How to Style Built-In Shelves

One of my favorite things to decorate in our home is shelves and built-ins. It’s always tricky and is a process, but once it’s done I love being able to take a step back and seeing my vision come to life.

Styling shelves (especially built-ins!) can be daunting, I get it! After styling the shelves in our home over and over again, I’ve finally found the equation for making the process just a little bit easier. If you’ve been putting off styling the shelves in your home and need a little guidance, I’m here to help! Today, we’ll be diving into exactly how to style built-in shelves with ease (and exactly how I style my shelves!).

How to Style Built-In Shelves
neutral built in styling tips
How to Style Built-In Shelves
home decor tips

How to Style Built-In Shelves

Start with a Blank Canvas

No matter what shelves I’m styling, I always like to start with a blank canvas. By removing everything you currently have on your shelves will allow you to see the space you’re working with and makes it easier to move things around.

Once you’ve removed everything from your shelves, take a step back and envision what you want your shelves to look like and the pieces of decor you want to see in the design.

How to Style Built-In Shelves

Gather Decorative Items

Now that you have everything off your shelves, take a look at what you’re working with and group your objects by size. Once you start styling, having your decor objects grouped by size will make it easier to see a common thread and place these objects in a way that flows.

How to Style Built-In Shelves
How to Style Built-In Shelves

Create a Base

When you start placing objects, always start with the largest ones first! This will help you create a base for your design and create focal points on the shelves. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend utilizing objects like vases, baskets, bowls, and art to add substance and visual weight. When placing these items, make sure to stagger them to create balance!

Create Small Groupings

I always find placing the small items to be the hardest part of the styling process but it really helps bring everything together. In the spaces where your large objects don’t occupy, add in your small items (love this wooden knot sculpture!). This can look like stacking books, adding small boxes, and creating groupings of two or three similar items.

This is also when I go in and add in personalized pieces like family photos or other knick-knacks.

styling built-in shelving
how to style your built-ins

Mix and Match Tones and Textures

Since I tend to lean towards more neutral tones, I like to incorporate different tones and textures to create contrast and dimension. Make sure to disperse these pieces evenly throughout your shelf so not one tone/texture stands out too much and instead, blends together.

neutral home decor

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Changes

Styling shelves can take time! Don’t be afraid to make changes as you’re styling your objects or walk away for a day or two so you can determine what needs to be adjusted. When things feel off, keep moving things around until it feels right!

P.S. Master Bedroom Tour & Tips for Keeping Your Vanity Organized

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