How to Style Open Shelving

Urban 57 Home Decor & Interior Design |

With kids back in school and the holidays around the corner, it’s a good time toget organized and keepyour home looking it’s best. Open shelving is a top design trend and you’d be surprised how multifaceted they are.

Your shelves are more than a place to collect dust and store only books. Our designers here at Urban 57 Home Décor & Design have put together the top 5rules for staging the prefect shelf:

  1. Scale Back– Keep items on your shelves to a minimum! Too much on a single shelf can feel cluttered. Start by removing everything and pair down as much as possible.Try shopping your home (or come visit us!) and find a few transitional items that can give the eye a resting point. Look for items like potted plants, architectural objects, andframed art or photos. Find the balance between functional and appealing.
  2. Work from the outside in – Start by adding tall items on the ends. Whether it’s a vase with flowers or a tall picture frame, this gives height and balance to your arrangements.
  3. Fill in the gaps – Layer in smaller objects and add some depth. Set larger frames behind smaller ones and play with texture to layer in a seasonal look or showcase your personality.
  4. Remember the rule of 3’s – Our eye likes to see things grouped together. While a grouping of 3 is not a must, play around with items of a similar color, size, or shape! Use layering techniquesto create a unified look byvarying the height of objects to add depth.
  5. Arrange and rearrange – Sometimes you just need to walk away and come back to it later. Designing a space can feel overwhelming and with a fresh perspective, you may see something new that you hadn’t seen before! Try moving things around and snapping a quick photo until it just starts to feel right.

In addition to these basic rules, your home reflects how you live,and functionality is important. Keep an open mind about what canlive on shelves. Here’s a few examples.

Kitchens/Dining/Great Rooms

  • Break up the monotony of too many books by removing some, stacking and sorting by color and size to keep the overall look attractive
  • Lean framed prints and family photos and layer in a few sizes
  • Display a collection and show off what you have from china to pottery
  • Remember scale and use objects that fit the size of the space, so your eye catches it when you walk into the room and keeps things from feeling messy


  • Keep bathroom shelves clean, organized and don’t overcrowd the space
  • Use unique shelving with an interesting shape that can double as wall décor
  • Guest bathrooms are a perfect place to set out fresh towels and display them in an attractive way
  • Don’t underestimate candles!  They add instant ambiance
  • Orchids or other living plants bring life, sophistication and interest to shelves

Children’s Rooms

  • Offer kids a calming atmosphere and display select toys and books to keep clutter at bay
  • Rotate things out and keep kids engaged by changing up toys every few weeks
  • Stack special books together by size or color to keep it interesting
  • Use small baskets or containers for loose items and teach kids where cleanup needs to happen

Need some inspiration or guidance on styling your perfect #shelfie? Come see us or give us a call!

-Urban 57 Home Décor & Design Team