How to Decorate Living Room Shelves

Decorating living room shelves is a great way to add personality and style to your living space. Shelves not only provide extra storage, but they also serve as a decorative element in the room.

How to Decorate Living Room Shelves

With the right styling, you can transform boring shelves into a stunning focal point for your living room. In this guide on how to decorate living room shelves, we will give you tips and ideas to create a stylish and functional display.

Necessary Items

Before getting started, make sure you have all the necessary items to decorate your living room shelves. These include:

  • Shelves of varying sizes and shapes (floating shelves, bookshelves, etc.)
  • Decorative objects such as vases, candles, picture frames, and figurines
  • Books or magazines for added texture and color
  • Indoor plants or flowers for a touch of nature
  • Small trays or boxes for organizing smaller items

8 Things to Know Before You Start

1) Choosing the Right Shelves

When it comes to decorating living room shelves, the first step is to choose the right type of shelves for your space. Consider the size and layout of your living room, as well as the decor style you want to achieve. Floating shelves work well in smaller spaces and can be arranged in various ways. Bookshelves are great for larger rooms and provide more storage options. Whichever type you choose, make sure it complements your living room and serves its purpose.

2) Establishing a Theme

Having a theme in mind will help guide your shelf styling. You can opt for a color scheme or a specific style, such as contemporary, bohemian, or minimalist. This will ensure that all items on the shelves work together cohesively and create a visually appealing display.

3) Creating Balance

When arranging items on your shelves, it’s crucial to create balance. This means distributing the items evenly and avoiding too much clutter on one side. Use larger items as anchors and fill in gaps with smaller objects. Step back and evaluate the overall look to make sure it feels balanced.

4) Utilizing Different Heights

Prevent the Shelves From Looking Flat

To add dimension and interest to your shelves, use items of varying heights. This will create a visually appealing display and prevent the shelves from looking flat. Mix tall objects like vases or candlesticks with shorter items like books or figurines.

5) Playing with Textures

Another way to add depth to your shelf styling is by incorporating different textures. This can be achieved through items like woven baskets, ceramic vases, or wooden decor pieces. The mix of textures will make your shelves visually interesting and add a cozy touch to the room.

6) Layering Items

Layering is a great technique for creating depth and dimension on your shelves. Place larger items at the back and layer smaller objects in front to create a sense of depth. For example, you can place a stack of books at the back and layer a picture frame or candle in front.

7) Using Greenery

Indoor plants or flowers are an excellent addition to living room shelves as they add a touch of nature and bring life to the space. Choose plants that thrive indoors and fit the theme of your shelves. You can also use faux plants if you prefer low-maintenance options.

8) Rotating Items

Don’t be afraid to switch up the items on your shelves every once in a while. This will keep the display fresh and prevent it from becoming stagnant. You can rotate seasonal decor or swap out items for different ones that better suit your current decor style.

Decorating living room shelves is a fun and creative way to add character to your space. Keep these tips in mind, but also, don’t be afraid to experiment and make it your own. With the right styling, your shelves can become a standout feature in your living room.

12 Steps on How to Decorate Living Room Shelves

Step 1: Choose a Theme

As mentioned before, establishing a theme will help guide your styling process. Also, consider the overall color scheme of your living room and choose items that complement it. And don’t be afraid to mix and match different styles for a unique look.

Step 2: Gather Items

Gather all the necessary items, as mentioned in the previous section. This will give you an idea of what you have to work with and help prevent any last-minute trips to the store. If you’re missing any key items, now is the time to go out and get them.

Step 3: Clear Shelves

Your Shelves Are Clear of Any Clutter

Before starting to decorate, make sure your shelves are clear of any clutter. This will give you a clean slate to work with and ensure that everything looks organized. So take everything off the shelves and give them a good dusting if needed.

Step 4: Start with Larger Items

Begin by placing larger items on the shelves first. These can include vases, candles, or decorative objects that you want to use as anchors. Distribute these items evenly throughout the shelves, making sure to leave some space for smaller objects.

Step 5: Add Smaller Items

Next, fill in the gaps with smaller items such as picture frames, figurines, or small plants. These can be placed on top of larger items or in between them to create a sense of balance and add interest to the display.

