Work­shop The art of the shelfie

Book­shelves are hav­ing a mo­ment with the ar­rival of the ‘shelfie’. Get your shelves ready for their close-up with our styling tips and tricks

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Vanessa Nouwens. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Wendy Fen­wick.

Check out the so­cial me­dia chan­nels of any in­te­ri­ors nut and you’ll find shelfies – pho­tos taken to show off care­fully ar­ranged dis­plays of books and ob­jects. Shelfies show us that book­shelves don’t have to only dis­play books – with a lit­tle bit of cre­ativ­ity you can use them to show­case a va­ri­ety of your favourite things. What­ever your style or shelf size, we have some hints to help you cre­ate a book­shelf wor­thy of a shelfie.


It’s al­ways good prac­tice when styling any room or sur­face to start with a clear, con­sis­tent colour pal­ette. For a shelf dis­play to re­ally shine, it is also im­por­tant to mix up the tex­tures of your dec­o­ra­tive ob­jects and to vary the size and shape of the items. Make sure you have a range of heights to cre­ate in­ter­est, too. It is of­ten said that you should only have things you love in your home, so we sug­gest a care­ful edit of what you have on dis­play be­fore styling. If it’s not func­tional, sen­ti­men­tal or beau­ti­ful, it might be time to say good­bye.


I rec­om­mend you start with books when styling your shelves. Beau­ti­ful books add so much in­ter­est to a space and the key is place­ment. Try stack­ing your books both ver­ti­cally and hor­i­zon­tally. Maybe lie two or four of your larger books flat, then lean some oth­ers ver­ti­cally. Mix up the po­si­tion­ing of these book piles by plac­ing some in the cen­tre of the shelf and oth­ers to the left or to the right. If you have smaller books, these can look good in be­tween some book­ends.


Who says art is just for the walls? In­cor­po­rat­ing art into your shelves adds per­son­al­ity and draws the eye to the back of the shelf, mak­ing it ap­pear deeper and more three-di­men­sional. Art also takes up a lot of vis­ual real es­tate that can be tricky to fill with smaller ob­jects. Along with any larger pieces, place your art at the back of the shelf with smaller ob­jects in front. It’s okay to over­lap art or framed pics and it’s fine for art to be a lit­tle ob­scured.


It may sound weird, but our eyes are drawn to ar­range­ments in odd num­bers. The sim­ple rule here is to style ob­jects in ar­range­ments of 1, 3, 5 or 7 – you’ll no­tice how much bet­ter they look. In the photo above I’ve styled a pat­terned can­is­ter, an iron dish and a shell neck­lace. It still works to have things stacked on top of each other, like the can­is­ter on the shell coaster, and it looks bet­ter to have smaller items such as the neck­lace dan­gling out of the dish and onto the shelf to show it off to best ef­fect.


Mix­ing up the height and scale of your ob­jects is im­por­tant. Just re­mem­ber that if an ar­range­ment isn’t work­ing for you, con­sider chang­ing the height or scale of some pieces. Nine times out of 10, this will solve your prob­lem. Re­mem­ber to stand back and look at your shelf. If it’s look­ing too busy you may need to edit by re­mov­ing some items. Maybe it’s too bland and you need to in­ject some colour? Re­mem­ber, some­times less is more. It’s okay to have some blank space on your shelf as this can give the rest of your ob­jects room to breathe.


While your book­shelf is in the­ory a stor­age space for larger ob­jects, it’s of­ten nice to in­clude smaller stor­age pieces. This could be in the form of dec­o­ra­tive boxes such as these beaded ones. I’ve also in­cluded a small can­is­ter for stor­age of tiny items.


Ad­ding the shine of metal to your shelf brings a touch of lux­ury and will catch the eye. While there are no set rules for mix­ing your met­als, it does look bet­ter when you stick to either warm tones such as gold, brass, cop­per and rose gold or all cold met­als such as silver and nickel.


Green­ery can add the fin­ish­ing touch to a good shelfie. Plants in­ject colour and a sense of life to an in­te­rior, so if you don’t al­ready have some, pick up a few pots, large or small, and get ar­rang­ing. Plants that drape or hang down al­ways look great as length links one shelf to an­other.


The per­fect shelfie takes time so don’t be afraid to play around with items. Maybe leave it for day, then go back and play. Some­times it’s the pieces you don’t think will work that make the look when you step back and ad­mire the whole. Happy styling!

“The per­fect shelfie takes time so don’t be afraid to play around with items. Maybe leave it for day, then go back and play.”

In­te­rior de­signer/stylist


Styled im­ages: Black beaded chan­de­lier, $399.90, from Wal­lace Cot­ton. Vigo wide shelves, $99.95, from Mocka. Tribal feather neck­lace, $150, from Lit­tle Ad­di­tions. Sea­grass bas­ket, $14, from Kmart. Nip­prig black chair, $229, Madras Aria cush­ion, $109, Denna fringe cush­ion (on floor), $149, all from Shut the Front Door. Carmine rug, $799, Barika grey ves­sel, $54.95, both from Free­dom. UBU black and white can­is­ter, $19.90, tribal ball, $29.90, both from Flo & Frankie. Souk cush­ion, $145, Sumba statue, $79, Ra­jasthani brass bell, $29, black beaded bas­ket with lid, $94.90, black and white beaded bas­ket, $79, Cloth & Co shell beads, $110, Ra­jasthani soap­stone trivet, $69, Ra­jasthani black stone dish, $175, Pa­paya striped vase, $119.90, Penny & Ben­net cards

(in frame), $9.90 each, all from In­die Home Col­lec­tive.

Soh black iron can­dle, $109, from Fa­ther Rab­bit. Rat­tan and shell coaster, $15, from De­sign House pic­ture frames, $20 (large) and $12 (small), both from

The Ware­house. Plants and other items stylist’s own.

Walls painted in Re­sene ‘Con­crete’.

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