14 Aug 2017 46 comments

Mastering Open Shelving.

Here’s a fun fact for you: I have open shelving in every room in our flat, including the hallway! I find it’s the very best way of seeing all your favourite things, of creating a warm, cosy space that feels inviting and never cluttered.

Of course, it’s something that takes a little work – getting the shelves looking effortlessly styled whilst still having a bit of personality and not looking overly busy is kind of a mission!
When I first started working on styling shelves, I was horrendous. I cringe looking back at old photos (I mean, this applies to any old photos…), but I seem to have mastered the art by now. So let me show you how it’s done!

Strip It Back

If you’re going to overhaul your shelves, I always find it’s easier to just empty the shelves as much as possible and start all over again. Just bin everything! Kidding, don’t do that. Just take everything off the shelves – that way you can look at the space with fresh eyes and have a blank canvas to work with.
I like to collect a few decorative items and books and put them to one side so when it comes to piecing it all together, I have an idea of how it will all work.

Work With Height

Once I’m a little more organised, I start to think about the foundations of my shelves – for me, this is usually books and storage boxes and baskets. I think once you have a bit of height, the shelves really come together.
Stack a pile of books on a couple of the shelves, and then place a wicker basket or a pretty box here and there too. It’s easy enough to then build on these by placing smaller items on top of and around these starter building blocks.
I like to use the boxes from any handbags or sunglasses, it’s trΓ©s chic daaahlings.

There’s a bit of a knack to it, but it’s something you can pick up with a bit of practice! Once you’re done, it’s required by law to Instagram a #shelfie so make sure you do that as your last and final step – I’m only half joking.

Stick To Similar Tones

I like to keep a bit of theme when it comes to styling shelves because I think it makes the end result look a little more ‘put together’, like you’ve actually made an attempt at decorating here.
I usually choose blush tones (duh), metallic details and a few leafy green plants. Sometimes I’ll add in mint green or a lovely shade of cornflower blue to balance it out a little – it’s always ideal to have balance… and it keeps the boys from complaining, eye roll.

Choose Your Favourite Pieces

One of the reasons I love open shelving so much is because it gives you a chance to show off your favourite ornaments, fragrances, accessories, frames etc. – the things that bring you joy!
On my office shelves I have introduced a few favourite candles and a much loved handbag amongst the more practical workspace items. It makes the room look a lot less ‘boring office space’ and more ‘my spending habits are out of control’.

Less Is More

There’s a really fine line between organised clutter and anxiety-inducing mess! I think the secret is to lean towards a more minimal approach, so quit when you’re… behind. By that I mean, it’s better to have it looking under-styled than too OTT.
I usually work in odd numbers, so I’ll split each shelf in to three parts and style mini sections to keep things interesting but never overdone.

Change It Up

It’ll take some time to get your shelves looking perf, so spend a little while arranging and rearranging them. I like to move things about a little and I usually take a couple of photos on my phone of the finished result each time so I can see what works best.
Once you’re happy, you can also give the shelves a little reshuffle every few months to breathe life in to the space – it’s more economical than buying new ornaments etc., and it does the same job.

Will you be trying these steps?

Shop the Post

  • charlotte samantha

    You’ve got this down to a T. Bookmarking this post ready for getting out house next year!

    CharlotteSamantha // http://www.charlottesamantha.co.uk

  • I loved your video where you went through how you organise your open shelves! I found your tips so useful and inspired me to shake up my own bookshelf and make it more picture worthy πŸ™‚
    Elizabeth || Liz Living

  • Nikolett Gyaraki

    I really like open shelves, and yours are beautiful, but my flat gets dusty very easily and quickly, so unfortunately this is not the best for me. πŸ™

  • Love these tips, and always love your shelf styling too! Coffee tables are the one i’m working on right now!

    Mel x mediamarmalade.com

  • Julia Deutschen

    You are defenitely the Queen of styling open shelves.
    You can make them look so beauitful and stylish, so this post is really helpful for all of us who still struggle with the stylish part.

    xx Julia


  • I’m obsessed with your home decor, Kate! Such great tips here for open shelving, unfortunately we don’t have room for as much as I’d like, but I’m definitely going to move things around a little to have a little refresh! xxx


  • Beautiful as always. You should charge big money to decorate peoples homes. x


  • Absolutely obsessed with your interiors posts – they’re always so beautiful! I love open shelving but I’m never quite sure where to start, I feel like it just ends up a mess when I try. We have just moved into a new flat though so I’m hoping to pick up a nice one and give it a go – love the tips! xxx

    Sophie | Sophar So Good

  • Love this post! I feel like you really are the master of dressing shelves

    Freya | freya-ella.blogspot.co.uk

  • You’re the shelving queen. They look so gorgeous!

    Jen, Velvet Spring x

  • Shelf is beautiful.


