Trying to find inventive ways to inject some life into your home décor can be overwhelming at times. We are so saturated in inspiration, from hordes of Pinterest boards to dedicated interior design Instagram accounts (#InteriorDesign has a whopping 1.3 million posts!), that it can often be hard to know where to start. But sometimes just reinventing the most basic of household objects, such as the simple shelf, can work wonders for injecting both an aesthetic and functional boost to a room. This is especially pertinent if, like me, you live in rented accommodation, where it can be even more difficult to bring your own stamp of individuality to your living space. I’ve brought you some simple tips for utilising your shelving, in a way that will allow you to get that little piece of unique flair, keep it functional and not break the bank or upset your landlord!
Treat Your Shelf Like Your Personal Gallery
Perhaps this is the museum worker in me but when I am dressing a shelf space, I like to approach it as if it’s a mini gallery and it’s up to me to curate it. Shelves can be the perfect way to bring your personality to the forefront, so take advantage of filling the space with things you love. Focus largely on aesthetics here: this works especially good on shelves fitted to the wall as it acts as a main feature, or centrepiece. I am a bit of a hoarder, so I keep a hold of everything from glass bottles, boxes to candle holders; basically anything I like the look of, and they often make fantastic display pieces. Setting yourself a colour scheme can be a good way to focus on a theme that’s broad enough to allow you to be creative but contained enough that it will look aesthetically pleasing, and also helps avoid the temptation of just dumping random “bits” together. You want it to be well thought out, but look effortless. Also, when it comes to dressing the shelf, work in a pyramid shape: have your tallest item central and at the back and display everything else in a descending order either side, overlapping to give depth. Odd numbers are proven to be more pleasing on the eye too, so keep that in mind and try not to cram too much. But the main thing is, have fun with it! Include books, soft toys, flowers, trinkets – whatever sparks joy! It makes for a personal and unique focal point on your wall and it’s also a fun, creative project.
One of the easiest ways to bring some individuality to your shelf space is by using artwork and photographs. The traditional way many of us choose to decorate our shelving is with photos of our friends, family and favourite memories. But why not mix it up with some stylish artwork too? I love a gallery wall, but its not easy to do in a rented apartment, so transferring the same idea onto your shelves can still help you surround yourself with all your favourite pictures. Think outside the box a little: I often frame postcards from my favourite exhibitions or holidays I’ve been on, giving me a unique piece of art that holds a dear memory. Museums and art gallery websites also sell tons of really unusual prints and posters so they are a good place to start (I recommend the V&A and the National Gallery for a good mix of both traditional art work and pop culture prints). Magazines are also a useful source for making stylish art work – there’s a reason why those fashion advertisements cost so much and it’s amazing how a simple cutting from a magazine can instantly look like an pricey art piece once in a frame. Any small tokens can act as decoration – how about framing a gig ticket or a movie stub from your first date with your partner? Or drying out leaves and flowers from your stroll in the park and pressing them in a glass frame? There are lots of ways to create personal pieces of art, so that every time you look at your shelves, they hold some of your most cherished memories.
There is something about injecting a little bit of nature into your home that is good for the soul, so it’s unsurprising that using plants and flowers to decorate your shelf space is a simple and sure way to breathe life into your décor. Plant care at home can either spark immense delight or immanent fear, depending on how well you are able look after your plant babies! But fear not, you can fake it till you make it to a top botanical cultivator, and there are so many fabulous artificial plants and flowers to choose from and are often very cheap to source. For an easy introduction to plant care, start off with small succulents which need minimal tending to and look gorgeous in colourful pots and vases. I also love to treat myself to a bunch of my favourite flowers from time to time and use them to spruce up my shelving. All those glass bottles I told you I keep? Even just adding a few stems of your favourite flower just gives you that extra bit of colour and joy. Or why not jump on the newest bandwagon and indulge in some dried flowers? They come in the dreamiest colours (pastel bunny tails are my fave!) and can last up to three years. Ideal for low maintenance style.
Fashionable Can Still Be Functional
Now of course, the main focus of this article is how to improve the look of your shelf space, but it doesn’t mean they can’t still be functional too. One of my favourite spaces to play around with is my bookshelf. Of course, it’s main function is to store books, but instead of just rows of vertically stacked volumes, I try to break it up a little by popping a picture frame or ornament in between. Also, don’t be scared to have some of your larger books stacked horizontally to break the pattern up further. Displaying some of your favourite beauty products can also bring a little spark to your shelving – pop pretty perfume bottles or favourite tubs of creams and lotions in amongst your books and pictures; they not only look good and deserve to be shown off, but will be right to hand whenever you need them.
So, why not set yourself a shelf sorting project, revamp that book storage or create your own little wall gallery. Sometimes it’s the smallest changes that can bring the biggest impact to your space. Also, feel free to share some of your own shelf décor tips in the comments!