I love the look of open shelves! They are everywhere in home decor right now and have a fresh, old-is-new-again look! I know many home decorators have been jumping on the open shelf trend opting for them instead of kitchen cupboards. I think they are very brave!!! I would not want the content of my kitchen in plain view! I’m not that organized! Bobby and I did add open shelves above the bar in our breakfast room and we love them. I have come to find out that there is a method to arranging open shelves so they don’t look cluttered or too sparse or unbalanced. Here are some decorator tips for decorating open shelves (or a hutch or bookcase or any other flat surface) like a pro!
There are as many ways to style a shelf as there are people styling them!!!! I think decorating is the ability to create a space that is truly our own and has our personal style signature attached to it! And I find a little bit of a miracle in that!
Too many home decorators give up or afraid to try something new because they think they won’t do it “right”! Even the most seasoned professional decorators don’t get it “right” the first or second or tenth time either! And “right” is very subjective! Right for you may be different than right for me when it comes to home decor.
But there are tips and guidelines that can help us create beauty and balance and a sense of well being in our homes.
Here are a few tips to help you style almost any open type shelf like a pro!
Bring together all the things you might like to use in your open shelves. Collect things from other rooms and the basement and attic. I usually collect far too many things so I have lots of options! Options are good when it comes to decorating!
Collect items that are tied together in similar ways like color or purpose or configuration. This will ensure that your shelves look organized and pretty and purposeful and not cluttered and a place to stash “stuff”.
I collected white dishes, white soup tureens, white kitchenware, galvanized metal objects, textured baskets and some organic green. These items have a common thread of white, kitchenware, galvanized metal, texture from the baskets and organic materials.
I collected things for my open shelves in a big laundry basket and spread them out on my kitchen so I could see them well.
I think one of the biggest things that hold us (I know from experience) back when it come to decorating is “how” to start! Here’s a little secret… for many decorating projects there is no right way to start! We just need to begin. Dig in and begin! Take that first and hardest step! We are not rocket scientists we are decorators! Just do it!
Once all the items are collected for your open shelves (or hutch or bookcase) start arranging. Add and edit and work on your shelves. It took me many rounds of arranging and rearranging and walking away for awhile and coming back to my open shelves to get a configuration that I was pleased with.
Decorating is a PROCESS! And there is much to be learned from it. Give yourself lots of time to work and play when decorating!
Even open shelves need a place that our eyes can first rest upon. Something that we purposely arrange as a “center” or landing pad for our design. It can be subtle or bold.
In my open shelf design I chose to use the center of my shelves to be a focal point. I added a large soup tureen in the middle of each shelf, with the rabbit soup tureen in the center of the shelves as a whole.
Even if we have an asymmetrical design for shelves or bookcases or hutches we still need an area that our eye finds as a sorta home base!
Adding decor to shelving is all about balance! Balance is making sure the visual weight of things work together. Our eyes love balance and order! When things work together and compliment each other they strike a pleasing visual balance.
One of the easiest, decorating-101-ways to have a sense of balance and order on shelves is to divide them into “sections”. Any odd number of sections work best. My shelves are about 7 feet long so dividing them into sections of 5 worked best for my space.
Think of each little section as an area to create a tiny vignette. And all the tiny vignettes should work together. It’s okay to leave some of the sections fee of any items but even undecorated spaces must be balanced with the overall design. I’m sorta the embellishment queen (self coronated) so leaving empty space is still a work in progress for me!
When thinking of balance, think of a teeter totter! If we stack too many children on one end of the teeter totter it will not be balanced. The end with more children stacked on it will go down and the other end will go up… and stay up.
In balancing open shelves we want to “stack” our elements so they sit evenly on the teeter totter of design!
Notice that the galvanized elements are spaced out on the shelves to create balance. As are the cookbooks and the baskets! This took lots of playing with my dishes and other kitchenwares. Adding and editing and arranging and rearranging. I’m sure I’ll tweak these shelves again and again!
It seem the word “layer” pops up whenever I talk about decorating. I think learning to layer is the basis for creating interest and style! Especially in the world of open shelving, layering is important! Open shelves should be for stacking and layering!
Layering is especially important when creating a very monochromatic design like my shelves! They need lots of layering to keep things interesting!
EDIT EDIT EDIT!
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is when you are done decorating something WALK AWAY! Move away from it and don’t concentrate on it for awhile! Do something else and forget about your design! If you can do something completely non decorating related… even better. Give you mind a chance to rest a bit. This is a great time to fold laundry or read or dust!
After a few hours return to you decorating project at hand and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes! YOU WILL BE AMAZED! You will be able to see things that you would never have noticed while you were deep in the process of creating a beautiful space!
Now with those fresh eyes… edit a little more. Move something that seems to be a little out of place. Take away something that make your overall design seems crowded.
Edit and then forget it… move along! If needed you can come back later and edit again until you think your shelves (or whatever you are creating) is right for YOU!
GIVE YOURSELF SOME CREDIT!
I think many home decorators are so hard on themselves! Most of us didn’t go to design school (including me) but just by your interest in reading this post shows that you are learning about decorating! GOOD FOR YOU! Practice and everyday decorating counts too!
We have earned our design degree by the school of experience!
Please remember this…. more important than great design is great personal style! We can all copy a great design but the magic happens when we can infuse our own signature style into a design.
Don’t doubt yourself! Be bold! You CAN do it… and do it with panache! I say, “YOU GO GIRL!”