Open shelving can be your best friend when it comes to styling your home, but for most it's their worst enemy. Finding the right objects and figuring out how to place them can seem like a daunting task, so hopefully our quick list of tips will help you muster up some confidence to style your own shelves.
First up, what to choose: use your best decorative items. Mixing and matching different types of items is a must, but be sure to have them match each other. A color scheme will make the entire shelving unit feel unified. Unless you have a specific color choice for the room already in mind, such as a bright color like green or red, we tend to keep the color scheme neutral. For example, for a client's contemporary office space, we chose black picture frames with white and gold decorative objects, separated by greenery in white vases and assorted books (vintage looking ones are the best!).
Here's a list of the categories of things to showcase on your shelves:
1. Your favorite books
2. Picture frames
4. Accent objects
5. Boxes and baskets
Secondly, get rid of the clutter. Your shelves are a great place to show off all of your favorite memories and family items, but its not a place to show off everything. A cluttered shelving unit can be unappealing to look at -- all your guests would focus on is the clutter and get distracted from what you're actually trying to show off. Here's a tip: buy a group of matching gallery frames in various sizes to put family photos and kid drawings in -- show off your stuff with style!
Thirdly, keep it simple and balanced. Simplicity means using the fewer items the better because you don't want to crowd the shelf. A group of 5-6 books and a decorative box is about the max amount of items your want to place on a shelf. Additionally, SFD's rule of thumb for balance is to alternate between a centered decorated shelf, a symmetrically decorated, and an asymmetrical decorated shelf (meaning either left or right side oriented).
The sketch below gives you an idea of our rule of thumb:
A) Centered decorated shelf
B) Symmetrically decorated shelf
C) Left oriented shelf
The SFD rule of thumb here is to make sure that you don't put too of the same type of shelf orientation next to each other (a.k.a. A below to A, B, next to B, etc.). Notice that in our drawing, we didn't just go A, B, C, A, B, C to create a pattern for the shelf orientation -- you can do that, but we just get creative and go random with our shelf orientation! When you've got it all set up, just stand back and look at it as a whole. If something doesn't look right, switch it up. You've got a eye for style, so trust your design gut!