Step 6: Incorporate Books

Books are not only great for reading but also for styling shelves. Use them to add color and texture, or stack them to create height variations on the shelves. You can also place a small decorative object on top of a stack for added interest.

Step 7: Use Trays or Boxes

To keep smaller items organized and prevent them from looking cluttered, use small trays or boxes. These are perfect for storing remote controls, coasters, or other small items. You can also use them as a base for grouping smaller objects together.

Step 8: Layer Items

As mentioned before, layering is key to creating depth and dimension on your shelves. Experiment with placing different items in front of each other until you achieve the desired look. Remember to step back and evaluate the display from different angles to ensure it looks balanced.

Step 9: Incorporate Greenery

Color to Your Living Room Shelves

Adding plants or flowers is a great way to bring life and color to your living room shelves. Choose low-maintenance options that work well indoors, such as succulents or air plants. You can also use faux plants for a no-fuss option.

Step 10: Add Personal Touches

Don’t forget to incorporate personal touches such as family photos or sentimental objects. These items will add a personal touch to the shelves and make them feel more like home. If you have children, consider displaying their artwork or favorite toys.

Step 11: Group Similar Objects

To create a cohesive look, group similar objects together. For example, you can display a collection of ceramic vases or vintage books on one shelf. This will not only make the shelves visually appealing but also add a touch of personality to the space.

Step 12: Rotate Items

As mentioned before, don’t be afraid to switch up the items on your shelves every once in a while. This will keep the display fresh and prevent it from becoming stagnant. You can rotate seasonal decor or swap out items for different ones that better suit your current decor style.

With these steps on how to decorate living room shelves, you now have all the tools to easily decorate living room shelves like a pro. Remember to have fun and let your personal style shine through in the process.

So why not try out these tips and transform your living room shelves into a stunning display that will make your space feel more inviting and stylish? Experiment with different items, textures, and styles until you find the perfect combination for your shelves.

Your Living Room Shelves Into a Stunning Display

8 Things to Avoid When Decorating Living Room Shelves

1) Cluttered Displays

One of the biggest mistakes people make when decorating shelves is overcrowding them with too many items. This can make the shelves look cluttered and disorganized, taking away from the overall aesthetic.

2) Unevenly Distributed Items

Another common mistake is placing all the larger items on one side of the shelves and leaving the other side empty. This can create an unbalanced look and make the display feel incomplete. So be sure to distribute items evenly throughout the shelves.

3) Neglecting Negative Space

Negative space is just as important as the objects on your shelves. This refers to the open spaces between items and allows for a balanced and visually appealing display. So don’t be afraid to leave some empty space on your shelves.

4) Using Too Many Small Items

While small items can add interest to your shelves, using too many of them can create a cluttered and chaotic look. Instead, opt for a few key pieces that stand out rather than numerous smaller ones. Even consider using larger items that can fill up space without looking overwhelming.

5) Lack of Variety

Having a display with only one type of item, such as all books or all figurines, can look monotonous and uninteresting. Mix and match different items to create a dynamic display that catches the eye. While grouping similar objects is important, be sure to vary them in size, shape, and color.

6) Poorly Placed Lighting

Shelves in Areas With Direct Sunlight

Lighting can make a huge difference in how your shelves are displayed. Avoid placing shelves in areas with direct sunlight or harsh artificial lighting that can cause glare or shadows. Instead, opt for soft ambient lighting that will highlight the items on your shelves.

7) Not Considering Functionality

While it’s important to have visually appealing shelves, don’t forget their functionality. If you use the shelves for storage or as a space for everyday items, make sure they are easily accessible and organized. Don’t sacrifice practicality for style.

8) Forgetting Personal Touches

Lastly, don’t be afraid to add personal touches to your shelves. These can be items that hold sentimental value or represent your unique style and personality. Adding a personal touch will make the display feel more personalized and authentic. 

With these tips on how to decorate living room shelves, you’ll be able to avoid common decorating mistakes and create a beautiful, functional, and personalized display on your living room shelves. Remember to have fun and let your creativity shine through.

So go ahead and try out these tips to revamp your living room shelves today!  Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and make changes until you find the perfect combination for your space.

