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How to create the perfect shelfie

Amber Interiors shelf styling

Styling your shelves is most certainly a ‘thing’ these days and while you may have considered your shelves as merely somewhere to store your books, incorporating a few of my tips today may mean your shelves are elevated to being social sharing worthy.

The “shelfie”, originally coined by author Rick Riondan and not to be confused with “selfie”, is a word used to describe an artfully arranged shelf or surface that’s then shared on social media. Is it a real word? Well, Colins Dictionary currently lists it as ‘under review’ so while we wait on their decision, there’s no time like the present to make sure your shelves are looking their very best, whether you wish to share them with the world or not.

Getting to know you

I’ve always thought glancing through someone’s book collection is a great way to get to know someone, not unlike looking through a record or CD collection was years ago. Shame it’s all digital these days. You can’t just casually glance through someone’s iPod. Books reveal a person’s interests and what they like to fill their heads with; whether it’s fantasy fiction, boat building or travel guides from every major European city, it’s a window to the personality within.

Styling shelves or small surface displays are similar in this respect so sharing a bit of your personality with the objects you choose for those displays is all a way to express ourselves in the home. So today, we’ll concentrate on a mix of both books as well as objects to create an aesthetically pleasing and practical shelf.

I’m not going to specify here which books you should choose to put on your shelves as it’s totally a personal choice – both in terms of the subjects you choose as well as how you decide to system them. If you like them colour-coded, alphabetical or by genre – well, that’s entirely up to you and all part of the fun.

Size matters

To start, choose a few larger objects that you’d like to include in your display like bowls, baskets or large sculptural objects. Balance the larger objects within the shelf so they are dispersed relatively evenly. You don’t want to have two large objects sat right next to each other or in the same position from one shelf to the next.

Next, you want to start adding your books to the shelf. Lay some horizontally - no more than three to five in a stack as you want to leave room above them - and place some vertically with their spines facing outwards. Consider mixing horizontally and vertically placed books on a single shelf or you can have one shelf where all the books are vertical and another with all the books horizontal. I would encourage you to mix it up! Make sure you don’t fill every available space with books just yet as you want to leave a bit of room for other items.

Now you can start adding some medium sized objects, dispersing them evenly like you did with the larger items. Use a few to sit on top of those stacks of books that are laid horizontally on the shelf to fill in the negative space. Consider items like small pieces of artwork, bowls, vases or picture frames.

Step back as you go and assess the shelf as a whole. Is it looking good to your eye? Does something not quite work? Take your time and continue to make adjustments as you go.

The finishing touches

Finally, add some smaller items to fill in some of the gaps. Tea light votives, air plants or vintage bric-a-brac all work here and layer the objects so that the largest are towards the back with the smallest items at the front.

Keep in mind as you go that items look better in sets of three as you fill your shelf. Try to include a few organic and natural items within your scheme as well. Plants, shells, interesting branches, rocks or feathers – they all work rather wonderfully to break up and ground the look.

Pay attention as well to any negative space left behind, ensuring the look isn’t too cluttered and that objects and items complement each other in their position and in relation to the display as a whole.

That’s it! Stand back and admire your work. And don’t forget to snap a picture of it and share it with the hashtag #shelfie!

Kimberly Duran is an award-winning interior design blogger who chronicles her decorating journey in her blog, Swoon Worthy. Her style is unashamedly eclectic, bohemian and glamorous and when she's not helplessly drooling over design websites and adding things to the imaginary 'shopping basket' in her head, she likes to get messy tackling DIY projects, stalking eBay for bargains, taking Instagram pictures of her cats and investing time in her ongoing love affair with gold spray paint.

Image source: Amber Interiors | Photography by Tessa Neustadt


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