The best shelving ideas will make displaying and storing items – be that in the garage, kitchen or living room – a breeze. Ideal to add color and personality, whether you're #shelfie(ing) or not, these looks don't all need brackets (or a drill for that matter) so are easy and inexpensive to recreate at home.
- How to put up a shelf – with or without brackets!
Annica Wallin, Executive Creative Director at Desenio (opens in new tab) says 'A great way to make a shelf feel professionally styled is to create a vignette – an arrangement of favourite things such as vases and sculptures. This is a perfect way to elevate your art picks. I suggest layering your art pieces in pairs, choosing two different sizes, and grouping them with your favourite home accessories. It’s so easy, but creates a beautiful result!'
1. Bookcase shelves
Transform standard bookcase shelving into an indoor garden by interspersing long, trailing house plants – a hanging fern or spider plant are great options – amongst books, ornaments and other belongings. The contrast of somewhat unruly plants with a shelving unit that's well organized is what's most effective, so don't be afraid to let your greenery get a little out of hand.
- DIY projects you can do in a day.
2. Shiplap wall shelf
With shelving ideas, a good place to start is by deciding on a color scheme for your accessories to tie the look together. Warm shades, like yellow and orange, are an on-trend option guaranteed to add depth and interest to a light colored room.
The accessories used to style this mantlepiece against the shiplap wall are quite eclectic, but the consistent use of warm, yellow tones ties the look together nicely. Take a look around your home and see if there are any items that you might be able to pair together to recreate a similar look. Then it'll be a free #shelfie, too.
- See more: How to DIY wall panels.
3. Countertop shelf
Functional and cute, even a narrow shelf fitted above your countertops will help tie your kitchen design together and provides a fine opportunity to show off your best dinnerware and hanging plants too. This look was create by Amanda Cotton @houselust (opens in new tab).
- See all our: Kitchen ideas.
4. Antique shelf ideas
If you're a renter who loves all gallery wall ideas – but doesn't love the idea of facing a landlord's wrath after you've drilled countless holes to hang said gallery wall – consider taking the principles of hanging one and applying them to your shelf styling, instead.
A great way to showcase collections – be that mirrors, antique tea cups, prints or, in this case, plates – opting for a mix of pieces from a similar time period or that are similar in size can be a great way to create a finish that's not overly-styled. This is particularly successful if you layer certain pieces and don't pay too much attention to the precision of your spacing.
5. Peg shelf
Quite the classic and still a winner for a pared-back, Scandi-esque look. Complete your DIY shelf with trinkets and some easy reading material.
6. Layered bracket shelving ideas
You might think this decorative shelving is accidental, but the the minimalist feel of this is quite purposeful. The limited, neutral color palette and natural materials create a contemporary feel that nods at period living, while interest is added through the use of complementary materials, metal white brackets, textures and different shapes placed haphazardly, but intentionally.
7. Macramé shelving
Budget-friendly, cute and useful, sure these won't take a heavy load, but they will style a room.
- See more: Living room ideas.
8. Seamless mantlepiece shelf ideas
Painted in the same color as the rest of the wall, this terracotta mantlepiece shelving masterpiece feels built-in seamlessly, taking this space to a new level of artistic high design. Complete with black accents and natural textures for depth.
9. Wire shelving
Perfect garage storage ideas and cute in a simple hallway design scheme too, metal wired shelving units are inexpensive and give a great industrial feel to a space also.
10. Layered and multicolored shelving
Katie Mack of @candycoloredhome (opens in new tab) shows the world how to take color everywhere. Orange and yellow shelf ideas like these will energize any and every space, providing a great view also if built in your WFH desk sightline.
11. Woven suspended shelf
Got some woven fibres or rope hanging around? Use it to DIY a modern suspended shelf for a cool pop of natural materials that will provide a great contrast against bright and eclectic interiors. Combine with MDF for an easy and functional finish.
12. Classic wooden shelves
The power of effective shelving ideas is often in its simplicity, particularly if you're working with a room that already has a lot going on, color and texture-wise.
Grouping minimal accessories of similar bulk– for example a small stack of books with similar spine colors, ceramics or vases – regularly across the entirety of a unit successfully strikes the balance between adding interest and preventing your shelving unit from looking too sparse or too crowded, without any one thing becoming a focal point.
13. Make a feature of shelving with bunting
Styling a solid bookshelf or shelving enclosed by a cabinet can be a little more tricky as these spaces tend to be a little darker, plus they're naturally less dramatic than an open shelving unit. That doesn't mean they should go without a little #shelfie love, though.
