Installing your shelves is pretty painless, thanks to our innovative bracket system. Styling your shelves on the other hand, can be a bit more brutal. If you are wondering how to decorate your floating shelves, there really isn’t a right or wrong way. We do have a few tips and tricks though that may make the floating shelf decorating process easier.
There are so many different ways that you can layer up your shelves to add personality to your home. As we design shelves, we like to put all of the potential elements on a table so we can see everything that could possibly go on the shelves in front of us. Building this pile helps us see what elements don’t work with the other elements and may help us spot design holes in our plan.
Shelves are first and foremost though, a functional storage space so when we get decorating, we like to start there.
Especially in a kitchen or dining room, we always consider what the shelves need to actually store, first. Do the shelves need to hold plates or cups? Is this a place to stash extra cutting boards, mixing bowls or cookbooks? Once we figure out what the shelf actually needs to store, we place those items up on the shelves in a tentative spot. We never say ‘I do’ to shelf decor before we have everything up on the wall and have sat with it for a few days. Even seasoned shelf stylers need a little time to soak up the design.
After the storage items are up, gather everything else that could potentially go on your custom floating shelves and see how the items work together. Discard anything that doesn’t flow. Play with color, texture, height, and weight to create a balanced shelf. Work with the items that you need the shelf to store, and when in doubt, work in clusters of threes.
The rule of thirds is all over the art and design world, and when it comes to styling shelves, clusters of three are an eye-catching way to add balance to your shelves. Another popular design rule tells you to design in triangles if you’re working with more than one shelf. This means that you put one item on the top shelf, and two on either side of it on the bottom shelf (of vice-versa). It can also mean that in a cluster, you situate all of the items into a triangle that leads your eye.
Now, we should remind you that rules are made to be broken, so as long as you love the decor on your shelves, it works!
If you’ve got items like books, try flipping them on their side and using them as a plant stand. Play around with different sizes of picture frames. Try layering them. If small items feel like they’re floating out in space, ground them with a tray or on a larger item. When in doubt, we recommend going a little green and adding plants or flowers.
We also recommend selecting a color palette for your open shelf decor and sticking to it. Using repeating colors instantly ups your shelfie game and makes your styling look cohesive. If you want your room to look like a stylist helped you pick all of your decor, stick to three or four colors. You don’t have to pick the exact same shade of the colors in every decor item, but unless you’re looking for a rainbow shelf look, keeping your color palette minimal is a plus.
A minimal color palette is more difficult to pull off than a one-color scheme. Because of this, when you master the minimal color palette, your shelves will instantly look like they’ve been professionally styled.
And speaking of stylist tips, cutting clutter is a must. Once you’ve filled your shelves with decor, you’ll be able to tell if you’ve got too much, or not enough, going on. When your shelves are overfilled they look busy, not beautifully curated. Sometimes you need a second set of honest eyes to tell you if you’ve overfilled the shelves. Especially in a common room like the living room, shelves are just as much a decor statement as they are an organizational tool. Making sure you hit the right balance means that your shelves remain a functional, organized, and beautiful statement in your home.
If you get stuck, look at lots of inspo pictures and try to identify what it is about the floating shelf decor that you like. A few weeks ago we saw a shelf decorated with beautiful antique plates. The shelf looked expertly styled and we liked the overall look, but our favorite part was the plates. Did we go home and toss all of our shelf decor and cover it in antique plates? No, because that doesn’t match our style. What we did do though, was add a simple plate to our shelves to incorporate the element that we loved.
Where to Shop for Floating Shelf Decor
When it comes to floating shelves, decorating should be fun and it doesn’t have to break the bank. There are so many ways to give your shelves a unique and fun look — whether you tackle a DIY project, upcycle items you already own, or shop around for the perfect items.
We like shopping in our own house first. Sometimes we find the perfect picture frame on the dresser in our guest bedroom or a great old candlestick packed up in the garage. When you shop in your own house, it's like starting in a store where the shop owner has the exact same taste as you do...and everything is free. After we’ve collected from around the house, we make a list of other things we’d like to add to our shelves and get busy.
Thrift shopping is always next on our list. Local thrift stores are full of inexpensive treasures, but sometimes it is a hunt. Grab a thrifting buddy and some hand sanitizer and try a few different thrift stores. Know what you’re looking for before you go into the store so you don’t end up buying little items that you’ll never actually use. Along with small local thrift stores we love Goodwill, Value Village, The Restore, Deseret Industries, and Savers. In the same vein of thrift shopping, we have also been known to frequent yard, garage, and estate sales in the warmer summer months. You’d be surprised by how many great things we’ve scored for just a few dollars.
As a small business ourselves, another place we regularly look for great shelf decor items is Etsy. We love shops that offer digital download art prints that we can print locally and frame for our open shelves. We also love custom pieces created specifically for the spaces in our homes. Every shelf needs a wow-moment, statement piece and a lot of times, we find exactly what we are looking for on Etsy.
We’re also not strangers to shopping for shelf decor items (of DIY supplies), so here are a few of our favorite places to find decor.
Inexpensive Decor Shops:
Target, JoAnn (make sure you have a coupon), Marshall’s, Overstock, H&M Home, Ikea, TjMaxx, World Market, and Home Goods. Walmart also occasionally has a great decor find.
High End Decor Shops:
Pottery Barn, Juniper Books, Serena & Lily, Burke Decor, Anthropologie, Williams Sonoma, Heirloom Art Co, Aero Studios, Article, Chairish, West Elm, Joybird, and Lulu & Georgia.
A few of our Favorite Etsy Shops:
ArtisticHomePortrait, Portracy, SunnysShopLA, HomewareByBetty, Covogoods, PrintedMarketplace, and TheRustyRoof.
Shelf Art Shops:
Bff Print Shop, Juniper Print Shop, Society6, Minted, Paper Collective, and Artsy.
We love these shelves for a whole lot of reasons. The shelves are warm toned, like the rest of the room and match the wood on the mantle really well. We also love the neutral color palette on the shelves that matches the rest of the room and the artwork on the other side of the wall.
These shelves are a great example of when mixing cool and warm tones works perfectly! The balance brought to the room by the warmth of these shelves compliments the backsplash. The sets of three decorations on each shelf work because they add symmetry to the design and because of their varying heights and widths.
The thing we love about these shelves is how well all of the different elements work together. There are so many different sizes, shapes, and textures on these shelves. When paired correctly though, you get a cohesive look that elevates and amplifies any space in the home. When you combine so many elements, sticking to a color scheme is one way to make sure that you don’t end up with disjointed shelves.
When you’re working with more than one shelf, all of the rows need to work together — that’s why we love this design so much. The boards on the back wall add an element that needs to be complimented, not competed with. Keeping the decor items darker and in design clusters allows the entire space to work together cohesively.
One of the very best things about open shelves is that you can change up your decor for the holiday seasons. It’s a big selling point for us. We love that these shelves swapped in a little bit of festive holiday decor that still matched the year-round decor pieces on them. If you love sprucing up things seasonally, these wood floating shelves have your name all over them.
When you’re decorating with floating shelves, sometimes a little paint can make the moment. We love this simple DIY that takes the shelf decor, and the room to a new level. The green pop is an interesting element in the room that keeps the space visually interesting while the shelves, and the decor on the shelves ground the pop of color with their earthy tones.
Feeling inspired? Go full Joanna Gaines and grab the custom shelves your room has been begging for.