Today over at Amanda’s blog, Serenity Now, she hosted a Decorating Dilemmas party. Participants linked up with areas of their home that wanted help with. One participant needed help arranging some display shelves; I really got into that and practically wrote her a book in reply.
That got me thinking that it would be fun to take a look at some shelf displays and point out some tips and ideas. Now, I am in no way an expert on this; I just enjoy it and I’ve done it many times. There are no hard and fast rules.
My friend Dixie has these built-ins on either side of her fireplace. Many years ago (like, 12) I spent a day at her house helping her accessorize them with things she already had. We shopped her house and laid things all around us and started picking and choosing and grouping. This picture was taken within the last year, so some things have changed in 12 years, and some have not.
I’m going to point out a couple of things in the above photo. On the right side, 2nd shelf from the top is a collection of clocks. As the pile of stuff around us grew, we noticed there were several clocks, and then we decided to look around the house for more. It’s not as easy to see, but there is also a collection of paper weights on the 4th shelf down. Group like with like.
Books feature prominently. Notice that some are vertical by height, and some are stacked horizontally with an item displayed on top of the stack. Use books to add and vary the height of displays. I often buy books at thrift stores just for display purposes.
Below is the living room of our red house, before we bought it, with the previous owners’ stuff. This isn’t my style, but I think it works. The collection of large duck decoys is dispersed throughout the display and gives a bit of a theme. In this case, if they were all grouped together it would be too heavy. Also notice how they aren’t all facing the same direction.
Here is the same shelf, left side, after my sister helped me paint and arrange our things. You know what, I don’t think this is my style anymore, either! However, we can get a couple of things here. Three clocks, one on each shelf, kind of a theme again. They also zig-zag from side to side; if they were all positioned to one side of the shelves it wouldn’t look right. On the middle shelf, a few teapots and a creamer are grouped together, creating a little collection (like with like). Books are used for height.
Here are the shelves I helped Dixie arrange last fall. The same principles apply. Obviously like with like. This was meant to be a very cohesive collection of white dishes.
Height is varied: notice the sugar bowl set on top of another little dish which is place upside down as a pedestal. Also note how on the bottom shelf the teapots slope down from tallest to shortest. The candlesticks and bowl on the opposite end do the same, as do the pitchers on the top shelf.
Below is a photo from Better Homes and Gardens.
Above, we can see:
- like with like the white dishes grouped together in the middle of the 2nd shelf up, and echoed on each of the shelves above it, as well the rustic bowls on the bottom shelf
- books vertically, and horizontally used to add height to objects
And a couple I haven’t mentioned yet:
- framed art or photos either leaning against the back, or as in my first photo of Dixie’s shelves, hanging on the back wall
- plate(s) either on an easel as here and on Dixie’s shelves, or hanging on the back wall
Well, this was not exhaustive by any means, nor are any of my displays perfect, but I hope you were able to pick up a few helpful ideas for your shelf displays!