Open shelving can be a real challenge when it comes to styling, but these examples of perfectly-styled open shelving units show how you can nail it to create a striking display that looks great and feels balanced. The great thing about open shelving (as long as you can keep it tidy) is the amount of storage and display space that it offers without being too overbearing, as wall-to-wall cupboards can sometimes be.
There are definitely some ideas that I’d like to steal from these examples (I’m constantly faffing with my own open shelving in our living room, that I shared recently) – I’m really keen to add some gorgeous baskets to my shelves (the ones in the photograph above are so stunning) – not only would they offer a practical place to store smaller bits and bobs, but they would add interesting texture to my display, too.
Source: Smitten Studio
I know it’s a bit ‘style over practicality’, but I love seeing books displayed spine in rather than out (as seen above). You get the character of books, without the distracting colours and designs of the spines.
Source: the kitchn
The earthy tones and natural textures of the different objects displayed on the shelves above pull the whole arrangement together, and this is a perfect example of the interest created by choosing objects of varying heights. These shelves also show how practical objects can be given display value when styled well.
Source: My Scandinavian Home
I’m finding our home is heading back to a more monochrome look at the moment, so it’s refreshing to see some colour used above. Painting the shelves (or just the wall behind) a bright shade, and then restricting the colour palette of the objects on display is a great way to inject colour, but keep the overall look clean and modern.
Source: The Design Chaser
My String shelving in my home office is one of my favourite purchases this year, and I dream of investing in some more. These ones above have been styled to perfection – leaving plenty of space around each grouping of objects creates a resting place for the eye, and elevates the visual impact of each individual arrangement.
Source: Desire to Inspire
I need more trailing plants in my life! I love how the plants above blur the lines between each separate shelf.
Here are a few extra styling tips for open shelves:
- Create a variety of smaller groups of objects to act as mini curated displays. When grouping your items, use the pyramid principle – forming a triangular shape by staggering the heights of objects is a common trick stylists use to create a sense of balance that’s pleasing to the eye. Layer objects to pull a grouping together – don’t just line them up.
- Make use of baskets and boxes to hide away smaller items that otherwise risk making your shelves look too busy and cluttered. Choosing beautiful storage containers will make a design feature of the containers themselves.
- Mix up the materials to add visual interest – different textures and finishes will add depth to your display. It’s a good idea to include artwork – a framed print or photograph or even a small card propped against the wall will introduce an extra element.
- Leave space around groups of objects – the negative space will frame them and balance out your arrangement.
- Have fun – play with scale or include something unexpected to create a focal point that will grab the eye.
My ‘for display’ Pinterest board is one of my favourites – I’m endlessly pinning display ideas and beautiful ways to display objects of artwork so head over there for more inspiration.