With “shelfie” a permanent fixture in the urban dictionary (we’d call it the design-obsessed’s answer to the selfie) and a long-trending hot hashtag on Instagram, if your shelves and sideboards don’t look photo-shoot ready you probably feel at least a little inadequate.
Not any more. With online inspo aplenty – plus these expert tips and tricks – you’ll be looking at clutter and bric-a-brac in an entirely new light before you know it. And remember to spread the love, It’s not just coffee tables and mantels that should enjoy the stylist’s spotlight – in our world any shelf, surface or spare space is a potential opportunity to play. Just know that once you start, it’s mighty hard to stop.
Books aren’t just books
In fact, they’re a stylist’s dream. Pile them up to add height, colour code them, stack to create platforms to highlight odd ornaments, prop up individually to show off dishy covers, experiment with horizontal and vertical combinations and pick those with the best-looking spines to line up between a pair of glam or vintage bookends for instant literary – and style – cred.
Quirky is queen
Personal props, flea market finds and random designer treasures build the mood, tell a story and are the key to stating your individual interior style. Anyone can copy a magazine spread item for item, but not everyone can mix a monkey, a first edition, your grandpa’s vintage camera, a faux cactus and a Babushka doll collection like you can.
Green is very, very good
Real or faux depending on your green (or grey) thumb, a little lush greenery or artificial floral finesse adds something neat and natural (even if it’s not) to a bookshelf, buffet, credenza or console. Use cascading foliage high on a bookshelf to draw the eye upwards, or make a single branch or bloom in a vase the hero of a floating shelf display.
Let there be light
Lamps, mini-light boxes and candles of all shapes and sizes add a softer dimension to any decorating display – and make sure it doesn’t disappear after dark!
Forget food – trays are for treasures
A rustic timber, mirrored, metallic or brightly-hued tray will ground any display, setting the parameters to plonk your pretty pieces (ok be a bit more artful than that). What’s more, it’s makes your creation portable and ready for relocation at a moment’s notice.
Make it with metallics
A dash of metallic – gold, nickel, antique silver, brass – either shiny or in the latest matte tones will glam up any arrangement. Mix and match your metals or tie in with other elements in the room, such as overhead lighting, lamp bases, clocks or bookends for a more cohesive vibe.
Add a surprising seasonal element to your shelves to make it relevant and rustic. Make a conch shell your focal piece or incorporate a mason jar full of sand or mismatched shells to signal the start of summer, curate a collection of twigs and pine cones to channel an autumn vibe, use pastel or gold-painted eggs with faux flowers to kick into spring, and mix and silver with white branches to recreate a wintry mood.
Art is for everywhere
We love a bit of unexpected art, especially when it’s not on the wall. Lean individual prints in between reads on the bookshelf or use a plate stand to show them off atop your sideboard or floating shelf.
If you’re a little hesitant to indulge your colour crush on a big ticket item – such as a purple sofa – use your shelves to express your purple passion instead. Divine displays in different rooms are the ideal outlet to play interior designer for a day. Use different shades of the one colour for a safer scheme, or go riotous and random with a mish-mash of bold brights (that’s what we’d do anyhow).
Whether you’re a doyen of designer displays or a nervous novice, shelves and sideboards (or bedsides, coffee tables, credenzas) are ideal for experimenting and expressing yourself. And, if you’re still not sure, just grab something from each of the sections above – grab a candle, a personal trinket, something metallic, a small artwork or photo, some foliage, something seasonal and pop it in a tray – and take a shelfie.