3 Tips for Styling Your Shelves, According to an Interior Designer

updated Jun 17, 2021
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Credit: Rikki Snyder

The Small/Cool Experience is a shoppable online home design showcase and social event full of decorating tips and tricks from your favorite designers. Check out the whole virtual experience online and at @apartmenttherapy on Instagram from June 11-13. Thank you to our sponsors BEHR® Paint, Genesis G70, LUMAS, Overstock, Tuft & Needle, Chasing Paper, and Interior Define for making this experience possible.

Michelle Fahmy took on The New Kitsch design style during this year’s Small Cool Experience and she definitely didn’t disappoint. “When I’m designing, I love a WOW moment,” Fahmy says. Her room was packed with design inspiration like how to make red walls feel cozy, fun opportunities to inject color into your space, and the best ways to style a shelf.

One statement piece in Fahmy’s space is her perfectly styled walnut A-frame shelf from Article. She used things like plants, bowls, and (of course) books to curate the perfect display. Who doesn’t love a good shelfie?

Here, a few tips from Fahmy on how to style your shelves like an interior designer.

Credit: Dani Sandels

Use plates and barware

Pretty plates and wine glasses can serve as great pieces of decor when trying to figure out what to add to your shelves. “This is especially great [for functionality] if your shelf is in a common area like the living room,” she says. “And if you’re low on cabinet space in the kitchen, then it’s a space-saver, too.” 

Don’t be afraid to stack and layer

Fahmy likes to play around with height and dimension by lining items up, and even stacking them on top of each other. “I may even throw in a plant here and there,” she adds. A great rule of thumb to follow when styling a shelf is to make sure you add some visual relief. Consider putting a camera or bowl on top of a stack of books, and note that every book doesn’t have to stand vertically.

Credit: Courtesy of Floyd

Perfect the balance

“Pretend it’s like a scale,” Fahmy says. Make sure all your decor feels balanced and evenly displayed so that the finished product doesn’t look off-kilter. You don’t want your decor to be heavier on one side than the other. Don’t be afraid to space things out, so that your shelf looks put together, not cluttered.