making a shelf both functional and pretty every time –

making a shelf both functional and pretty every time

home sweet home, project diy, Styling

My hubby and I decided to make a little video for you today. We did a stop-motion video; it was so much fun. We laughed a lot throughout the whole process. Especially when my big head would cast shadows when I thought I was completely out of the frame. Poor Jason, he’s so patient with me. Anyway, any videos I ever post on the blog can easily be found here on Youtube. I haven’t put up much but I plan to share more on my channel this year so be sure to follow along and subscribe!

Well today I wanted to share with you how I style a shelf, make it functional, and break it down the fool proof way. I am no expert at shelf styling, but I can say I have had my fair share of struggling with styling a shelf and would end up unhappy. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it was mainly because it wasn’t balanced or it just wasn’t functional. Can you relate?

When styling, you want to start with a blank slate. Start fresh. First let’s consider the space.

Where is this shelf? Is it in the kitchen, the bath room or bedroom? A shelf will be used differently in different spaces. It’ll help in deciding what pieces you want displayed. Once you decide on where you’re styling, we can move on. This shelf is in the living room. This is also a super affordable self found at Ikea here.

Now you can choose a color scheme or theme.

What colors, textures, theme are you going for? Today I’m using white, grey, and natural elements. If you need help in deciding what you’re going for, look around at what you already have going on in the room and pull inspiration from what’s already there.

The most important thing is function.

What is the purpose of the shelf? Like I said, this shelf is in the living room. I want it to be able to hold extra pillows, blankets, magazines that people can grab if they’d like, a place to store things that my kids are currently playing with regularly. Right now there’s educational card games and puzzles inside 2 boxes because they have been doing school in here and they’ve been starting their mornings with these lately and it’s easier to reach for them right here then in the homeschool closet. Due to the fact that it’s out in a main living space, I don’t want all these things out in the open so that’s where hidden storage comes to play.

You can use boxes, bins, wine crates, baskets or something to house and hide those random items or just items you don’t necessarily want displayed. These were all purchased at Ikea. I didn’t realize how much Ikea pieces I was using here. No surprise though, right?!

On to groupings. I mix and match items that are small, medium and large. You dont want all small items or all large items because that just wouldn’t be easy on the eyes nor would it look balanced.

So now that you’ve collected your items, we can start styling. Remember, it’s ok to have more than what is actually going to make it to the shelf. It’s fun to have more choices so you can see what you’re really loving together.

Remember, we want function and style.

Generally, the storage to house those items I want to remain hidden are going to be my “large” items. These are usually the items I put out first.

Next we start adding in the “medium” sized pieces. Here, those could be frame, vases, plants, and things like that. Generally it will be the pieces smaller than the storage pieces but larger than accent pieces.


Then we start layering in the “small” accent pieces which usually adds a little character.

Think groupings that aren’t overbearing but appealing to the eye. You don’t want it to look crowded and squished!


Don’t forget about height! If there’s a lot of negative space on one side of a shelf and then all the other shelves are all filled and tall, it’s not going to look very balanced. Here, I used magazines on hand to add height. You can also use books, an antique scale, a little cake stand.. Be creative. That’s why I love styling shelves so much. It’s easy to change it up without having to patch up holes or spending any money!

Above, notice without the magazines. Now look below with the added height. Much better!

Finally, EDIT. EDIT. EDIT. My biggest tip is as you’re styling, step back every few changes and see if you’re liking where you’re going with it. If you’re not feeling it, move things around until you like it. Really, just have fun with it!

The above photo shows the shelf without the “small” pieces. Down below I finally layered the shelf with just a small enclosed woven basket and some wood beads as little accents. Subtle, yes, but doesn’t it look more complete.

And really, this is just a rule of thumb on how I go about styling my shelves! Are these absolutes? Absolutely not! I definitely step outside the box at times and simply use these basics as my guide. For me, I can be heavy handed with these things, so for me I have to practice restraint in not doing too much. Are you a minimalist by nature or a maximalist. I think there’s beauty in both. I just try to find that happy medium!

So who’s ready to style some shelves?! Hope this helped some of you today or even inspired some of you to go back to that shelf you pass every day and think “blah”. You know the shelf! LOL!

Well thanks so much for being here. If you enjoy these posts, be sure to subscribe down below and follow me in between on Instagram. My goal this year is to be able to connect more on here with you all and share more of the home, our ongoing  projects, and things that I love and inspire me and hopefully can inspire you also! That’s it for today but I’ll see you right here soon! Exciting things are coming! I’ll be sharing soon enough!

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