  • Loved this post! When I move out I have so many ideas for open shelving, and yours always makes me get butterflies of excitement for when I do finally move out! xx


  • Haha we all cringe at old photos of everything – ourselves…shelves! I always think with open shelves don’t you end up having to dust a lot? Like A LOT?! Or is that just me being lazy! xx

    Frances Kayleigh | Style Beauty Travel

  • Totally bookmarked! I’m redoing my entire house right now and this is an awesome list for shelving. The art of less is more… sigh! Love your set up too!

    xx, mel

  • Open shelving looks lovely if it’s styled properly (like what you’ve done), but I can’t get past the dust that collects on open shelves. I hate dust, so open shelving would be a no-no for me unfortunately πŸ™

  • Loved this post!! Honestly can’t wait until I moved out into my own place and style it the way I want 😚

  • I have found a new love in all things shelving. I used to think shelves are old school because for the longest time there was Just very few modern inspirations for them. Not that there’s contemporary options everywhere, I’m obsessed with them! Definitely found new inspo to transition all my shelves to open shelving now. I absolutely love them. Great tips! 😻

  • ninegrandstudent

    I do love open shelves – I’m trying to persuade my other half to let me have control of the set over our TV right now!

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Lifestyle Blog

  • You’re the decor queen! I’ve been wanting to get new furniture for my bedroom, I’m sure I’ll get a big shelf, especially because my books are kept in a wardrobe and I hate that I can’t see them or use them as decor.

    | http://www.noirettediary.com |

  • Lucy Neve

    Love this! Your house is stunning, can’t wait to have my own house to decorate!


  • You are the master of shelves… I’m desperate to get some shelves to style in my house but I keep putting off buying nice things because it’s rented. Need my own house to do what I want with!!

    Gemma Louise

  • Love these tips! I’ll definitely be applying them as I decorate my own shelving unit. I also love blush tones and metallics (gold, especially)…it’s such a beautiful combo!

    Mia | http://www.verymuchmia.com

  • I’m moving into a new place this coming up Saturday, so I’m definitely going to keep these tips in mind when I start to put everything away!

  • Great tips! I always having trouble sticking to a theme because my books are all different colours haha

    TFM Life & Style blog

  • Thank you so much for these great tips, Kate! <3 πŸ™‚ Your interior decorating tips are always so helpful! And your house is just gorgeous!

    XO, Elizabeth

  • i adore open shelving and as i’m redoing my flat i really want to et a nice shelve for my living room and i hope i can decorate it as nicely as you.


  • I’m so jealous of how good you are at this. I think I would just never be happy enough with the result :p Great post! xxx

  • Lisa Autumn

    I seriously bookmark all the tips you give on interior.. you are the queen!

    xx Lisa | lisaautumn.com

  • This was very helpful. I have an open shelf I’m in the process of finishing up. I know I need to buy a few books, candles and decorative pieces. Hopefully it all comes together soon. Thanks for the tips!


  • This looks so good! I always feel like I end up overloading our shelves. Yours look lovely! xx

    Kelly | http://www.kellyprincewrites.com

  • I love your styling – what type of plant is that draping on in the third pic? I think my bedroom needs one just like it!

    xx Bry Jaimea

  • Girl you are the QUEEN of open shelving, looks incredible! x


  • Lizzie

    I am forever shuffling my shelves around, they just never seem quite right, I’m sure these tips will help. Your shelving game is off the chart!


  • Always enjoy reading your interior design tips, Kate! Can’t wait to have my own flat and be able to decorate it as I please. When that happens, I will definitely give open shelving a go as it looks beautiful and lightens up the space πŸ™‚ x

  • LOVE this post! Such a fabulous idea and great tips I can’t wait to put into action!


  • Love ❀️ love ❀️ love the simple and beautiful decorations! πŸ™‚
    Merci for the tips.

    πŸŒΈπŸƒLA BIJOUX BELLA πŸŒΈπŸƒ| By Mia | A Creative Lifestyle Blog

  • Allie May Redmond

    This is the best post ever! Saving for my future house because your place is goaaals. x

  • Shannon Clark

    LOVE this post! I’ve just moved into my own house so these tips are going to be really helpful!


  • Such helpful tips! That looks like the perfect shelf to fit everything on x


  • I really want to try this this in my bedroom, as I’m having a makeover right now – my only worry is that i have A LOT of books! Do you have any advice for bookshelves and how to balance them with other decor? This has made me want to try it, so a book sort through may be due!

    Bumble and Be

  • Daria Ed
  • Life.stylespiration

    I love everything about your shelves and definitely learnt something new. Thanks for the tips. Shelf revolution here I come))

  • We’re getting a bit more open shelving so might have to pop this across to my mum for inspo! Love how you’ve styled everything.

    Lauren x
    Britton Loves | Cruelty-Free/Vegan Beauty β€’ Lifestyle β€’ Photography

  • Love the first closet, where is it from?

  • Sophie Butcher

    Only just stumbled across this! We have shelves that I’d love to look this stylish but I always seem to cram full of magazines and books – thanks for such great tips. πŸ™‚

    Sophie x