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How to Decorate a Shelf

Shelves are certainly useful for storing and organizing your home book or magazine collection, and they are also great tools for showcasing your hobbies and interests. With a standing or wall shelf, you have plenty of opportunity to display a coin, shell or sculpture collection. Creativity is encouraged when it comes to shelf decorating, and you can add in some fun accessories like artwork and clocks, which turn your shelf into a focal point. Use assorted shapes, sizes and colors for an intriguing look.


Shelves easily display pictures of loved ones and favorite travel destinations. At west elm, our picture frames collection helps you choose the right size and color for your shelf. Thicker, heavier frames are best for standing shelves, which are sturdy and durable and can withstand extra weight. Lighter frames made of thin wood are perfect for hanging shelves, which are smaller and lighter than standing shelves. You can use a shelf to highlight one special photograph, or you can create a photography series. Framed pictures also look nice when paired with other collectibles like sculptures. If shelf height is an issue, dedicate the top shelf for displaying framed pictures.


You can also use clocks to draw attention to your shelf. Clocks are an especially good item for displaying on a wall shelf. Wall shelves, which don’t touch the ground, are generally used for storing and displaying interesting objects. Small clocks do not take up much space, and they add a nice vintage look to the shelf. You can also hang a larger clock above the wall shelf to make it look taller and stand out from the other furnishings. Choose a traditional white clock for a clean look, or get an exotic wooden clock for an unexpected finish.


Other items that draw attention are decorative mirrors. When placed above the shelf, decorative mirrors attract light from the room, which in turn draws the eye. Therefore, they can be a powerful tool for creating visual interest. Mirrors come in many styles and sizes, so you can choose the right color and shape for your shelf. A vintage round mirror or a few artisan mirrors in assorted sizes look especially stunning over a standing shelf, while a mirror with overlapping diamonds pairs nicely with a hanging shelf.


If your shelf is small or cluttered, consider decorating the wall above it with unframed prints and posters. Unframed posters placed over a ground-based shelf add height to the shelf without looking too tall. Unframed posters are also a good choice if your shelf contains delicate or valuable items, as they weigh less and will cause less damage if they fall. For smaller shelves, like floating shelves or wall shelves, putting a row of decorative textiles or graphic prints above the top shelf adds a nice touch. Prints with words and geometric shapes are great for adding to the vibe of a modern or contemporary room.


Another item that highlights your shelf is artwork, like dimensional art. Adding artwork to the wall above your shelf leaves room on the shelves for storage but still makes the room look more appealing. Art, like any other accessory, can enhance a theme or add visual contrast. Abstract art, which can be made from unusual objects like wood or metal, is a simple but elegant way to spice up your room’s décor without detracting from the surrounding furnishings. With a few pieces of dimensional art, such as woven or cascading wall hangings, you can add life to the area around the shelf without taking up space for storage.


Finishing with hooks and hook racks turns your room into a welcoming and inviting area. Wall hooks and racks help with storage and organization, and they can also serve as a point of visual interest. They are also a great way to display smaller items, like necklaces and other jewelry, that would otherwise go unnoticed on a shelf.

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