When I moved into my apartment, I was both equally thrilled and daunted by the built-in shelves in my living room. Open shelving can be difficult to style, and there’s a bit of extra pressure when said shelves are in the main area and all your guests are bound to see them! While some choose to fill their built-ins from top to bottom with books, I knew from the get-go that I wanted my space to look chic, not chaotic, so I took a more refined approach. Now, having lived in my space for a few years, I’ve mastered the art of shelf styling and can’t imagine an apartment without built-ins.
One thing that’s great about shelf styling is that nothing is permanent. I enjoy making over individual shelves to reflect my evolving style and highlight new purchases—I’m always expanding my coffee table book collection and picking up little trinkets when I travel, for example. The shelf pictured above is one of the biggest on my built-ins, and recently, I decided it was time for it to get a bit of a revamp. The reason? I recently painted the backs of my shelves a bold black, a stark contrast to their previous white hue. With this new pop of color came a need for new accessories, so I went in search of some fun pieces to style. Then came the fun part: Styling everything to look just so! Follow along to get my tips on how to make your shelving shine in just a few steps.
Add Your Large Items
I knew I wanted to display a favorite art piece on this shelf, since it’s one of the taller shelves in this unit, so I set my artwork out first. Next, I started to lay out some of the coffee table books I picked up at Barnes and Noble, starting with the largest title. I made a point to purchase books with black and white spines so that they would best correspond with my setup, but of course, I grabbed titles that stood out to me, too! There are so many coffee table books on all different topics to choose from; you shouldn’t have trouble finding a few that match your space and appeal to your interests.
Weave in Accessories
Once I had my largest items in place, it was time to start accessorizing. When I stopped by Evoluxxy, a clothing store that is a favorite among my fashionable friends, I was thrilled to learn that they recently began selling home products. As soon as I spotted this gorgeous bust sculpture (which doubles as a vase) I knew it was coming home with me. I have a major thing for busts, and this petite yet stylish piece looks perfect on my shelf. I also set out a glass candle pedestal I picked up for a mere $4 at TJ Maxx. Because it’s clear, the piece takes up practically zero visual space, which helps ensure that the setup doesn’t get too busy looking.
Even after I set out these initial pieces, the shelf still needed a little TLC. I reached for the other two coffee table books I picked up on my trips to Barnes and Noble and Amazon Books and stacked them on top of the first to add some height. This shelf is quite tall, so I wanted to take advantage of some of the vertical space available. Then, I warmed things up with a sweet plant from Balducci’s. Succulents don’t need a ton of light, so this little green friend should survive just fine where it’s positioned. You can always opt for something faux if you’re worried though! Let me just say that the succulent worked wonders in warming up this vignette and making it feel a little more cozy. I also love how the green stands out against the black backdrop. I then grabbed the cute candle I picked up at Banner’s Hallmark Shop and placed it atop the TJ Maxx pedestal. When I’m relaxing at home, I love to have a candle lit, so this addition was both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
The entire styling process was quite simple, and the end result makes such a difference in my space. Not to mention, I have some pretty cute shelfies that I can’t wait to post on Instagram!