Seven Easy Steps to a More Stylish Home (and My Own Fall Shelf Decorations)

If you've ever struggled with styling shelves, this post breaks it down step by step! Click through to the post and get ready to style your shelf decor beautifully!

I've said it before, but I really struggle with interior design. Yes, I am aware that I maintain a home decor blog. There are times when the infinite potential of a room paralyzes me; I don't know what to do first, and I'm paralyzed by the freedom that affords me. Eeeek Pressure When this occurs, I find it useful to establish a set of guidelines—a sort of formula—to follow in order to stay on track.

Consider my floating shelf setup. At least four times a year, I take them from bare shelves to something like this, and while I only show the end result on the blog, there are many steps involved in getting there.

Styling Shelf Decor for Fall |

Although I am by no means a "styling expert," I have developed a sort of routine for decorating these shelves. I figured I'd let you in on my little method in case you find shelf styling to be as challenging as I do. All right, here we go

1. Study

I don't just throw things on the shelves without considering what I might like. I did a simple search for "fall decor" on Pinterest before putting together my fall shelves, for example, and made a list of things that consistently stood out to me in photos that I loved. The final form of my list was as follows:

  • White-fleshed pumpkins
  • hydrangeas
  • feathers
  • wheat
  • wood tones
  • white/gray/neutrals
  • aqua
  • a lot of nuance
Styling Shelf Decor for Fall |

No, I don't think that things like red and orange and lots of leaves are "wrong" just because they weren't on my list. In fact, you might find that they are the perfect complement to your personal taste. Spend some time looking at pictures of other people's homes to figure out what elements you find appealing. As a result, I am better able to predict what I will enjoy from my own collection.

Shop inside the walls, second.

When I have a specific list of what I need, I go through my home one room at a time to see if I can find it. In order to better evaluate what I have and what I will actually use, I like to bring everything I can find down to my living room. Since I have trouble imagining how things will look once they are in place, I prefer to try out potential arrangements by actually putting them up on the wall.

Styling Shelf Decor for Fall |

It's not uncommon for me to have to rework what I've got so that it fits a particular area. For this lantern, for instance, I had everything I needed, but every pumpkin in the store was a different vibrant hue. After a quick spray of white paint, they matched my intended aesthetic perfectly.

For the most part, I try to make do with what I already have, but if I've exhausted my options and there are still blank spots on my shelves, I may give in and buy a new accessory or two.

Third, pick the leaners ”

There is no set order for or even simultaneous occurrence of steps 3-5; however, because my "leaners" are typically larger objects, I begin with those. I mean, what the heck are leaners?" Possible Questions: I doubt that's the correct term, but it's what I use to describe the items that prop up my shelves against the wall and usually take up the deepest shelf space.

Styling Shelf Decor for Fall |

The big guy up there is my leaner. It adds dimension to the arrangement as a whole and serves to "ground" the various elements. I have also used wreaths, two frames placed next to one another, mirrors, and bunting as leaners in addition to larger ones. Many different types of wall decor, such as plates, tapestries, and even old windows, make excellent leaners.

Put the taller items toward the ends.

Look at all my specialized terminology! Tall stuff How stylish and competent! That, however, is what my job entails. As a visual framing device and a source of visual equilibrium, I find that higher shelves at the ends of a wall of shelves is highly desirable. Natural materials like flowers, sticks, and twigs work great for this.

Styling Shelf Decor for Fall |

When I need more height, I'll sometimes stack a vertical frame on the end, or use a tall decorative item like a lantern or tchotchke atop a book. While there are times when I deviate from this "rule," tall things on the ends tend to be my preference.

5 Build it up layer by layer

Then, once I have my leaners and my tall stuff in place, I start layering and filling in the spaces in between. I'm aware that that's about as vague a recommendation as it gets, so let me share a few things I try to remember when I'm piling on the layers:

  • To make the shelves look more uniform, I use what I call "repeaters," or multiple instances of the same object in different locations. Feathers, white pumpkins, off-white candles, and twine were used as repeaters on my autumnal bookcases.
Styling Shelf Decor for Fall |
  • In my mind, three is a magic number (or five). The human eye seems to prefer groupings of odd numbers, but I can't explain why. When I arrange things, I often "cascade" them downward, meaning that one object will be tall, another will be medium, and the third will be short.
Styling Shelf Decor for Fall |
  • I stagger the heights of the objects. To achieve this layered effect, I stagger the placement of some items on the shelves, bringing them closer to the back, and bringing others closer to the front. Having multiples of the same thing—like multiple vases filled with the same flowers—lined up in a row is one exception I've seen that can look beautiful. When I can, though, I switch up the depths
  • The frames are stacked one upon another. This is a simple method of layering, and most people already have a few frames of varying sizes lying around. I usually just put a simply patterned piece of paper, wrapping paper, gift bag, etc in the back frame to add a splash of color, and a more detailed print or photograph in the front frame to fill in the details.
Styling Shelf Decor for Fall |

The incredibly gifted Bre over at Rooms for Rent is giving away this gorgeous autumn arrows print for free. Pick it up right here! }

  • Texture is one of my favorite things ever. You can add depth and a finished look to your shelves by incorporating a variety of textures, such as feathers, the twine, the wheat, and the balls used to fill the lantern.

Six, reorganize until everything fits perfectly

In fact, this is the whole point. When I style shelves, I usually spread out the process over several days. Then, as I pass by, I'll notice that something isn't quite right, and I'll rearrange the furniture accordingly. I know I'm finished with something when it has sat for two days without my attention. 🙂

Seventh, get a second opinion.

Before I declare my shelves complete, I will sometimes ask Donnie or my mom and sister if anything looks "off." Sometimes they notice something I've been staring at for so long that I've completely missed. Frequently, they will suggest something I had overlooked. More than one mind can often solve a problem

Styling Shelf Decor for Fall |

I get that there is more "art" than "science" involved in shelf styling, so it's tough to make blanket recommendations like "every shelf should have this and not this." It's true that for every rule there are exceptions. However, if I follow this procedure, I almost always end up with beautifully arranged bookcases.

A wonderful day to you!

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