How to Style Open Shelves In 5 Easy Steps!

Today I’m sharing how to style open shelves in 5 Easy Steps!

How to style open shelves in 5 easy steps! Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

Do you even remember those DIY farmhouse shelves I made a few months weeks ago?  It’s been so long since I posted that shelf DIY I hope you didn’t forget the best part, styling them!

I was actually really surprised at how long it took me to finish styling the shelves.  The past few weeks they’ve either been totally bare, completely covered with all my craft decor, or holding random supplies I’m trying to keep out of reach of the kids (scissors, glue gun, etc).

One day last week I decided it was time to buckle down and just start.  These shelve are too beautiful to hold my random craft supplies {though I see a craft supply storage post coming soon!!}.

It’s REALLY hard to style open shelves!!  I honestly thought it would take me 10 minutes, I would throw a couple things up there and voila – beautiful finished farmhouse open shelves.

Well, reality check.  It took much longer than expected.

For a couple reasons:

  1.  I wanted to be extremely budget friendly
  2. I wanted to DIY as many of the decor pieces as possible
  3. Laziness
  4. I had to realize that the perfectly styled shelves didn’t exist and they could be beautiful without being 100% out of a magazine perfect

Plus, you guys, I didn’t want you to have to spend days styling your own shelves.  So, I used the lengthy amount of time it took me to come up with my 5 step process to styling open shelving!

Of course mine are styled in a neutral, farmhouse-style manner.  But, I believe you can use the same process in whatever style suits you.

I personally believe there is no “right” or “wrong” way to style open shelves, or to style your entire home, for that matter.  So, if you think this method is crazy, that’s ok!  If you’re totally clueless about how to style open shelves, that’s ok, too!  I hope you can find some inspiration or bits of advice to help you, even if it’s just in a small way 🙂


BEFORE you begin styling the shelves, you have to actually gather decor to put on them.  I’ll have a whole list of where I got my decor as well as what I DIYed at the end of the post.  So, stay tuned 🙂


Step 1:  Biggest Decor First

I found the best way to start styling open shelves is to strategically place your biggest decor items FIRST.

I had 3 large items I wanted to use on my shelves, so I placed them first making sure they were fairly staggered.

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

Are your eyes drawn to different place on the shelves?  If so, great!  I wanted to balance the look of the shelves so that one side wasn’t too visually “heavy”.

Keep in mind, my shelves are pretty long so on smaller shelves you may only need 1 or 2 larger items to anchor the shelves.

Step 2: Place Medium-sized Decor

Next, I filled in extra space with some bulkier items I was using.  These were smaller than the first step items, but still took up a bit of room.

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

I tried to place them close to the largest items.  Why?  I’m not sure, to be honest.  I think if everything was just equally spaced it would look like a grid!

For instance, having the  3 jar container and chicken wire basket next to the boxwood wreath frame gives you 3 pretty big items side by side.  But, that area is pretty much done!  You don’t have to have big, medium, small in a row.  Hopefully that makes sense!

So, don’t feel like you have to evenly space everything out!  Don’t be afraid to sit two bigger items next to each other in the step.

At this point, the shelves are pretty heavy on the right hand side…

Step 3:  Balance Out

This step is probably the most important, and the most difficult.  Creating balance.

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

I heavily focused on the left hand side of the shelves, adding several medium/small components.  To the right, I only added a small white pitcher and galvanized pail.

I also started to create some layers in this step.  Having the white pitcher and the birdhouse in front of the metal tray creates a visually appealing vignette that in turn balances the bulkier items on the other side of that shelf.

Basically, where at the end of the previous step you could have a little imbalance on the shelves, at the end of this step you want to have a pretty cohesive look.  You will still have some small gaps on the shelves, but, the overall look is coming together.

Step 4:  Fill in Empty Space

This step is probably the easiest.  From the first 3 steps, you’ll have a few empty spaces left over on your shelves.  I simply added in some decor pieces to fill in those spaces.

Make sure to stagger the height of specific objects (like how I put the picture frame in-between the post and 3 vase container).

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

Step 5:  Add The Small Details!

This last step is probably my favorite.  I LOVE adding small details because I feel like that really gives the whole design a finished and cohesive look.

For these shelves, I used simple farmhouse elements, such as a little greenery and florals, some neutral kitchen towels and wooden spoons,  and a DIY decoupaged pot.

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

 

That’s the whole process!  Not too bad, huh?

Here’s a few more shots of the finished shelves:

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.


Here’s the source list for everything you see on the shelves:

Asterisks denotes affiliate links; this color indicates my own DIY  

How to style open shelves { in 5 easy steps } . Perfect tips and inspiration to style your own shelves in whatever style you want.

  1.  Vase found in my basement when we moved in (my husband’s grandmothers!) –> so happy we could include this!
  2. Decorative Antique Silver Finish Tray*
  3. White Washed Wooden Lantern (from a sponsored post from At Home –> Summer Farmhouse Mantle )
  4. DIY Farmhouse Style Decoupaged Pots
  5. Simple Farmhouse Frame
  6. Soooo mad I lost the receipt for this.  It was purchased at Michaels, part of their Sophie by Studio Decor collection.  I cannot find it on their website.  But here is a similar item* 🙂
  7. Upcycled wreath + frame
  8. Another Michaels purchase not on their website!  Label says “Boho modern container” by Studio Decor — inserted flowers similar to this
  9. Chicken wire basket from At Home stores (no longer available).  Similar item here* and here*.  Added a few faux rose blooms to the metal tins.
  10. Tea light holder with a ball candle inside
  11. Distressed White Frame from Michaels (ArtMinds brand, can’t find online)
  12. Wooden Candle Holder that I painted with chalk paint and stuck another faux rose bloom in the top
  13. White Vase with two wooden spoons inside that I had on hand
  14. Galvanized metal pail from Michaels (part of their spring collection so not sold anymore) similar item here  —  inside I rolled up 3 kitchen towels
  15. DIY to come soon 🙂
  16. Cake Stand from Home Goods
  17. DIY Farmhouse Style Decoupaged Pots
  18. Mason Jar “Choose Joy” Display
  19. Terracotta pot with saucer that I whitewashed
  20. Faux Sage
  21. DIY Photo Display {Using Copper Wire and Clay}
  22. Galvanized metal pail from At Home no longer available (similar here)
  23. Philodendron Plant (no link here, ladies!!  Live plant from a local nursery)

Phew!! That’s a long list!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions you may have about any of these products, how to style open shelves in 5 easy steps or any other question you may have about the farmhouse shelves in general.

Wishing you a joyful day!

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10 thoughts on “How to Style Open Shelves In 5 Easy Steps!

  1. Looks amazing! I tried some designs at home with my shelves but looks like a two-year-old popped some cups and some random stuff on. I’ll try to follow the steps you suggested to make them look fancy.

    Can I just say your website looks absolutely beautiful! The fonts that you use in your images to the banner so feminine and delicate!

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