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Martin's Top Tips for Styling Shelves

Tessa Jones in How to Guides — 13.05.2020

Our shelves are the fingerprints of our interiors, no two persons will be the same. However big or small your space, we use them not just for storage but also to showcase our most loved possessions. Unlike other aspects of your interiors one of the benefits of styling shelves is that it's never a permanent change. Pieces can come and go as part of a giant mood board, reflecting changing seasons, styles and tastes. But more often than not a display that looks effortlessly curated is the result of hours of careful consideration and thought. With plenty of time on our hands at the moment, we can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than playing around, arranging and re-arranging our favourite objects. So, we have put together a helpful guide on how to get the most our of your shelves, including some top tips from our founder, Martin Waller.

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Photo: Divine Design

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Photo: Hollie Bowden

Start by deciding what it is you want to display. Half empty shelves can often look unfinished or over styled so begin by gathering together all of the objects you want to include, making sure you have enough to comfortably fill your shelves. This will also give you the opportunity to consider how wide, deep and high your shelves need to be, and which objects will fit where. As Martin suggests, start with the largest objects first, these will provide a framework for you to work around and fill in the gaps with smaller pieces.

Use of colour plays an important role in the overall look and impact of your shelves. It's worth considering the wider use of colour across the whole area rather than in small sections. For example, arranging a whole bookshelf by the colour of the book spines as Karv One have done above, can turn a generic looking bookcase into a design statement. Alternatively, gathering a a collection of objects in a single colour across all your sehlves is just as effective. Martin's display of white pots gives texture to the space and enhances the natural green of the plant, whilst Mary Douglas-Drysdale makes a unique style statement by incorporating unexpected white objects in her display of white books.

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Photo: Martin's collection of white pots displayed in his hallway

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Photo: Sculpture Study of Winston Churchill on Martin's Library shelves

It's important to not confine yourself to only using a bookshelf to display books. The key is to fill them with the things you love, adding in plants, vases and curios to curate a showcase of your favourite treasures each with their own story to tell. One of Martin's favourite pieces is a sculpture study of Winston Churchill by Ivor Robert Jones, which takes pride of place on his library shelves, breaking up the rows of books. Use your shelves to layer various objects and collections, so they act as a personal museum of sorts: a true reflection of your interests and your personality.

In the same way that museums and galleries display their priceless collections, Martin suggests grouping objects together by theme. This could be books on a particular subject, like adventure stories, or non-fiction books about nature. You could also dedicate a single shelf to a collection of similar objects, much like Lloyd Cook and his collection of statuesque figurines. These could be shells you've collected from beaches around the world, Buddah statues, candles or colourful empty glass bottles. Bringing these objects together shows a considered and thoughtful approach to displaying your possessions as well as creating a visually interesting display.

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Photo: Lloyd Cook

We're here to help. Call us on 020 3887 6113 or make use of our online chat for product and design advice from our experts.