists advise clustering things in odd numbers, such as 1, 3, 5 and even 7 items.
Add metallic accents to infuse a glint of glamour, but stick to either all warm colours (such as brass and gold) or all cold (such as silver and chrome). A picture frame, lamp or decorative box can bring the bling while also serving a practical purpose.
Finally, take a step back and observe the setting. Does it look balanced? Is it too cluttered? Sometimes leaving a little ‘negative space’ (blank areas) promotes the less-is-more attitude and helps the arrangement breathe. Move things around, if required, to better anchor corners or parade precious pieces until it just ‘feels’ right. If it’s looking Insta-worthy, you know you’ve nailed it!