Designing your shelf-scape: Creative ways to decorate with shelves

Dust off the china set: The days for hiding your belongings behind closed doors have come and gone, and it’s time to let your favorite accessories shine. Open shelving has become a popular storage solution for every room in the house, and we’ll show you how to create the perfect display for the items you love.



These shelves are great for displaying your favorite artwork and small accessory items. Since ledges protrude into the room only by a few inches, they are perfect for adding artwork to narrow or high-traffic spaces. Large-scale artwork can be quite pricey, but a grouped ledge display is an inexpensive alternative. Stacking ledges together in groups of three creates visual unity and makes your arrangement appear as one large piece of artwork.

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floating shelves

Floating shelves

Floating shelves look best when anchored by a piece of furniture. This gives the arrangement a stronger presence in the room. You can anchor floating shelves with cabinetry, dressers, desks and other large furniture pieces. Then, coordinate your display and anchor by including accessory items on your shelves that mimic the colors, texture or patterns of your anchor piece.

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bookcases and built-ins

Bookcases and built-ins

To create an architectural feature within your space, consider bookcases and built-in shelving. You don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars to get a custom look. Instead, browse thrift stores to find pieces that could be refinished or repurposed. Adding inexpensive molding to the top or fabric to the back of a basic bookcase will create that high-end look without that high-end price tag.

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Creating the perfect display

Make it personal

When creating any display within your home, include elements that speak to who you are. You can do this by using your favorite colours, including family photos or even displaying heirloom pieces. You’ll enjoy the finished display more if you show off what you love.

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Group similar items together

Before placing items onto the shelves, take some time to sort everything out. Group items by theme, colour, shape and texture, and take inventory of the items you have to work with. Then, reference the sorted piles as you distribute the items across the shelves. This will help you create balance across the entire display.

Don’t forget the books

You might read books on your Kindle or iPad, but don’t let that stop you from picking up a good cover or two. Books are beautiful objects to display on shelves. Place smaller accessories on a few stacked books to add height, dimension and scale. Use decorative bookends to group similar books together, or sort your books by colour to create unity.

Create layers

To make your display interesting, vary your accessories by height and scale. Display larger items toward the back of the shelf, then layer smaller accessories in front. Be careful not to overdo your arrangement. Leave some areas of the display open, or displaying only a single, large-scale item.

Money saving tip: Decorating with what you have >>


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