Shelf Styling Tips That Are Actually Helpful

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hobby Lobby. All opinions are 100% mine.

Learn tips and tricks to style your shelves to perfection. Whether you are decorating open shelves in the kitchen, a side table, bookcases, a fireplace mantel or any other area, these basic principles will help you create a pleasing display in your home.

how to decorate open shelves in the kitchen

I love the open shelves in our kitchen. They’re one of my favorite places to decorate! As I’ve faced the challenge of decorating shelving in a cohesive way, I have picked up a few tips and tricks and I’m going to share them all with you today!

It can be tricky to put these ideas into words and I don’t claim to be a professional. I’ve just had many friends ask for help with this subject over the years so I hope this will be helpful to you as you try to make your house a home. And please remember that if it makes you happy and you love it, it’s “right.”

Shelf Styling Tips and Tricks

Make Zig Zag Lines

When styling a shelf, if you drew an imaginary line between the tops of each item, the goal is to have them make a zig zag pattern. This creates visual interest and keeps the eye moving around the vignette.

shelf styling tips

Distribute Color

Color is a powerful way to unify any type of decor. In this photo, you can see how the rich blue color is spread throughout the shelves and counter. This makes the design feel cohesive and unified. You can definitely use more than one color, just think about where each colorful item is placed in relation to other objects of the same color.

shelf styling tricks distribute color

Repeat Elements

Another way to unify a collection is by repeating certain elements. For this display, I used a lot of wood and white ceramic elements and once again tried to spread them evenly throughout the area. If all of the wood pieces were on the same shelf or on one side, the design would feel lopsided.

how to style open shelves

Create Layers

Instead of lining up all of your objects in a row, try creating layers. A wooden charger behind a blue plate behind a vase full of blueberries adds a lot of visual depth. If you look closely at the photo of the entire shelf, you’ll see that nearly everything is behind or in front of something else.

home decorating tips layering items

Stack Items

Stacking items on top of one another is another way to add interest to a display. A vase on top of a stack of plates, finger bowls on top of a tea towel, a smaller bowl nestled inside a larger one… these are all examples of stacking and they add so much character to the design.

how to decorate the kitchen with stacked items

Add Living Elements

I kill plants, so I buy fake greenery! If you have a green thumb, lucky you. Add real plants to your vignettes! But for the rest of us, any organic, green, growing thing will make your display come alive… even if your plant is made of plastic and technically dead. LOL. Succulents, textural ferns, cacti, topiaries, bushy greens, leafy garland, flowers or dried flowers all give the display color and texture and life.

shelf styling add greenery

Stand Back and Critique

It took me a good hour to get everything on this shelf just how I wanted it. I would put things up, then stand back and look at it, then make some tweaks, then stand back and critique it again. I kept moving things and making changes until everything felt balanced, cohesive, full but not cluttered, and just “right” somehow.

creating a kitchen vignette

Use Things You Love

You can do every step listed above, but if you don’t use items you genuinely love, the design will fall flat. Those stacked white vintage Pyrex mixing bowls make me weak in the knees. I’ve been obsessed with blue and white designs for years. That stack of plates? They were a wedding gift. I LOVE the things I put on display, so even if I get some of the technicalities wrong, I guarantee you I will smile whenever I look at these shelves.

We finished our kitchen remodel several years ago and my shelves have been styled pretty much the same since then (although I do switch out the decor for holidays). I was ready for a change, so I went on a Hobby Lobby shopping spree. The Hobby Lobby Spring Shop collection was full of awesome pieces. I seriously thought of probably ten different vibes I could have gone with. In the end, the navy and white with pops of wood won out and once I had that focus, I found so many great pieces throughout the store.

floating wood kitchen shelves

Just to summarize, my tips for decorating shelves are:

  1. Make Zig Zag Lines
  2. Distribute Color
  3. Repeat Elements
  4. Create Layers
  5. Stack Items
  6. Add Living Elements
  7. Stand Back and Critique
  8. Use Things You Love

Here’s a full source list of everything I used in my shelf styling in case there’s anything you’re dying to get your hands on. If it’s not listed below, it’s either an antique or heirloom item or it’s only available in-store at Hobby Lobby.


I hope these tips help you next time you have shelves to decorate.┬áIf you have any questions, I’m always happy to help!


  1. I’m pretty much of the opinion that I have to love what I use to decorate. This post really shows the kind of things you love – it looks beautiful! I also like things to be in uneven numbers – I think I remember learning that in my college design classes. Plus it always looks less contrived when things aren’t all matchy-matchy.

  2. Love your designs. I get so many compliments on my designing capabilities and love getting new ideas. One thing I believe needs mentioning, always have only uneven items such as 5,7,9. This also goes for walls, flowers, tops of end tables, dressers. Even the leaves on my plants grow with uneven numbers lol. Thanks, Barbara


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