7 Tips For Styling Happiness-Boosting Open Shelves

September 6, 2019

How To Style Open Shelving | The Elgin Avenue Blog


Also! Lots of pretty pictures coming your way . . . !

Also also! This is the last blog post from me until late September, since Oli and I are about to hop over to Menorca to get married! <<< feels VERY surreal typing that!

Amongst my great passions in life, styling open shelves is amongst them. I know, I know, it’s a very noble pursuit ????

In all honestly, the news is full of chaos, and there are always plenty of soul-sucking things we could fill our days with, so, if there’s anything, no matter how minor, which puts a spring in your step, I say do MORE of it! And do it as often as possible.

Insofacto: more styling open shelves for me ???????? ha!

Having aesthetically pleasing things in my eyeline has always been a happiness boost for me. When I was little I’d stop in at jewellery shops to ogle the gems, and I never tired of drawing pictures. Colour, texture . . . all things ‘pretty’ . . . it’s always been a source of inspiration and energy for me.

I think, in part, that’s why I love visiting cities with lots of boutiques, or travelling to places with big wide vistas. It’s like my eyes are soaking in all the colours and details to fuel me up!

Do you find the same?

Anyhu, back to the asethetic question in hand > styling open shelves.

Lemons In A Pretty Green Bowl | Kitchen Styling Tips | The Elgin Avenue Blog

Oli and I were handed down these gorgeous great big shelving units from a dear  friend of ours.

They’ve lived with us for a number of years. In our old flat (which had ZERO storage), we used them as makeshift bedroom shelves/shoe cubbies/chaos units.

But with our new flat, they feel RIGHT at home! Like they’ve always been destined to live here.

With a fresh lick of white paint – courtesy of Oli’s amazing Mum! – and new handles which we picked up in HomeSense – these open shelving units got a new lease of life and it is now a true JOY of mine to style them up!

If you too have open shelves, or – like me – love to perve on other peoples’, I hope that these styling tips will be of help/delight!

7 Tips For Styling Happiness-Boosting Open Shelves

1 – Establish The ‘Right’ Amount Of Clutter (For You!)

White Open Shelving Unit With Multicoloured Decorative Items | The Elgin Avenue Blog

One of THE biggest things you can do to vastly improve any space is clutter-clear.

Just the thought of getting rid of things we no longer like/need makes me happy!

Shelves, I’ve found, have a habit of cluttering-up quickly.

Especially since the very act of ‘putting something on a shelf’ feels like clearing up. Don’t be fooled!

When I was re-styling these open shelves recently, I took every single item off of the shelves and lay them out on our kitchen table.

It was amazing how – with a completely blank canvas – I looked at the shelves differently. It was so much easier too, to have a swift keep/donate/toss session! We’d amassed so many little bits of clutter I hadn’t noticed.

The lesson?

When you’re planning on a shelf-styling session, first things first, clear out your shelves.

Then, make sure everything you want to KEEP is clean and dust-free. I use a microfibre cloth to give things a little polish up.

Once you’ve got your selection of items ready to distribute, you’re ready for step two . . .

2 – Choose A Colour Palette and/or Theme

Mediterranean Style Open Shelving | The Elgin Avenue Blog

This picture of Lauren Conrad’s kitchen shelving unit is constantly running round in my head. The recycled glass was a big inspiration for me when decorating our new flat, and I find myself gravitating towards the pretty turquoise hue often.

As I shared in my blog post about creating a consistent aesthetic throughout your home, honing in on a colour palette is so important. It links everything together and helps your whole home to ‘flow’.

For Oli and I, we love soft Mediterranean hues, and we’re inspired by our favourite beaches. Both here in England, and over in Menorca.

You can see from these open shelves that I’ve got slightly different colour palettes running through them, though they work in harmony with one another.

The first is white, with lots of recycled glass, clear glass, and pops of sage.

The second is white, with pops of pinks and gold.

Styling Open Shelves - Light Bright Aesthetic | The Elgin Avenue Blog

Styling Open Shelves - Light Bright Aesthetic | The Elgin Avenue Blog

If you nail your colour palette, I swear your shelves will look well-styled with barely any major effort!

3 – Sketch Your Shelves Out – What Goes Where?

A Guide To Styling Open Shelves | The Elgin Avenue Blog

Whenever I’m planning something visual, I like to have a clear idea of the look I’m going for.

I trawl Pinterest, flick through my Instagram ‘saves’ and create a mood board.

It may seem time-consuming, but I just pop things onto a simple Word Doc and save them as a PDF. Then when I’m styling open shelves, or any other area in my home, I keep my laptop close by so I can reference my mood board.

