There is no right answer when it comes to shelf styling. According to creative director Orlando Soria, it's a matter of playing and experimenting... and following these four steps.
Photos by Tessa Neustadt.
Shelf styling is something clients ask me about all the time. Mainly because it can be intimidating and confusing to people who don’t spend their lives doing it professionally. But the thing is, quality styling is much more a result of experimenting and exploring options than knowing exactly what you’re doing. Whenever I put together shelves, I basically just keep playing around, moving objects and experimenting with new compositions, until I am happy and satisfied with the look of the shelfie. (Of course, if you’re still intimidated, you can always hire a Homepolish designer to play around FOR you. WINK!).
Shelves tend to un-style themselves over time and need a refresh every once in a while. This happens because people pick things up and look at them and put them back in the wrong place, because they don’t pay attention to detail like you do, because you’re perfect. Holiday styling, in particular, gives you a chance to make sure your shelf styling is still tip-top and give it some festive flair at the same time. (Without resorting to an elf-on-the-shelf, which I’m convinced are simply ways to terrorize children.) While experimenting and play are key to creating the best shelfscapes, there are some rules and tips that will help you achieve the perfect composition for your space. Follow along as I reveal the most important secrets I’ve learned over the years!
1. Start with empty shelves
This will not only give you the opportunity to wipe down each shelf and make sure they are dust-free before you begin, but it will also make sure you keep an open mind about where items could be placed throughout the shelves. Make sure to keep stepping back (far enough to see all the shelves) as you go, so you can really see the composition.
2. Add art and books first
Art and books take up the most visual (and literal) space on your shelves, so adding them first allows you to scatter them in a balanced manner throughout. This doesn’t necessarily mean everything should be symmetrical. The art and books should be placed in a way that helps the eye move around the shelving. Be sure to leave white/blank space too.
3. Add in everyday sculptural objects
Having everyday sculptures, pottery, and vintage items will help your shelfscape look more current and in keeping with the décor of the rest of your house. Make sure you place these items in a way that leaves space for the holiday pieces you plan to incorporate. As with the books and art, make sure you’re leaving spaces for holiday accents in a balanced manner. It’s all about that balance, people!
4. Add in holiday cheer, being conscious of color
While holiday objects will be the last part to your shelfscape, you should be thoughtful about how color is spread around the shelves. For example, I used red as an accent color, making sure to add some on the right, some on the left, some in the middle, and some on each level of the shelves (top, middle, bottom). Since these bright hits immediately draw your eye, making sure they’re well organized on the shelves will ensure that there is a natural visual path through your shelf composition.
For more about overall shelf composition (YEAR ROUND!), check out our designer Angela Belt’s article.