How To Successfully Style Your Shelves

succulent vase

Are you stumped when it comes to styling your open shelves? Our lifestyle contributor, Erin Sousa, is here to share her step-by-step process for taking your vignettes from “messy” to “magazine-worthy” in no time!

My living room built-in shelves have become a catch-all for my vases, platters and décor items, and it was totally time for me to get organized. Because the shelving in my living room is such a focal point, I wanted to style my shelves so that they showcase some of my favorite items, while still being storage-friendly. I decluttered and pulled them together with some styling fundamentals. Check them out below. At the end of this process, you’ll have the perfect #shelfie to upload to Instagram!

antler decor

Gather your items.

Is it beautiful, sentimental or functional? That’s a great guideline to decide what to include on your shelves. Start with books and larger items. These will be your anchors and set the flow and tone for your styling. Add in greenery for that hint of freshness—succulents make perfect shelf plants as long as you have lots of sunlight in place.

The big show-stoppers.

Once you’ve layered that in, place your larger items on your shelves, considering how the flow appeals to the eye. Avoid placing more than one large item on any one shelf and don’t worry about symmetry yet.

Consider small details.

Now it’s time for your smaller objects and décor—accessories really tie things together! My favorites include candles, bud vases, quartz and bowls.

brass pineapple

Be intentional with color.

Choose your palette and then stay within that range of hues to avoid a messy look. I was going for a fresh and bright color scheme here, with a few darker colors to anchor the eye. 


If something isn’t working, just shake it up, and play with your styling until it pleases your eye! Walk away and come back a few minutes later—that little visual break will help you decide what to remove or rearrange.

stack of books

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Author: Erin Sousa

Erin is the founder & principal of Sparkle Media, and blogs at The Sparkle. Erin lives in her downtown Vancouver condo with her husband, Roberto, and their dog, Ava. Follow on Instagram!

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