8 Additional Tips for Decorating Living Room Shelves

1) Use Different Textures

Incorporating different textures, such as wood, metal, or glass, can add interest and depth to your shelves. Mix and match different materials to achieve a visually appealing display. But be careful not to overdo it – stick to 2-3 different textures for a cohesive look.

2) Play with Color

Shelves don’t have to be all white or neutral. Adding pops of color through decorative items or books can make your shelves stand out and add personality to your space. Just make sure the colors complement each other and don’t clash.

3) Incorporate Artwork

Shelf or Hang Larger Ones in Between Shelves

Make sure to expand artwork to just the walls – you can also display it on your living room shelves. This will add a unique touch and break up the rows of books and objects. You can lean smaller pieces against the back of the shelf or hang larger ones in between shelves.

4) Layer Items

Layering items, especially on taller shelves, can create a more dimensional and visually appealing display. This can be achieved by placing books or smaller items in front of larger ones or stacking them at different heights.

5) Use Greenery

Adding some greenery to your shelves can bring life and freshness to the display. You can use potted plants, fresh flowers, or even faux greenery to add a touch of nature to your living room shelves.

6) Incorporate Mirrors

Mirrors can not only make a space appear bigger but also add visual interest to shelves. You can lean a large mirror against the back of the shelf or hang smaller ones in between items. This will also help bounce light around the room and make it feel brighter.

7) Think Outside the Box

Don’t limit yourself to traditional shelf decor – think outside the box and incorporate unexpected items. This could be anything from vintage books to unique sculptures or even a piece of driftwood. Let your imagination run wild!

8) Keep it Balanced

Lastly, always keep balance in mind when decorating living room shelves. This includes balancing items on each shelf, as well as the overall balance of the entire display. Step back and assess your shelves from different angles to ensure everything is visually pleasing and evenly distributed. 

With these additional tips, you’ll have a beautifully decorated living room shelf that reflects your style and personality in no time! Remember to be creative, experiment, and have fun with it. So, what are you waiting for? Give your living room shelves a makeover and impress everyone with your impeccable decorating skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Mix Different Styles of Decor on My Shelves?

Absolutely! Mixing styles can create an interesting and unique display. Just make sure the items complement each other and are balanced.

How Do I Avoid Clutter on My Shelves?

Prioritize items that serve a purpose or hold sentimental value. Also, regularly declutter and rotate items to keep your shelves looking fresh and organized.

How Do I Incorporate Books into My Shelf Decor?

Showcase Your Favorite Reads on Your Shelves

Books can add both visual interest and functionality to your shelves. Try stacking them horizontally and vertically or adding bookends for a stylish touch. You can also face books with the spine facing inwards for a more cohesive look.  Remember to also mix up book sizes and colors for variation.  So go ahead and showcase your favorite reads on your shelves!

How Do I Create a Cohesive Look with Items of Different Sizes?

Try grouping similar items together and varying their placement. For example, you can place smaller items in front of larger ones or stack them to create height differences. This will create a more visually interesting display while still keeping it cohesive. Additionally, consider using a color scheme or texture to tie everything together.

How Can I Change Up My Shelf Decor Without Buying New Items?

Simply rearrange the items on your shelves. Try grouping items in different ways or moving them to different shelves altogether. You can also switch up the placement of books or add new decorative pieces from other rooms in your house.

Should I Use Floating or Mounted Shelves?

It depends on your personal preference and the style of your space. Floating shelves can create a more minimalistic look, while mounted shelves can add a touch of elegance. Consider the overall aesthetic you want to achieve before deciding on shelf type.  So go ahead and try out these tips to revamp your living room shelves today! Remember, feel free to experiment and make changes until you find the perfect combination for your space.


Decorating living room shelves can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to keep certain things in mind to avoid common mistakes. Use a mix of textures, colors, and items to create an interesting and balanced display. Make sure to also incorporate artwork, greenery, and mirrors for added interest. 

Be bold, think outside the box, and switch up your shelf decor from time to time. And most importantly, have fun with it! With these tips on how to decorate living room shelves in hand, you’ll have a beautifully decorated living room shelf that will impress all your guests. So don’t wait any longer; go ahead and give your shelves a makeover today!

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