Guest Picks: Step Up Your Shelf Displays
Stuck in a bookcase rut? Pick from these 21 accessories for eye-catching displays beyond just books
Sarah Macklem December 30, 2013
If one of your New Year’s decorating resolutions happens to be sprucing up your shelves, this ideabook is for you. As a professional home stylist, I commonly get asked to help clients style their shelves. Whether they have a built-in display space, a freestanding bookcase, a baker’s rack, floating wall shelves or a favorite hutch, they want specific product recommendations for items they can use to create a nice, neat, attractive display. Through many years of helping clients solve this problem, I have developed a list of go-to items that are the perfect shelving anchor pieces. Combine a few of them with personal, everyday items, and you’re sure to create a fabulous display. — Sarah from The Yellow Cape Cod
It goes without saying that books are the No. 1 staple for a bookcase display. If you don’t already have your own collection, these fantastic bundles of vintage books categorized and sold by color on Etsy are a fun way to start.
Where there are books, there are usually bookends. Interesting bookends will draw even more attention to your reading collection.
I love to use patterned wallpaper on the back of a bookcase or cabinet. It’s an easy way to create instant drama. This charcoal-gray paper with a trellis pattern is one of my favorites.
Preserved boxwood balls are a great addition to any shelf. They provide the look of a real plant without the upkeep or need for sunlight. If you have a brown thumb like I do, these are great.
Woven storage baskets provide discreet storage for those everyday things that aren’t necessarily easy on the eyes. Plus, you can use baskets to break up vignettes within a shelving display.
Simple black gallery frames with white mats surrounding candid family photos are, hands down, my favorite additions to family room display units. Leaning and layering different-size frames in a built-in media unit or bookcase creates a casual but eye-catching personal gallery.
When propped on a plate stand, an heirloom dish instantly becomes a beautiful and nostalgic display. If you aren’t lucky enough to have inherited a great set of vintage china, you can purchase pieces like this striking black transferware platter on Etsy.
Pottery is a fantastic filler for shelf displays. This bold black and white piece would draw all eyes to your shelf. Also note how the graphic stripe modernizes the look of the black transferware plate above if you pair the two pieces.
A simple way to personalize a vignette is with a typesetter plaque, like this piece from Ballard Designs.
Custom silhouettes are another charming, personal item that can be incorporated into a shelf display. This Etsy shop creates made-to-order silhouettes.
A serving tray set inside a bookcase or on a baker’s rack can turn any shelf into a bar for entertaining. A tray provides an attractive base for a collection of decanters, pretty cocktail napkins and glasses that complement your libation of choice.
Speaking of decanters, these beauties can be found on Etsy. I love the casual feel the custom, hand-burned cork labels bring.
These chevron lidded boxes are a great way to add pattern, color and storage to a display.
There is always room for a clock. If you have tall shelves, a mantel clock is a perfect large-scale accessory.
Beautiful glass canisters are a great way to corral and showcase personal items. It never ceases to amaze me how a small collection of quirky personal objects takes on an artistic form when placed in a pretty footed vase or canister.
Statues like this black horse provide beautiful silhouettes. Its curves would instantly soften a display composed mainly of rectangles (books).
Globe collections have been trending for a while. If you have a fabulous set already, grouping them on your shelf would be a cool way to show them off. If you’re looking to start a collection, try this one from Etsy; it has a striking color palette.
Plain white pottery is a great accent in almost any display. If you have special items that you are looking to showcase, but they’re not large enough to fill your shelves, white pieces like this can be used to fill in those empty spaces. This vase is large and substantial, but it won’t steal the show from your special things.
Doorstops are fun objects of curiosity to collect. If you’re looking for something unique and interesting, try this fleur-de-lis version; it’s the perfect size for a bookcase or cabinet.
Candleholders with battery-operated candles are another one of my shelf-styling favorites. They provide a soft glow without the worry of a real flame.
Regardless of what you use to style your shelves, the easiest way to instantly draw attention to your display is to light it up. This gallery-style spotlight is the perfect way to add ambient lighting to your space. Point it toward your shelf display for a dramatic focal point.
Next: 21 Rave-Review Bookcases
Next: 21 Rave-Review Bookcases
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