The truth is, we’ve never stopped to identify the exact “formula” we use to style these shelves. But when we finally did, we quickly found out that both of us use a similar strategy and do have some key tips and tricks that we try to abide by as we work and re-work these shelves until they’re “perfect”. So today is all about exploring those tips and tricks with the Dos and Don’ts of decorating built-in shelves (or any shelf for that matter). As much as it may seem daunting to start from nothing, it’s helpful for us to take everything off and slowly tackle this job (even if we are just re-working them for a new season). Decorating built-ins takes a bit of time so we recommend you tackle this project when you aren’t feeling rushed (or distracted!). We actually enjoy the process of working and re-working our accessories until we find the “winning combo”, but have found that if we are tight on time or aren’t okay with the mess that comes with taking everything off the shelves, then the process quickly turns stressful.
Be sure to block out enough time, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine! You would be surprised at how often we are stealing these items from other rooms of our homes and falling so much more in love with them after seeing them on the built-ins.
We shop around our homes and magically we find an item that works perfectly!
Finding accessories around your home and breathing new life into them by pairing them with other items is half the fun for us. They add color, texture, fill space on the cheap, and are also perfect for adding height to certain accessories. I opted to use all neutral-colored books when styling these shelves, but this is a personal preference.
If you’re collecting books just to accessorize your built-ins, be sure not to spend too much on these decor staples. We both incorporate greenery and aren’t afraid to use real and faux plants. We don’t advise you to water the greenery while sitting on the shelf, especially if your built-ins are made of real wood. We encourage you to remove all of the greenery, water it, allow it to dry, and then place it back on the shelf.
This will ensure you don’t have any permanent water spots on your gorgeous shelves. It’s all about mixing and matching vases, boxes, frames, books, plants, and quirky accessories to create the layered shelf look that we love.
BUT, incorporating some of these pieces here and there will make your built-ins not only look good, but be meaningful to you and your family too. On this shelf, I added photo strips of Matt and I (such fun memories!) This blog post gives more inexpensive art ideas to fill your shelves. Again, it’s okay to shop your home, add pieces that are important to you and your family, and even thrift for some one-of-a-kind items.
Gold Frame // Wood Beads // My Fave Candle // Planter // Gray Box // Wood Platter // Picture Frames // Faux Plant Trio // Vase // Marble Bookends // Stylish Books You can see how we made these for our home office right here, plus more tips on how we styled them in this blog post.