Here’s the one I drew up for these shelves:

Tips For Open Shelf Styling | The Elgin Avenue Blog

^ The images btw came from Pinterest and a few IG ‘saves’ inc. one of my fave accounts @_HarloweJames ^

4 – Play With Texture

Rattan Home Decor | The Elgin Avenue Blog

Texturrrre! Ahhh my heart beats faster for it!

We all have things we’re naturally drawn to, and for me it’s spaces with lots of natural texture and interest. I love linen, marble, raffia, wicker, detailed ceramics, wood, weavings . . . you name it!

If you have a flick through my Pinterest boards you’ll see that I consistently save images of Mediterranean-esque spaces. Complete with lots of layers and texture.

Colourful Open Shelf Styling With Pops Of Pink | The Elgin Avenue Blog

For these open shelving units I mixed lots of different textures, still always with the elegant bohemian vibe I love in mind.

Pieces like this stunning ice bucket from Kalinko really ‘pop’ on the unit. Layering irregular plates like these pink ones from Anthropologie brings some colour into the mix, and having consistent accents like gold frames or recycled glass helps to draw everything together.

If you like more of a glam look you could focus on things like mirrored surfaces, marble and velvet.

Whatever your taste is, there’s a mix of textures for you.

(^ btw, a sentence I never thought I’d write ???? ^)

5 – Sprinkle In Some Sentiment

Styling Open Shelves - 7 Tips | The Elgin Avenue Blog

One of my favourite elements of styling open shelves is bringing in a little sentiment.

Oli and I don’t have that many photos up in our flat yet (why is it always one of those things you ‘put off’?!), so it’s been lovely to incorporate some photos here.

We have pics with our friends and a few photos of us together. Including the one from the morning we got engaged ❤️

Seashell Styling Idea | The Elgin Avenue Blog

Also: random little objects! The shells we picked up at the beach may not mean anything to anyone else seeing them, but they mean a lot to me. Ditto for the Day of the Dead card I picked up in Austin, and the vintage enamel jewellery box Oli bought me for my birthday.

Treasures in my eyes!

OH and the ‘Love’ balloon we have on the top of one of the shelving units? It was a gift for our engagement. I have no idea how it’s still blown up(?!) but we love seeing it!

If you have objects which bring you a little joy, open shelving is the perfect way to display them.

6 – Use The Rule of ‘3’

Styled Recipe Books | The Elgin Avenue Blog

The rule of three works for so many things doesn’t it? Photographers use it to frame photos, and my friend Claire (whose gorgeous blog is #interiorsinspo incarnate!) introduced me to it as a styling tip!

Put simply, for whatever reason, things look great styled in a cluster of three.

I always keep this in mind whenever I’m creating a group of objects.

For example, when I was styling these shelves, I stacked three cookery books at a time. And I created clusters of objects in a three.

I’m sure there’s science behind it, but I’m good with just saying it always looks lovely!

7 – Add Flowers!

Blue Ceramic Vase With Dried Purple Flowers | The Elgin Avenue Blog

Dried Hydranges in Pink | The Elgin Avenue Blog
Dried Eucalyptus | The Elgin Avenue Blog

NO surprises here! As you know, I love love love flowers. I’ll add them into as many spaces as I can.

Specifically when it comes to styling open shelves, a botanical touch brings the space to life.

Recently I’ve been favouring blooms which dry easily, since I know that the overall look will then stay intact. I’ve found hydrangeas and eucalyptus to be great for this. These purple flowers look amazing too but I have no idea what they’re called ????????‍♀️


Thank you for letting me share my great – very life-impacting – passion with you!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed scanning through my tips on styling open shelves as much as I have enjoyed rambling on about it!

In short: clear your clutter, choose your colour palette, style up in groups of three and put things you LOVE on display.

It’ll be a happiness-boost, I swear!

We are planning on adding more shelves into the flat, since after the wedding we know we’ll have many MANY more photos we want to see on the reg.

And I want more spaces to style – ha!


Are you a fellow open-shelf lover?! Do you fuel up on aesthetically pleasing places like I do?

I’d love to hear from you!

Love, Monica x

P.S. This is the last blog post from me before our wedding! I’m taking a few weeks off of all work, so I’ll be back here with you in late September. See you then ????????! x

Photography by Charlotte Bryer-Ash

>>> PIN IT <<<

7 Tips For Styling Open Shelves In Your Home - Via The Elgin Avenue Blog

be the first to comment!