Use bunting – or fairy lights – to draw attention to your shelf styling and make it more of a feature. Ditsy florals or polka dots make the perfect addition to a home with a cute, country cottage feel, while more contemporary homes could benefit from neutral linens, or even pops of bright color.
14. DIY wall shelf
In a room that's overlooked, an open shelving unit, styled with see-through or semi-transparent items is a good way to create privacy – without going for bulky window treatments.
House plants are an easy and effective option that will (quite literally) inject life into an otherwise plain room, but you could just as easily replace house plants with a display of colorful glassware.
15. Built-in shelving
Much like when you're composing a gallery wall, you might find that you have one particular item – be that a piece of artwork, a stand-out ornament, or in this case, a monogram – that means something to you and can form the focal point for the rest of your decorative shelving.
The trick to ensuring attention is drawn to your desired point is spacing. The contrast of quite densely packed shelving surrounding a more spacious centre point draws the eye and gives the display room to breathe.
- See more: Book storage ideas
16. Go for irregular shelf styling
So you want to create that styled, but not obviously styled #shelfie look? Well, believe it or not, irregularity is key. Rather than grouping similar items together, as we've suggested in previous points, try dispersing them, seemingly randomly, across a larger shelf space, as it's this mix of shapes, patterns and textures that will create the laid back feel you're looking for.
Try thinking a little outside the box when it comes to positioning, could stacks of books, or even individual items, be positioned horizontally, vertically? In clusters, on top of each other, or all on their own?
A great starting point may, actually, be just to put all your belongings on your shelves, randomly, to see how they fall. After that, you can tweak bits, here and there, until you achieve an outcome you're happy with.
17. Leaning shelving
If your style is a little more relaxed or you like an unfitted look, opt for a wire rack shelving unit that can be propped up against a wall, and styled at random, just like this one. Or, pick a regular shelving unit and create a display that's non-uniform. This is a great way to get in some shelving if you are renting and therefor can't hang shelves on your walls.
18. Go for a neat shelf display for a streamlined space
If yours is a busy space, picking a color scheme for your shelving is one trick to help the room feel tidier; another clever way, as here, is to create a shelf display that's regularly spaced, with items of the same size on show. We've already mentioned them more than once, but house plants really are one of the easiest additions to a well styled shelf.
This gorgeous kitchen extension was designed by George & James Architects (opens in new tab) .
19. Use styled open shelving to zone a space
Decorative shelves can also be used to effectively zone an open-plan space, without compromising the spacious feel that many of us crave. Opt for an open shelving unit which creates a subtle divide between zones, without restricting light or flow within the space. Decorate with houseplants, books or ornaments made from natural materials for the perfect shelf decor.
20. Balance out a #shelfie with shapes and textures
To style a shelf effectively, you'll need to think about how to create balance with the accessories you're working with. While pairing lots of the same thing together – as we've seen in previous examples – can create a standout look, striking the balance with lots of different objects can create a desirable outcome, too.
Most successfully styled shelves are comprised of a combination of books, glassware, ceramics, house plants and other ornaments, so take a look around your home for items that might work together, or keep this combination in mind when shopping.
21. Color-match wall-to-wall shelves for a formal feel
Floor to ceiling bookshelves make something of an impact in a space with high ceilings; particularly when styled with books organiszd by color. Start by splitting books into categories determined by cover color; then experiment with stacking them vertically or horizontally to create an interesting look, overall.
22. Upcycled medicine cabinet shelf
The perfect weekend project for the DIYers amongst us, adding a pretty backdrop – which could be made from something as simple as wrapping paper – to your decorative shelving is one of the easiest ways to make your display stand out.
Light colored papers can be particularly effective if you're working with a shelving unit that feels a little dark and dingy. Or, if you're a renter who loves the idea of using wallpaper to inject personality into your space, but know that your landlord would be less enthusiastic.
23. Floating and eclectic
In a modern home, you can get away with styling shelves with an eclectic mix of prints, home accessories and other bits and bobs. In fact, the more random the selection, the better, in many instances.
Here, having shelves in the same dark tone as the walls ensures all attention is drawn to the shelves' accessories. Anyone else spot the troll doll..? It's a love or hate look.
How can I make a shelf look good, inexpensively?
'When filling a shelf it’s easier to start with a focal point, like the EVEDAL (opens in new tab) lamp, and then build up a display around it using objects and artwork of varying heights and textures. By sticking to one colour palette you’ll find that the display comes together more fluidly. Choose a neutral base like the BESTÅ (opens in new tab) shelves, this way you can mix things up by incorporating different materials and different sized accessories. One important tip is to display objects in odd numbers – it’s said to be more pleasing to the eye!' Says Clotilde Passalacqua, Interior designer manager Uk&IE at IKEA.