Making a Statement with Shelving

Making a Statement with Shelving

It’s quite common to have shelving in both older, as well as new construction homes. I hear from my customers all of the time, “I don’t know what to do with these shelves.” “How do I place things on them?” Shelving is a huge focal point, whether in the family room or home office. Designing your shelves should be an expression of your style and personality. It’s also an opportunity to showcase family photos, keepsakes and your favorite home décor items that you have collected over time. There’s no one way to approach it, but here are some tips that will help you make an WOW statement with your shelving.

Importance of BALANCE

Shelves give you a blank slate to play. It’s space to fill, however balance and visual weight play an important role when placing items. First, make sure your shelves don’t look too crowded or too sparse.If you have a large sculptural piece, it can definitely stand alone, while smaller items can be grouped together. When placing items together, remember odd numbers look better in a group versus even numbers. The goal is to use a mix of items, objects, sculptures, books, collections and more. Lastly, don’t be afraid to leave empty space. This will ensure that your design is clean and not cluttered. My favorite three words in design are “Less is More”.



Decide what color palette you want to use. In selecting them, consider using a base color, as well as a metallic color like silver or gold.Keep it simple and consistent as you style the shelves. Colorful items will guide your eyes from one place to another. If you vary the shades of a color, this will also add interest to the design.

Think about the material and color that you want to use and where it is placed – gold, nickel, metallic, wood, ceramic or glass. For example, if you decide to use gold items, strategically spread them out so that the objects don’t look too heavy. Place a complementary color with the gold so that the space feels balanced. Don’t be afraid to add and remove items until your space feels balanced.


Using artwork on shelves is a new trend that’s appearing more and more in model homes. This will create a WOW factor, as well as provide a pop of color that aligns with your palette. Keep in mind, that art will take up a lot of space, so use it wisely. It may be best used in larger spaces. For example, a large area in the middle of a bookshelf. Art will immediately draw your eye to the space and it will appear larger and layered. This will make more of an impact than using several small items. You can also lean the art in the space if you prefer not to hang it. Painting the back of your shelves or lining them with wallpaper will add an unexpected twist.


To add variety to your design, consider adding horizontal and vertical items going in different directions. For horizontal, you can use a decorative box, a tray with round objects in it, or even stacked books with a small item placed on top. Contrast this direction with vertical objects like a picture frame or vase. Changing the direction in placement offers variety and visual interest. You can also varyshelf heights so that they don’t all line up exactly.  This will allow you to use larger pieces.



Using books on your shelves is a must, as they add color, texture, and height. Place books both vertically and horizontally to mix up the flow of your items. Bookends are also another way to add interest and express your personality.  You will be able to find a wide variety of unique bookends, including natural elements like agate, stone or rock.


Consider adding greenery to your shelving. It adds texture and natural color. Nothing adds life to a room like greenery.  You can use faux grass or an edgy succulent in a beautiful container.


When it’s all said and done, you can use these tips, but what really matters is that you showcase your home and what you love.Make sure your styling reflects your personality and style and gives you joy. Lastly, use the “Less is More” technique to keep your designs simple, elegant and clutter-free. Here are some of Oasis Accents’ decorative items that are available for purchase and examples of how to pair items. I hope they inspire you!


Happy Designing!







1 comment

  • Cynthia Waters

    Very well explained with great examples!
    Your very talented and your Gift definitely is making room for you, thank you for sharing!


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