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How to decorate shelves like a pro

November 20, 2020

How to decorate shelves like a pro

Do you have some shelves to fill but are feeling stuck about how to make them look good? From books and picture frames to baskets, vases and candles - it can be tricky to know how to bring all the different elements together.

To give you some inspiration, we’ve put together our top 10 tips for decorating your shelves like a pro.

1. Variety is key

Shelves tend to look boring when they’re full of the same thing. Spice things up by having a combination of objects such as framed art, photos, plants, candles and baskets. The addition of different textures and shapes will help make each piece stand out.

When displaying artwork or photos, mix and match the styles. For example, pair a simple contour line print with a bold aerial photograph.

2. Complement or contrast

Shelves can stick out like a sore thumb if they don’t tie in with the rest of the room. Complement the colours and accents throughout your living room by introducing similar elements on your shelf. For example, a gold picture frame can help tie in a gold ceiling fan or gold elements on your throw cushions.

Want more or a pop for your shelves? Try contrasting with other elements in the room. For example, a black frame against a white wall or a pop of gold to contrast with lots of blue elements around the room. 

3. Rule of threes

home decor ideas - accessories

If you’re having trouble arranging your accessories on the shelves, try matching them up in groups of three. For example, group a framed wedding photo with a hanging vine in a pot and a small clock.

Don’t forget to leave some space between the different groups of threes so that the arrangements can be appreciated.

4. Don’t forget the walls

A mistake a lot of people make is to cram their shelves full of beautiful accessories but leave the walls in the room bare. To achieve a balanced look, don’t forget to decorate your walls too. Artwork in custom picture frames, gallery walls and framed mirrors are all great ideas.

If your shelving unit is quite small, you can add height to it by hanging frames on the wall above the shelf. It’s a simple but effective way to draw the eye upwards.

5. Try picture ledges

Don’t have much space for a full set of shelves? Try picture ledges instead. They're basically shallow ledges that you can customise to fit your space perfectly. Install some over a desk, above a couch or over a fireplace.

Picture ledges are the ideal way to display several picture frames at once. Unlike hooks in the wall, you can change up the arrangement whenever you want. It’s easy to swap out old pictures for new ones when you feel like the shelf needs refreshing.

6. Choose a theme

To make your whole shelf harmonise together, it helps to select a colour palette. For a modern minimalist look, you could choose black, white and an accent colour such as blue. Or stick with a natural theme and use wooden elements with greenery from plants or dried flowers. Think about how the colours and textures work together to create an overall look.

7. Create depth

When you display everything in a straight line, the shelf tends to lose personality. Create interest by layering your items instead.

For example, when you have multiple framed pieces to display, don’t just line them up. Try overlapping a smaller frame with a larger frame to add depth. Use other accessories towards the front of the shelf to break up the space too.

8. Play with size and shape

picture frames perth

You can transform the whole look of a shelf by varying the size and shape of any frames you are displaying. 

Too many rectangles? Mix it up by introducing square frames or tipping some of your existing frames on their sides. Play with thick and thin frames and different style matting to add more variation to your shelves.

9. Tell a story

Create an emotional connection with your shelves by telling a visual story. For example, pair a wedding photograph with dried flowers that you’ve preserved from the day. 

Or place a handmade vase you bought on your last holiday next to a framed photo from the trip. It’s these visual stories that help make your living room feel like home.

10. Choose custom frames for a personal touch

Custom made picture frames are a fantastic way to add that personal touch to your shelves. When you’re displaying artwork or photos that you really love, a custom frame will help them get the attention they deserve. 

At Portfolio Picture Frames, we create custom picture frames that look beautiful and are better at protecting your precious items from damage, dust and UV light. Get in touch with us to see how we can help create something unique for you.

Send us a message!