INTERIORS / OUR HOME

Styling an Open Shelving Unit

Aug 27, 2018 | By New Darlings

If you have built in shelving in your home, we’re jealous. We have always admired beautifully styled shelves that seem to just pull a room together and display people’s most treasure pieces. I feel like shelving can tell you so much about someone’s personality. One of the biggest projects we’ll be working on over the next month is a custom wall to wall, floor to ceiling built in shelving unit design with a local company in town. We recently finished all of the details, measurements and material selections required to get the project started, so now we’re thinking about the fun stuff: design and decor! We’re excited to partner with ShopStyle on our fail proof tips for styling open shelving, and share some pieces we picked up from Anthropologie for the space. Anthropologie is one of our favorite sources for home decor pieces and we have to stop ourselves from scooping up almost everything from their New Arrivals section each week. It’s dangerous. 😉 They have a good balance of vintage-esque items that also feel modern and fresh, so we always appreciate their aesthetic.

Here’s a look at the plan. The shelving unit will be once you walk into our home on the left hand side (facing the living room). It will merge the entryway with the living room and create a cohesive feel, with similar cabinet finishes you’ll see in the kitchen, which is adjacent to the living room. We decided to go with such a large piece for practicality/storage purposes as it will have some cabinetry on the bottom, and also from a design perspective so we could finally show off some of our favorite books and decor pieces.

I’ve noticed that over the years we have a formula when it comes to styling. Here’s what we reach for when designing and styling open shelving…

1 – BOOKS
We’ve collected a ton of books over the years and they are where we begin when decorating almost any surface (coffee table, dresser, shelving unit, etc). I like to cluster a few horizontally and vertically on various shelves, playing with the placement. Keep in mind this isn’t going to a be a traditional bookshelf. We want to infuse some character with decor pieces, artwork, etc, so how we use books in this particular design is very different than a typical office bookcase. We try to keep color in mind too, sticking to a certain palette and sprinkling around the book colors in a zig-zag effect with the way they are displayed, (ie: don’t have two shelves on top of each other with blue books and then two shelves with pink books, unless you’re going for the rainbow look, which is fun too).

2 – DECORATIVE OBJECTS + ARTWORK
Let your favorite art work and prints shine! I love resting framed art behind a shallow stack of books or adding a small print on a tray with a pretty decorative object. Brass pigs, floral prints, an oversized hand sculpture…really whatever strikes your fancy. Depending on the size of your shelves this is where you can really infuse a ton of character. Mix up your sizes and shapes, but remember to stay within your original color palette so it looks cohesive and not like your great grandma’s china closet. Sorry grandma. 😉

MORE FAVORITES:

3 – TRAYS + BOWLS
Trays and little bowls are great as catch-alls for keys and mail or can be a great anchor for some smaller decorative options. I love how Anthropologie has a nice variety of sizes and shapes when it comes to these pieces. This brass palm leaf dish immediately caught our eye, along with this marble tray. I think we’re going to stack the palm leaf on a few books, and maybe a add a small bud vase to the marble tray with a few books stacked horizontally. This big seagrass tray is so fun too! Are you sensing a pattern? I also like how larger trays can look rested in the back of a shelf like a piece of artwork. This engraved tray looks perfect for that.

TRAYS + BOWLS WE LOVE:

4 – PLANTS
Bring in greenery! Whether its through potted plants like a cascading pothos or florals in low vases, adding some texture and greenery really gives shelving some life. We add plants in every room and this new shelving unit will be no exception. We have our eyes on these face pots and a few small vases for clippings and fresh flowers. I love this pink glass one.

VASES + PLANTERS:

Can’t wait to share more progress of this project with you guys! Hope this helped anyone with some styling woes. 🙂

*Thank you to ShopStyle for sponsoring this post. As always all thoughts & opinions are our own.

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1 comment on “Styling an Open Shelving Unit”

  1. Love the tips in this post! Personally I would have liked to see a few more photos of your styled shelves in elevation, as opposed to so many flat lays/plan views (maybe of past “shelfies,” since you don’t have your new piece built just yet!) Beautiful photos and styling regardless! Thank you for sharing 🙂

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