Skip to content

5 Proven Tips for Perfectly Styled Shelves

    Wondering how to decorate open shelving so that it doesn’t look cluttered and messy? Follow these simple tips and see just how easy it is to style open shelves.

    Styling shelves is sort of an art form, but there are a few tips you can apply to get perfectly styled shelves, every time .So, if you’re looking to perfect your shelf styling skills, you’re in the right my place my friend!

    Psssttt… Pin this post to your home decor tips board on Pinterest to reference later!

    These 5 proven tips are a mix of classics as well as a few things I’ve learned over the past few years as I’ve honed in on my shelf decor style. Ready to style your shelves like a pro? Let’s dive in!

    1. Use varying heights

    Mix up the height of the objects to keep the eyes moving from piece to piece. Use a combination of taller items and lower profile pieces to add interest.

    dining room shelves decorated with herbs, cups and bowls


    2. Group items in 3’s (& 2’s!)

    The general rule is to create groupings of three. This is because odd numbers are more aesthetically pleasing when it comes to decor – giving a balanced look without being too symmetrical.

    This is why most vignettes and centerpieces look best with an odd number of items styled together. And it can definitely look good on shelves too…

    shelf styled with sage in a terracotta pot, a candle, and a watering can


    But I like to challenge that idea when it comes to styling shelves and often pair two items together for an effortless look. This works best with simple items that have two drastically different heights.

    hanging shelves styled with decor


    You can see in the photo above, each shelf has a grouping of two. The shelf on the left has a singular item (glass sphere) paired with 2 monochromatic items (glass bottle and fox figurine) next to it. The lower shelf has two items centered in the middle.

    Because these shelves are so small, groupings of 2 kept them from looking too cluttered.

    3. Layer, layer, layer

    Layer objects in front of other items to create interest and depth. I love to place items slightly in front of or behind other items to make it look like they are peeking around each other.

    This keeps the shelves from looking boring and flat.

    bathroom linens shelves styled with burlap, greenery, and a glass jar for cotton balls


    Framed artwork also make a great option to achieve a layered look.

    bathroom shelf styled with a framed black and white cow print, and a decorative firework print


    Related: Farmhouse Bathroom Makeover REVEAL (on a budget!)

    4. Use multiples of the same item

    Group multiples of the same items in neat rows or stacked on top of each other to transform what would be a simple item into an artistic display.

    This works great for shelves in dining and kitchen areas using cups and bowls doubling as functional decor!

    shelf styled with a Eat More Pie sign, and two stacked copper mugs
    kitchen shelves styled with wine glasses, a bowl, books, and mugs


    Bonus:  Add clear glass pieces, like the row of wine glasses above, to make the space appear visually ‘lighter’.

    5. Don’t forget the greenery!

    If you ever feel like your shelf decor is missing something, double check that you’ve added some greenery! Whether it’s real or faux, greenery helps liven up the space and keeps it from looking stale.

    It doesn’t have to be too fancy – think wreaths, potted plants or even dried stems poking out of a vintage glass bottle.

    Related: 4 Summer Decorating Trends You Should Be Keeping All Year Long

    kitchen shelves styled with potted greenery, plates, a kettle, and books


    dining room shelves styled with a cutting board, a cake stand, potted greenery and glass canisters


    I hope these tips helped simplify the process of decorating your shelves! Just remember – less is more, and at the end of the day if YOU think it looks good, that’s all that matters! 🙂

    Checkout some of my favorite affordable decor finds on Amazon for ideas on what to fill your shelves with!

    What’s one of your favorite shelf styling tips? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!

    kitchen shelves decorated with plants, tableware, books and vases