Design Tips

How to: Shelf Styling


The Art of Elegant Shelf Styling

 My approach to crafting visually interesting, well-balanced shelf displays is to treat them like a gallery space, where a skilful use of negative space is just as important as what you’re putting on display. The trick to perfectly harmonious bookshelves is to not overcrowd them.

Creating Structure

Look at the shelving area you’re working with like a pyramid, with one large statement piece in the top-centre position to draw the eye up, before moving down to create width with smaller items like photo frames and candles at eye level. At the lower levels, spread across the whole width of the bottom shelves with bold, anchoring items like books, storage boxes or sculptural pieces. This pyramid method creates visual harmony and prevents the display from feeling top-heavy or cluttered.


Balance Symmetry and Asymmetry


A composition doesn’t need to be symmetrical or the mirror image on both sides. Creating similar proportions and height levels on both sides achieves a balanced, but not ‘over-styled’ look. Styling in pairs is a great way to help build up the display, I love pairing glass vases and photo frames in two sizes side by side. Glass is a wonderful reflector of light and captures a sense of fluidity. Also, if the shelves are back-lit, our Phoenix glass vases will take on a beautiful warm glow, adding an element of visual intrigue. Photo frames also work well in pairs, giving a layered look and a sense of depth when staggered. Photographs naturally bring a personal touch to your styling and make the display uniquely yours.


A Varied Assortment

Variety is key when it comes to shelf styling. Mix different materials and textures to add depth and interest to your display. Sculptural items like bookends work well as ornamental pieces atop a stack of books, or when used practically to envelope a row of vertically stacked books. Combine contrasting forms and shapes such as organic-shaped glass vases alongside a bronze trimmed media box for a striking contrast.


Bring To Life

Bring life to your display with a carefully chosen faux floral arrangement, conveniently requiring little upkeep. Incorporating some greenery infuses the display with a touch of colour and vitality, creating a harmonious balance between the organic and the curated. Don’t place detailed and intricate items like florals too high or low on shelves, else they won’t be appreciated to their full effect. Aim for around eye level when positioning.




Don't be afraid to leave some empty negative space on your shelves to allow the viewer to not be visually overwhelmed. Throughout your design process, frequently step back and look at the shelves from a few different angles to ensure you are achieving a nice balance. And remember, what’s important is that you love everything on display. This should be an area that you enjoy sitting back and looking at time and time again, so don't be afraid to experiment and let your creativity guide you.  

With love,

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