3 Exceedingly Practical Tips for Styling a Shelf

'Shelf Styling 101' is in session.
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From the moment I began sheltering in place, I also began nesting in place. I organized the closet at the top of our stairs so effectively, it almost has enough floor space to function as a small office. Our pantry got a thorough once-over, as did our living room (several times over) and pretty much every single surface. Over the course of my cleaning spree, I began to recognize a few patterns, but none were as obvious as those that emerged when I styled our bookshelves. Here are 3 tips to always keep in mind when styling shelves to be both practical and beautiful: 


When we lived in apartments half the size of our current one, I began seriously limiting decorative options that don't serve a function (remember this post on nostalgia?). Unless it's something I truly take joy from looking at every day, tchotchkes generally create unnecessary clutter. Nearly every item on my shelves now has a use, which also makes my shelves dynamic and keeps them from turning into dusty, unused relics. The whale is a bottle opener, we keep our favorite booze out for cocktails, the books are all on either Jonah's or my "to read" list, the vintage dog bowl holds quarters for laundry, and the matches are all collected from my favorite restaurants and used every night. The coffee table books are all books I actually return to regularly.


Shelves that are well-styled generally have "balance" to thank for cohesion. As you go, keep colors, weights, textures, and objects balanced. For example, the top shelf is balanced with both black+white and gold on the right and left, and the matches are diagonally aligned from the bottom to the top shelf (if you had an imaginary marker, you could draw a straight line between the two!). The books on the middle shelf are evenly weighted so one side doesn't look heavier than the other. 


The easiest way to tell if a shelf is "done" is to reference a before photo. I never hated how our built-in looked before, but I didn't realize how much stronger our shelves looked until I took a look at how it was organized before. It's so much cleaner and brighter now!