Some people just get good style and don’t even have to try. My sister, Sarah, is one of those people. Every room of her house is fresh, clean, uncluttered, and bathed in beautiful neutrals, pretty fabrics, and natural light. What I really love though is that her style is functional and accessible. It’s not too trendy or busy, there’s purpose for where things are, and it is living proof that you don’t have to have lots of stuff on every wall and surface to live pretty.
While I was visiting her in Texas last week, I shot a few pics of her home office, mainly her beautifully-styled shelf (you may remember this photo I shared on IG). Sarah really has a knack for this kind of thing, so I asked her to share five things to keep in mind when decorating shelves and flat surfaces. I think with these helpful (and quite easy!) tips, you might be inspired to revamp your own bookshelves to create rhythm, simplicity, and of course, a prettier view.
Here’s what she had to say:
5 SIMPLE TIPS FOR PRACTICAL & PRETTY SHELF-STYLING
By Sarah Linden of thesarahlinden.com
1. Maintain Color Continuity
One of the best ways to create cohesion in your home is through color repetition. This is especially true for shelf styling when you’re trying to seamlessly mesh disconnected or random objects in the same space. I used lots of neutrals throughout, mostly white and soft tans, and small splashes of an orangey-pink hue you can see in the framed art up top, a book in the center, and throughout the books at the bottom.
A common styling pitfall is filling every inch of empty space with something so it doesn’t feel ignored. Instead of fearing negative space, use it intentionally to give the eye a visual break from other highly styled areas. If every cubicle on my shelf was filled to the brim with stuff, the clean and coordinated look I’ve created would fly out the widow, and I’d be left with a heavy, chunky mess. Maintain negative space by placing only a single object that’s proportionate to the space it’s filling.
3. Merge functionality and aesthetics.
I love pretty things SO much that I tend to value aesthetics over functionality. We all do this from time to time. But guess what – I don’t live in a magazine, and all the spaces in my home need to serve a function. So I do my best to make those functional pieces pretty. Every rattan basket on my shelf is filled to the brim with office supplies, but they still look great because all the crap is hidden! See how I’ve organized books inside wire baskets? Even our less-than-pretty objects can look cohesive if we think of creative ways to merge functionality and aesthetics.
4. Create height.
My office has 12-foot ceilings. You know who sells affordable 12-foot shelves? No one! So I created that height on my own using framed art and white branches that almost lead to the ceiling. (P.S. You can find that “Fight the Good Fight” art print here.) This technique also works in shorter rooms, and it’s the reason why we’re told to hang curtains just below the ceiling rather than right above the window. It’s a visual trick that works.
5. Consider a theme.
Themes in decor can become kitsch super fast if you’re not careful, so it’s best to think in minimal terms when creating a theme. My office has a coastal chic vibe due to the few beachy elements I’ve incorporated—rattan baskets, a piece of coral, driftwood, and a small lantern. I don’t think anyone would look at my shelves and think there’s a beach in my backyard (hey, a girl can dream), but these few objects help create the cool and breezy design aesthetic I’m incorporating in other rooms of my home.
Now, everyone, go get to work on those bookshelves of yours! And don’t forget to share in the comments which tips were most helpful for you.