When I style clients homes, or real homes for magazines, I spend a lot of time styling peoples surfaces. Shelves, kitchen counters, sideboards, console tables etc. It’s actually one of my preferred things to do. I clear things off, clean (yep, even those magazine houses have dust bunnies and coffee rings and unidentified sticky stuff) and then I create little scenes and groupings of pretty objects. I love my job. I mean, who wouldn’t want to faff with other peoples things…..?! (no? just me?!)
Denby recently got in touch to ask me to to share some of my surface styling secrets with you. They specifically wanted me to demonstrate my shelfie styling techniques using some of their new collections. When I am styling shelves it happens quite naturally, but when I thought about it I realised that I did tend to follow a series of rules when I worked. I decided to demonstrate my method in my kitchen, write down my process, and make a video of me doing it for you, because I am just that kind of a gal.
Details of my shelfie:
Whenever I style any surface, I always make sure there are are:
- Varying heights
- Interesting groupings
- Coordinating colours
- Contrasting textures
- Negative space
(I explain all of this in more detail in my free printable below.)
These shelves are in my kitchen and made from OSB and some simple metal brackets. Our local DIY shop cut them to size for us for free (many do this) so all we had to do was attach the brackets. They cost a total of about £15 to make, they make use of a tricky wall space in the kitchen, and add valuable storage. (My kitchen is super tiny.)
First, I cleared everything off, which is always the best place to start. Then I Imagined my shelves split into thirds. I place my objects either on the lines of my imagined grid, or in the spaces in between. I don’t know why the rule of thirds works so well but it does, most of the time!
I put the bowls in three wonky stacks to show off their colours (I also love a wonky stack! - a nice way to add some different shapes). Along the top shelf is my Natural Canvas jug next to a few of the Studio Craft ramekins (introducing varying heights) and my Moroccan salt and pepper holders.
I added some vintage books in a horizontal direction just to vary the direction of things, and add a different texture. I included some of my favourite small plants too. Plants are always the magic styling ingredient in any scheme - whether small shelf or large room. The vintage number 4 was from my friend Rune’s vintage stall at Faversham antiques market (a really good market).
A beautiful shelf or surface tends to have a mix of objects on it. I always think of surface styling in terms of contrasting textures. I ensure that there is some frothy foliage to contrast against hard surfaces like ceramics or hard backed books. I mix up shiny smooth surfaces with matt or spiky ones, living things with dried.
When styling a modern rustic look, use lots of natural textures and colours like I have, but the key is not to over-style. Allow space to keep things feeling light and airy.
I also consider colours. I love the pop of yellow in the book on the shelf, and perhaps could have echoed that elsewhere. Generally though I have stuck to an earthy ‘rustic’ 70’s palette of brown, neutral and green.
I personally love a PDF download so I have made one for you. It includes a more detailed step by step guide. Sign up to get it to your inbox to refer to whenever you want.
I took a little video of me styling my shelf so you can watch how I work. I actually had a really clear idea how I would style these shelves before I got started because they are in my home and I see and interact with them every day. If I was approaching these shelves for the first time in a clients home for example, there would usually be more faffing.
So, there you go, my shelfie styling method. I hope it can inspire you to have a play with your shelves or surfaces if, like me, thats the sort of thing that gives an inordinate amount of pleasure. Anyway, I am happy to answer any questions below.