How To Style The Perfect Shelfie

Designing a shelfie, can be daunting at first but is ultimately a fun and easy process when you know what to do. With just a little bit of planning, your ultimate reward will be a display that is both beautiful and unique.

So, let your artistic juices flow and let’s get started as I share with you the shelfie tips that I use with my Fairfield and Westchester clients. Know that when I use the term shelfies, I’m referring to ALL shelves whether they be floor-to-ceiling built-ins, a bookcase, or even a single floating shelf.


Think about adding a contrasting but complementary color to the back of your shelves for added depth and visual interest. This is easy to accomplish with a simple coat of paint or with wallpaper which can add texture as well.

Survey your decor items and decide on a color palette. For designer appeal, limit it to a few shades that are complementary but feel free to use a combination of any and all colors. Sometimes the objects we want to display don’t fit into one color scheme, especially the meaningful ones.

Before you begin, empty everything off the shelves so you can start with a fresh and clean canvas.

from kellydesigns
from kellydesigns


Set aside the large heavy items to use as base objects upon which you will build your display. Spread these items throughout your shelves, paying attention to balance.

Next, separate the taller decor items and place those. Keep in mind that pieces greater than one-half the height of the shelf work best. Plants, vases, and artwork are good options.

Finally, fill in the shelves with groupings that work well together in terms of style, height, color, and tone.

from Mali Azima for HGTV
from Mali Azima for HGTV


Use books as your heavier items and situate them both horizontal and vertical throughout. Take it a step further and use the colors of your books as prominent cornerstones of your vignettes. For a big impact, use books of similar colors by covering them with uniform pieces of paper or gift wrap or by purchasing a set from Etsy. Also, if you need it, this is a very simple way to bring some color or pattern into your space.

Alternate heights and color throughout using photos and pieces of art to fill empty spaces. I also like to add depth by layering objects in front of one another. This is a strategic way to use your smaller items.

from Studio Mcgee, Etsy & Etsy
from Studio Mcgee, Etsy & Etsy

Pro Tricks

Don't expect to place your items on the shelf one time and be done with it. This is a fluid process. I take photos while I am creating a shelfie so I can visualize the different arrangements I've made. This way I can easily determine which placements I like best without having to start from scratch.

Create a nice flow for your eyes to naturally follow. I accomplish this by using objects of similar sizes and shapes and placing them throughout.

Don't over crowd your shelfie or else it will take away from the overall appeal. In this case, less is more!

from Kathleen Forbush for HGTV
from Kathleen Forbush for HGTV

Now that you know how to style your shelves, will you get in on the trend and post your work with the hashtag #shelfie? If you do, don't forget to tag me @kellydesignsofct so I can see what you've done. 🙂 And as always, you can reach out to me anytime for help.

from elements of style
from elements of style

Some additional reading:

For ongoing inspiration make sure you are following me on Facebook and Instagram.

If you want some assistance ......

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