The first home my husband and I owned in California was full of built in shelves.  Tempted to get rid of them, it simply wasn’t in the budget.  And so, I eventually embraced the idea of having a place to showcase “stuff”, but wasn’t quite sure where to start??  I had a few framed photographs from our wedding of us with family, and other photos of friends at the time along with a few books (mostly from College).  But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t quite get my shelves to look like the ones I saw in magazines.  It wasn’t before long that our parents and grandparents were handing down vintage frames of black and white photos of relatives we had never known, vases, porcelain figurines, tea cups, plates, stamp collections, the list goes on.  I quickly grew to love the stories behind these pieces and meaning they had within our families.  I couldn’t bring myself to store these away in a box to one day be passed on to our children.  These pieces had a special meaning for us, mainly because they were apart of the memories we had of the family members who once possessed them, something we wanted for our own children.  So the challenge of incorporating these unique, one-of-a-kind pieces into our lives, style and decor became a true labor of love, and that’s where we begin!

Here’s my 5 tips on how to put together a fabulous shelf…

1) Start with love, your interests, your hobbies –  Whether you collect books, frames, coins, tea cups, plates, stamps or rocks, your love for these cherished collectibles deserve a rightful place in your life and home.  If you have a number of items to fill a shelf, you’re in luck!  If not, fear not.  Think outside the box for uniques items and head to antique stores and flea markets.  These places are filled with thousands of unique collectibles suitable for any style, love and personality that you want your space to reflect.

2) Size doesn’t matter –  Objects of  shapes can play off each other.  Don’t be shy to go big or even bold.  Oversized books, vases, large ornamental piece creates drama and attracts attention.   Items don’t have to sit perfectly symmetrical on the shelf either.  Mixing heights and size of objects will keep the eyes from being visually bored and keep them moving. So, go ahead and pair a large frame with a smaller one or display both large and small pottery pieces together giving the display dimension and interest that can be seen from across the room.

3) Color matters –  Deciding what items to display on your shelf, for me, begins with color.  Keeping pieces within the same color families/palette as the rest of the room is key! The colors of your room can easily be reflected by choosing books with covers that either match or complement the other colors of the room, for example.

4) Layer – I love it when a shelf has depth. Display your favorite painting or larger taller pieces in the back behind smaller pieces to create depth and visual interest.  This will keep your display from looking flat.

image via

5) Mix it up – Highlight your love for mixing and matching metals.  If you’ve combined stainless steel appliances with bronze-finished lighting and polished nickel plumbing fixtures, extend that to your shelves.  Combine these finishes with frames, vases and ornamental accent pieces to create a more complete and integrated look.