Over the past decade of helping homeowners and business design and decorate their spaces, one of the things I am often tasked with is decor. From art, tables, walls, and all the other things that can get homeowners stumped, it can be overwhelming when choosing those items to help make a space fill more complete.
One of the biggest requests I get over and over? How to style shelves! Whether it’s in the kitchen, living room, bedroom or office, shelf decor can be one of the hardest parts of decorating to figure out.
The trick with shelf decor is finding the perfect balance between stuff and space. Too many items can make a shelf look cluttered or over-crowded, while too few items can make it feel empty and incomplete.
With that said, here are 11 simple ideas for shelf decor that anyone can use. This list includes many items you can find any just about any home decor shop, including our own!
Plants are such a fun way to add color and texture to a space. Mixing and matching plant types, along with their pots, is a great way to fill up space and provide a little personality to a room.
I love the look and low maintenance of succulents. They come in varying shades of green, and often have pink, red, or yellow mixed in. They are low maintenance, and come in varying sizes, so they are easy to work with.
Remember when choosing plants to think about the light they’ll get and where they will be within easy reach to water. And if they do require water, make sure to get a pot with the drain plate underneath!
Decorating a room with little or no light? Consider a faux plant! Our Spring 2022 decor box included a faux hanging plant that is perfect for shelf decor.
Check out some of the shelves below to see how plants of all sizes can be used on shelves!
Picture Frames are a great way to add art or a personal touch to your space!
Frames, along with the print inside, are a very subjective thing to work with. I encourage you to find frames that are fun or unique. Add brass or chrome, white, colors, or black. You can create symmetry by using frames of the same color and shape/style. Or, you can mix it up with varying colors and textures.
Family photos or art are meant to reflect what you love, so feel free to put either in those frames. I do recommend choosing all color or all black and white, if you are using photos.
Also keep in mind that while square and rectangular frames may be easier to display, there’s no reason to limit yourself to those shapes! Round and oval frames can help break up the monotony of the straight lines of the shelves and nearby walls.
We’ve collected some examples below to show you how simple it is to incorporate pictures into your shelf decor!
3. Geometric Shapes
Geometric shapes are another fun item to add to any shelf. Think globes, pyramids, rings and more!
Many times the location of the shelf will dictate what shape makes sense. For example, I love adding a globe to office shelves because they add a little touch of sophisitication. And in kitchens or dining rooms, adding bowls and plates is both a convenient and easy way to add shapes to a shelf.
Just remember to not overdo it with these as just one or two pieces will go a long way. When choosing these items, stick with the color scheme that you are basing everything else on. If you love brass, go for it! Black, white, and colored pieces are everywhere these days, and it really is a matter of taste.
Check out a few examples below of using geometric shapes to help decorate shelves!
We absolutely love putting candles on shelves! Not only do they come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, they are also a functional element because they provide scent and light!
When it comes to picking candles for a shelf, think big and think funky. A large, simple candle in its own jar may do the trick. For example, our Summer 2022 decor box included a full size candle from Glassell Candle Company. One of the reasons we picked them is because the jars were a black matte finish, and we knew they would look great in any space and provide both beauty and function.
If a large candle jar isn’t for you, consider a candleholder. We love this approach because you can pick candles of different lengths and colors to get even more creative with your shelf decor.
For example, in our Winter 2021 decor box we included two cement and wood candlesticks with long, white taper candles. A year later, in our Fall 2022 decor box, we included a black resin candleholder in a funky curved designed with short candles.
Just remember, if you are planning to actually use the candles while they are on the shelf, be mindful of the space! Leave enough clearance to ensure neither the flame nor the smoke will damage the surrounding shelves or decor.
And of course, if you want the scent of candles without the flame, consider alternatives such as diffusers or scented wooden balls. Both of these are great alternatives to burning a candle while still helping to fill in empty spaces on shelves!