Shelf Styling Tips That Are Actually Helpful

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hobby Lobby. All opinions are 100% mine.

Discover tips and tricks to perfectly shape your shelves. Whether you’re decorating open shelves in the kitchen, a coffee table, bookshelves, a mantel, or any other area, these basic principles will help you create a pleasing display in your home.

how to decorate open shelves in the kitchen

I love the open shelves in our kitchen. They are one of my favorite places to decorate! Since I’ve taken on the challenge of decorating shelves consistently, I’ve gathered some tips and tricks and will share them all with you today!

It can be difficult to put these ideas into words and I don’t pretend to be a professional. I’ve just had many friends who have asked for help on this subject over the years, so hopefully this will be helpful to you as you try to make your home a home. And please remember that if it makes you happy and you love it, that’s “right”.

Shelf styling tips and tricks

Create zigzag lines

When drawing a shelf, if you’ve drawn an imaginary line between the tops of each item, the goal is to have it do a zigzag pattern. This creates visual interest and keeps the eye moving around the vignette.

shelf styling tips

Distribute color

Color is a powerful way to unify any decor. In this photo, you can see how the rich blue color spreads across the shelves and counter. This makes the design cohesive and unified. You can definitely use more than one color, just think about where each colored object is placed relative to other objects of the same color.

shelf styling tricks distribute color

Repeat elements

Another way to unify a collection is to repeat certain elements. For this exhibition I used many elements in wood and white ceramic and once again I tried to distribute them evenly over the whole area. If all the pieces of wood were on the same shelf or on one side, the design would look lopsided.

how to model open shelves

Create levels

Instead of lining up all your objects in a row, try creating layers. A wooden charger behind a blue plate behind a jar full of blueberries adds a lot of visual depth. If you look closely at the photo of the entire shelf, you will see that almost everything is behind or in front of something else.

tips for decorating the house stack objects

Stack objects

Stacking objects on top of each other is another way to add interest to a display. A vase on top of a stack of plates, finger bowls on top of a tea towel, a smaller bowl set within a larger one … these are all examples of stacking and add so much character to the design.

how to decorate the kitchen with stacked items

Add living elements

I kill plants, so I buy fake plants! If you have a green thumb, you are in luck. Add real plants to your cartoons! But for the rest of us, anything organic, green, and growing will bring your display to life … even if your plant is made of plastic and technically dead. LOL.Succulents, textured ferns, cacti, topiaries, bushy greens, leafy wreaths, dried flowers or flowers all give the display color and texture and life.

the style of the shelf adds greenery

Stand back and criticize

It took me a good hour to get everything on this shelf just the way I wanted it. I would put things back, then I would stand back and watch it, then make some changes, then take a step back and criticize it again. I kept moving things around and making changes until everything felt balanced, cohesive, full but not cluttered and somehow “right”.

create a cartoon in the kitchen

Use the things you love

You can do all of the steps listed above, but if you don’t use the items you really love, the design will come out flat. Those stacked white vintage Pyrex bowls are making my knees go weak. I’ve been obsessed with blue and white designs for years. That stack of plates? They were a wedding present. I LOVE the things I put on display, so even if I get some technicalities wrong, I guarantee you I’ll smile every time I look at these shelves.

We finished renovating our kitchen several years ago and my shelves have been pretty much the same style ever since (although I change the decor for the holidays). I was ready for a change, so I went shopping spree in the hobby lobby. The Hobby Lobby Spring Shop collection was full of great pieces. I seriously thought about probably ten different vibes that I could have gone with. In the end, navy blue and white with wood pops won out and once I got that attention, I found so many great pieces all over the store.

floating wooden kitchen shelves

Just to summarize, my tips for decorating shelves are:

  1. Create zigzag lines
  2. Distribute color
  3. Repeat elements
  4. Create levels
  5. Stack objects
  6. Add living elements
  7. Stand back and criticize
  8. Use the things you love

Here’s a full list of sources for everything I’ve used in my shelf style in case there’s something you’re dying to get your hands on. If it’s not listed below, it’s an antique or heirloom item or it is only available in-store at the Hobby Lobby.


Hope these tips help you next time you have some shelves to decorate. If you have any questions, I’m always happy to help!