Easy Steps to Style a Shelf

Easy steps to style a shelf (the BEFORE), featuring my Ikea Vittsjö shelves.

The before.

As part of my dining room update, I added a few Ikea Vittsjö shelves to the main wall for storage and to help ground the space. Up until now It’s sort of been a disaster (see above), but this week I finally buckled down and made it look a little more attractive instead of like a catch-all dumping ground. Styling a shelf is not my favorite hobby, so before attempting the project, I did a lot of reading to help me out. Here’s what I learned…

How to style a shelf in a few easy steps

1. Completely empty your shelves.
Clean them up and spread all of your items out on a table to see what you’re working with. It really helped me to see just how much stuff was actually on the shelves.

Easy steps to style a shelf, featuring my Ikea Vittsjö shelves.

2. Decide how you will use the space.
Which room is the shelf in? Is it going to be used for storage, or decor, or a little of both? Which items are absolutely essential for it and the way it will function in the space? These should be the items that you use on it regularly. I cleaned out a few books that we don’t read anymore, and try to keep the kids books in their own rooms (one has a bookshelf, and one has a reading nook).

Easy steps to style a shelf, featuring my Ikea Vittsjö shelves.

3. Set a focal point.
From those essential items, choose a focal point for your shelves and start adding items, larger items first, then smaller. For my shelf, I chose to put more visually heavy items toward the bottom, like the storage, wine, cat bed, and books. My higher up focal point is my bar tray, which serves as a functional and storage piece.

Easy steps to style a shelf, featuring my Ikea Vittsjö shelves.

4. Use functional storage.
My shelf is both storage and decoration, so I added in some visually beautiful storage options. The dog statue is actually a piggy bank, and the clear jar houses candles that we use for our candelabra on the dining table. I also use the woven baskets on the bottom shelf to hold my grocery and produce bags. The basket and fur on the bottom shelf also serve as our cat’s bed, even though she prefers anywhere but her bed (especially clean laundry).
Easy steps to style a shelf, featuring my Ikea Vittsjö shelves.

The after.

5. Add some flair. 
Now you can add in more decorative items, one-by-one until you feel your shelf is complete. I like to add in items that bring back memories for us, such as trips we’ve been on or special moments in our lives. And you can’t forget to add a little greenery too! My plant babies at the top and air plants on the bar tray are some of my favorite houseplants and have been with us for years now. I also like to hide my Sonos speaker cord behind the dark side of the shelf, so it’s not sticking out when you look at the shelf. A little clear tape holds it in place nicely.

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Do you have a shelf in your life that could use some styling? Do you have any tips to add? I’d love to hear!

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