Looking for ways to style shelves? Learn how to style open shelves with these simple tips.

I’ve been super inspired by ironstone lately. I don’t have any – but I really love that vintage look.

I started shopping around looking for different pieces at antique stores, some flea markets and searched Etsy.

But then it dawned on me…why am I looking to buy more stuff when I already own beautiful things to display?

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Using What You Have to Style Shelves

I have two sets of fine china – one that we received for our wedding and another that was passed down from my grandmother.

If you have fine china too, let me ask you…do you use it or do you keep it in storage waiting for that special occasion?

I wrote about this a few months ago on Instagram and the response was overwhelming.

Most of us keep it in storage and almost never use it.


farmhouse dining room with red walls, a farmhouse table set for dinner, and a black china cabinet and hutch decorated with red and white plates and knick knacks
The hutch shelves used to be filled with cranberry Spode. I started subtracting some out to restyle the shelves last year.

It seems we keep it in storage because we think we need a special occasion to use our beautiful things, but really…isn’t everyday special?

The time we spend with our children, our family, our friends…isn’t that time precious and special?

Why keep these things tucked away collecting dust?

We should use them!

But I digress.

close up of a black farmhouse hutch decorated with red and white plates and accessories

So anyway, I started thinking about this again because I want to restyle my hutch shelves from the Spode collection to Ironstone.

I stepped back and asked myself why I am buying new decor when I already have something beautiful that I tuck away?

Just as I started using my Lenox more often for everyday family dinners, I decided to decorate with it on these open shelves.

I have lots of beautiful pieces so why would I consider buying something new?

It may not be the vintage Ironstone I would like to have, but its ivory, its neutral and it is meaningful to me.

How to Style Shelves

How to Style Shelves

Before styling any shelf, gather items you love and want to display.

Choose items with different sizes, shapes and textures but try to stick with some sort of theme.

Start at the bottom and work your way up. 

I like to layer objects and create balance on each shelf to keep it interesting.

But ultimately, I play around with it and work on different combinations until it feels right to me.

How to Style Shelves
Instead of purchasing ironstone, I restyled the hutch shelves using my Lenox, greens and other natural elements. Depending on the season, I’ll swap out the greens and natural elements, but the Lenox base will remain the same.

When creating shelf vignettes I layer items in odd numbered groupings and vary the sizes, shapes and textures.

It’s important to keep a vignette or something you styled in balance.

For example, if one side of a shelf has a tall object, balance that tall object with something tall on the other side.

It doesn’t have to mirror the object but it’s more pleasing to the eye if there is balance.

When arranging objects, avoid straight lines and keep vignettes to scale.

Grouping several small items together can look cluttered.

Instead, add different objects with various shapes, sizes and textures to avoid cluttered spaces.

How to Style Shelves

Adding Final Touches to Shelves

After the shelves are styled with my favorite things, I always greens and florals depending on the season and shelf location.

Greens and florals, whether real or faux, help soften lines and add personality to spaces.

If shelves are located in a place where I know I do not want to water, I use faux only.

Fall Decorating Ideas
For fall, I swapped out the bird nests but added some more greens, fall floral stems, pinecones and other natural elements.

To me, there’s no sense adding something real to these spots if I know I won’t provide proper care to live plants.

Also, I consider whether or not I want to risk damaging shelves that house live plants.

In the past, I’ve experienced some damage that was not fun to repair from watering plants.

As a result, I don’t use a lot of real plants on my furniture.

For me, it’s not worth the risk when there are so many realistic looking greens and florals that are much easier to care for in these types of spaces.

Fall Decorating Ideas
To learn more about how I styled the dining room for fall, see Fall Decorating Ideas.

What Do You Think?

As much as I want to go out and buy things to create the looks I love, I am keeping it real and using what I already have.

For me, it makes no sense to spend money on this kind of stuff because I’d much rather focus on the plants, faux greens and flowers and other natural elements that I can change out seasonally to create my style of a cozy home.

How do you like to style your shelves?

I hope this post inspires a different approach to creating a good shelfie!

Send me pics of your designs or let me know what you think in the comments here. 

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How to Style Shelves

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling bricksnblooms logo

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