• Anna Neal

Shelf Styling Essentials

We style a LOT of shelves in our staging projects and while each set of shelves looks a little bit different, we definitely use a bit of a formula when pulling the look together. One of the easiest items to use in shelves is books - coffee table books, old text books or even your favorite page turners. We use hard covered books for shelf styling and typically pull off the paper covers to expose the colored spines. If you're a bit embarrassed about the titles (guilty!), you can always turn the books backwards and show the pages, not the spines. We definitely do this in many staging projects as we don't want a potential buyer to be dissuaded because of a book title. If you are low on books, check out your local Goodwill stores. They oftentimes have a huge amount of books and you can pay by the inch of the stack.

Once we have a pretty large quantity of books, we add in a handful of other "ingredients" to the mix. Our goal when styling shelves is to create a cohesive look, with varying colors, heights and textures. It takes some time and we often edit each others' work, but with the right mix of decorative objects, a well-styled shelf can be a show stopper. Our favorite items to include in shelf styling include small plants, vases, stacks of boxes and decorative accessory toppers.


We use faux plants throughout our staging projects - our use of plants is definitely a trademark of our staging style. Plants are a great way to add a pop of color to your shelves and bring an element of nature into the mix. If you are able to keep real plants alive, great, if not, here are some great faux options.

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We pack about a million decorative accessories for each staging project. These little accents can go anywhere and everywhere. We particularly love them on a stack of coffee table books or as a statement piece on the shelf. When we talk about the different elements we try to achieve in shelf styling, these decorative objects are perfect for a touch of texture or shine - like a wood dough bowl or a brass paperweight. You can never have too many objects, check out some of our favorites below.

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We love a good vase of flowers, but to be honest, an empty vase can be just as beautiful. We love to style shelves with various vases and jugs. Taller vases are perfect to add some height in your shelves and you can find vases in just about every color and texture so it's an easy way to create some contrast in the mix. Here are some vases that would look amazing in your shelves.

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A stack of decorative boxes are perfect for a shelf because they take up quite a bit of space (thus less stuff needed) and whether or not you store items in the boxes, they give a personal touch to the design - like you can open one up to a pile of family photos or long lost letters. Here are some cute decorative boxes to jazz up your shelves.

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Shelf styling shouldn't be intimidating or too expensive. Start by taking a lap around your house to gather some fun accessories and books. From there, just sprinkle in a few pops of color and some different heights and textures. Start small, you can always add more and like us, rearrange at any time!