Styling Shelves

Have you ever looked at those homes in the magazines, where everything is just so effortlessly stylish, where there is a place for everything, and everything looks… well, just so darned good?

The reason that they catch your eye is that good styling has a massive impact on how a space looks.  Good styling makes a space feel simultaneously relaxed yet interesting. Good styling elevates a home from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

“Good styling makes a space feel simultaneously relaxed, yet interesting.”

— Kate Hatherell, The Home Design School

But how do those rooms come together?

You see, those rooms you see in magazines aren’t just a happy coincidence of good taste. They are the result of careful planning, careful shopping and a well-executed plan. A professional stylist will have overseen the process, and been in to play around with the home owner’s accessories and ornaments, to make it look magazine-worthy before it is photographed.

Now, there are some of us who can just throw a few ornaments together and it all looks effortlessly stylish, and that’s fab! But for most of us, achieving these ‘effortless’ looks takes… well… effort… (ahem).

What to do if you don’t have an in-house stylist (!)

So if you don’t have a professional stylist on hand (anyone?), and you are lacking in natural styling talent, what is one to do?

Well, the first thing to do is to learn a few styling tips. Styling can be a little overwhelming. There’s so much more to it than just throwing a few vases together (as you’ve discovered already).

And so we start to learn a few styling tricks in a very small way. 

Like shelf-sized small. 

So before we dive into the ‘What Not To Dos’, I want to share with you the opportunity to join my completely FREE, utterly awesome 5 day shelf styling challenge, which is going to show you how not to make the mistakes I’m about to tell you about! 

You don’t need to spend any money, you can just use items in your own home, and you don’t need to be a styling Goddess in order to make your shelf look awesome.

It’s going to be a lot of fun! And the best thing is, it starts on Monday (25th September!)

Just click the image below to find out more.

So, (did you join us?) let’s dive into the mistakes that people make when styling tricky places like, hmm bookcases. Here goes…

Mistake #1: Having too many books

Yes, I know that bookcases are built in order to house books. However, if your bookcase is part of a living room scheme for example (as opposed to an office or library) then putting too many books on your bookcase will just look cluttered and disorganised. Less really is more when it comes to creating good-looking displays.

Edit your books down and make space for ornaments, art and accessories.

Mistake #2: Not having enough books!

Conversely, not having enough books on your bookshelf can be a problem too! A book case needs to have a balance of vertical and horizontal lines as well as ornaments, and books are a key way of adding those straight lines to your display. Books help the eye to make sense of the other (more interesting shapes) displayed. Consider them a backdrop to show off your more fancy stuff.

Mistake #3: Having an Inconsistent Colour Palette

A bookcase within a room becomes part of the colour scheme. So although you may have books and ornaments of every colour, you need to consider how your accessories fit into the wider colour scheme of your room.

To get a cohesive look across your bookcase, edit your items to create a consistent colour palette.

Mistake #4: Using too many small things

When it comes to filling up a bookcase, there is a temptation to cram it full of small ornaments and trinkets. However, if you have too many small things on a shelf you will create a fussy and cluttered look.

A good variety of smaller and larger items, in a variety of shapes and finishes will make your bookcase look balanced, and ordered. 

Mistake #5: Not Grouping Items in Vignettes

Vignettes is a fancy styling term, which really just means ‘objects placed together in a group’. Placing items as part of a vignette creates visual balance in a décor scheme.

You can’t just place objects randomly around your bookshelf. There is a real skill to creating good looking vignettes, and you can learn helpful design tips (such as proximity and alignment) that can help you to get it right. (Yep, we cover all this in the free #shelfie styling challenge too).

Mistake #6: Visual Weight is wrong

Visual Weight is another one of those terms which is banded about by designers, and doesn’t make much sense to the layperson. At its most basic, visual weight is about how much impact a piece has, or how weighty it looks.

So a big black box will look weightier than a delicate lace covered vase, for example. The black box has greater visual weight. There are several things that add to an item’s visual weight, such as colour, shape, scale and texture. Knowing how to place your objects so that the visual weight is right will make your styled space look balanced.  

Mistake #7: Not enough white space

Having too many things on your shelves (whether small or not) will make your space look cluttered. When styling, don’t forget that you need to leave blank visual space, between your accessories. Allow the ornament to be the star of the shelf. As Coco Chanel allegedly once said “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory”. And much the same advice works well for your styling too. Sometimes simplicity is key.

So who knew that styling a surface in your home has so many different elements to it?!

But really, once you know a few styling rules and apply them in your styling, it all becomes clearer and easier to follow.

In next week’s free styling challenge, we’re going to learn 5 different styling rules (one each day) and apply them to a shelf in our home, and you can take those rules and apply them virtually anywhere else in your home.  It’s a low-risk, easy way to make a small part of your home look as though you’ve had a professional designer in.

Just click below to read all about it, and to sign up.

I can’t wait to see you there 🙂

Until next time x

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