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How to Style Wall Shelves Like a Pro

There are common techniques to styling wall shelves like professionals do. They use a similar strategy to create an interesting arrangement with a combination of these five elements.

1. Framed art or photographs. Frames are either leaning, hanging, or both. As a practical element, they fill vertical space, but art is a way to showcase your unique style and personalize a space. Art or photographs are an opportunity to add both color and style (vintage, botanical, abstract, etc).

2. Books. These are stacked both vertically and horizontally on deeper shelves. Shallow art ledges don’t allow for stacking, but bookcases and deeper wall shelves do. Books are heavier so they provide weight to allow for lighter contrast elsewhere.

3. Decorative objects in varied shapes. Since books and artwork are square or rectangular, adding objects with curves, sheen, and texture keeps the arrangement interesting.

4. Organic elements from nature. Plants are the easiest way to bring shelves to life but don’t forget about sculptural shells, textured stone or fibrous objects, and wavy or colorful ceramics.

5. Negative space. To avoid a cluttered look it’s important to not display too much and give objects room to breathe and the eye a place to rest.

I used four of these five elements to create this arrangement with black art ledges in my studio.

In the local studio, I used four of the five elements to style these shelves featuring our botanical and landscape art.

Below are more examples of floating or bracketed wall shelves styled by professionals using the same five elements.

I didn’t use books on these ledges since they are too narrow but used the four remaining elements to style them, mixing botanical and landscape artwork in a black and white palette.

When styling, play with perspective, heights, and shapes to achieve a look you love.


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