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  • Jo@Colours

Getting 'Shelf'ish

Design tips to achieve an expertly styled look.

Remove that clutter

Some believe that more is more and less is a bore, others believe the more items you have, the less impact each item will make. Either way clutter is clutter. Removing everything to start with, not only gives you a blank canvas but removes the temptation to keep that vase in that position because its always been there.

Room at the back

Drawing attention to the back of a space creates a sense of depth. For built in shelves and bookcases, try using accent wallpaper or paint to create a contrast. Place larger, eye catching pieces or artwork further back to draw the eye in.

Balancing act

Visual weight (how things balance to your eye) plays a big part in getting the expertly styled look. Too crowded and it will look like every hellish gift shop you try to avoid when you have kids in tow, too sparse and the shelf will look empty and unfinished. Play about with symmetry and height, set objects at an angle and/or off centre. Create groups of items - our eye will naturally seek to group similar items, try grouping complimentary shapes or colours together for more impact.


Place larger art work at the back, no need to hang, simply lean against the wall, open shelving can make a fantastic base for a gallery. Try layering and overlapping pictures. Smaller pictures can be displayed atop a stack of books or in a decorative tray.

Its aliiiiiiive

Plants are great for filling space, breaking up lines with their gorgeous leafiness and BONUS they have health benefits too!

There are so many shapes, sizes, colours and textures to choose from and a plant to suit any environment. Spend time researching the kind of leafy loveliness that thrives in the the space you have - dark corner with limited natural light or a sunny aspect - there is an abundance of options.

And if you really don't have a green thumb, fake it.

Lighten up

Think past the functional element (see what I did there) of lighting.

Lighting is not only functional but can create great focal points, become a decorative element in itself or add depth to your shelfie.

A statement lamp can make a stunning, eye-catching decorative piece but what about the light from the lamp? What about a standard lamp or spotlight directed TO your shelf to help it become a focus in the room. Lighting hung low around a shelf or draped from the shelf or simply tiny led lights filling a bowl can add depth and drama to those forgotten corners.

Stand back

THE most important step is to stand back, assess and edit.

Move things about, play with compositions, remove and/or add. Take your time, don't be afraid to leave space at first.

Start with just a few pieces and if, over time, it still feels bare, add new items a couple at a time until you find the balance you like.

Make it yours

I lied, THIS is the most important step. Above all else, make it yours.

Your room should be a reflection of you, an extension of your personality, so your shelfie should too. Don't be afraid to try things, experiment. These are not hard and fast rules, just hints and tips. Have fun, go wild, put that vase at a jaunty angle!

Don't forget to send in your shelfie or get in touch if you would like one to one advice.

See you next time

J x

Step by Step

Gather - collect books, artwork, decorative objects and plants

Start Large - place larger items first. These are your anchor points

Play with composition - mix things up, stack, drape, overlap, layer

Review - take your time to find the balance that suits you

Have fun!

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