Dec 20, 2021 | Samuel Albert

How Do You Decorate a Display Shelf?

Whether you have wooden floating shelves or cubicles installed, metal-framed ones, or glass shelves, a display shelf is the center of attraction to any home. It is the first thing your new neighbor or an unexpected visitor notices when they come into your home. It is the first impression made, so better make it a good one. 


  1. Paint the shelves.
  2. Choose the items to be displayed on the shelf.
  3. Descending order is the rule for display.
  4. Experiment with horizontal and vertical placements wherever possible.
  5. Play around with the texture and hues of the color.
  6. Don't forget the greenery.
  7. A place for things that are close to heart.

Pondering over the topic, I realize that the showcase at our home is actually an expression of our souls. They silently whisper, not to the ears but to the eyes of every single person who steps into your home. It is part and parcel of us. It doesn't necessarily have to be trendy or sporty and exhibit the most expensive things in the world. It just needs to be you when you put on your best dress and go out for the party.


Come, let's read on to find out how to put your best self up there.


  1. Paint The Shelves:  You can either choose your shelves' color to go along with the shade of your room or play a bit around choosing contrast colors. Of course, you can refrain from painting if your frames are made of glass. Otherwise, you can always try to give it a new look by choosing beige, black, or metallic colors or a combination of bolder colors that pleases your eyes.

  1. Choose The Items To Be Displayed on the Shelf:  Now that your racks are ready and freshly painted, choose what you would like to showcase in them. It may be a farewell gift from an old college friend that has been forgotten for decades or a collection of shells that you bought from a recent trip to Hawaii. 

Custom handmade vases or a DIY one you made recently recycling a plastic bottle can surely go in there. You can arrange the vases with some fresh flowers from your garden or just go with some dry flowers. Don't have anything to put on them? No worries; just keep those vases as they are. Photo frames with rustic borders, newspaper-woven or a printed fabric one, anything that you have in hand is good to go. 


Books are also an excellent choice. Your most favorite book that you'd read for the Nth time is definitely worth going up there. Candle holders holding aromatic candles or decorative ones, crystal, stone, or rock acquisition, wicker baskets, bowls, souvenirs, and your recent artwork (if not here then where), all of them can perfectly fit in here. If you have a collection of anything special, do not hold back. Go ahead and see if they fit in your space here.


Furthermore, you can just exhibit some now and keep the rest for another season or time. Also, you can periodically remove and add in more stuff as time goes by. Alternatively, give your shelves a complete overhaul if you're in a mood for one and change the whole style and look.


  1. Descending Order is The Rule for Display:  Start by displaying the largest ones first and then down to the smaller ones. As the biggest things occupy the most space, their placement is crucial. So, make sure to arrange them first and then go down to other things according to the size.  

When displaying, keep in mind that there should be a synchronization of the items. Never shy away from trying out something new. Your display talks about you, and it is an expression of your taste and style, which is rare. So, go ahead and follow your heart. You are the artist behind this style statement.


  1. Experiment With Horizontal And Vertical Placements Wherever Possible:

Books can both be placed vertically as well as horizontally. They add contour to your shelves, make them look very colorful, and give them a layered look. When stacking them vertically, go for embellishing bookends which makes in and of itself a showpiece.


  1. Play Around With The Texture And Hues Of The Color:

Smooth, shiny, grain, eggshell, matte, and satin are just some examples of textures you can consider. Exploring and trying various combinations of textures, colors, and materials are the general thumb rule for fashioning a display stand.


When you want to display your beach-picked shell collection, you can present them in the display in a small glass bowl or a tiny painted basket. When using baskets for this purpose, fill one-half of the basket with small smooth stones and lay your shells on top of it. If you have larger ones, display them on the shelves as they are. But, again, make sure their texture stands apart from their neighbor.


If the things you've chosen are uniform, remove them and add different objects. Try mixing and matching them with different textures and colors to create a rich appeal.


If you have displayed glass items in your display, then try adding light to them. You can also add a lighting element like a table lamp or fiberglass lamp. Alternatively, when you light the whole background, the light gives a warm look to the entire display. Talking about lights, try adding white serial bulbs to decorate the outlines; I'm sure you will fall in love with it.


To add more depth to your shelf space, try installing mirrors in the background. It will make the racks look large and roomy.


If you have glass shelves, go for delicate items to go on display. Clear glass shelves are easy to maintain and will never go out of fashion. They deserve a thumbs up and are always a sure success.


  1. Don't Forget The Greenery.

Adding potted green plants to the showcase is an excellent choice of decoration. Whether a simple plant, a bonsai, a creeper, or a succulent, the natural green adds life to your entire collection. You can add 2-3 plants of your choice and will never regret it.


Go for a fake plant when you have no time or energy to take care of the real one. They give the same visual appeal as the live ones. Now, you can rest in peace and be carefree about its maintenance yet enjoy the green zone.


  1. A Place For Things That Are Close To Heart:

If there is a place in your home that holds all that you treasure the most, it is your showcase. It is the face of your home, something that you are always proud of, something you care most about, and something which is a no-nonsense spot. Things from our life that have a story behind them, things that we cherish, not just to please someone else but what really touches our heart, go there. So be true to yourself. Keep stuff there that you love and cherish and would like to look at often. Nothing beats personal touch and choice.


Things to Remember When Arranging a Display Shelf:

  1. Don't Clutter: Rule No. 1 is not to overcrowd your shelves with a myriad of things that you can find. Sometimes, minimalism is the way to go. Depending on your furniture and home decor, feel free to take out or add things to your shelves. Leave comfortable space in between each item. Avoid cramming stuff in the edges. And don't hesitate to rearrange if you are not happy with the outcome.

  1. Save Your Buck: Sometimes, the things lying around in your closet drawers that are overlooked are the ones you need to bring to the limelight. You don't necessarily have to spend a ton on it. Frame your beloved's handwritten note or a handmade greeting card; now find a spot for it. What can be more special than your kid's favorite racing car or soft toy? Anything that has a personal touch and a story behind it can find a place in it.

If you absolutely want to do some shopping to fill up your shelves, shop sanely but slowly. Don't go panic buying or indulge in a shopping spree. Instead, slowly add the antiques and vintage collections to your shelves after each shopping episode. Go easy on your wallet and choose to shop at the thrift store, dollar store, or a nearby flea market rather than at an expensive outlet.


  1. Plant Adornment: When using plants for decoration, choose the ones which need minimal care. Hanging plants are a great choice, so are the ones with variegated leaves. Ferns, snake plants, and all indoor, shade-loving plants are suited to go up on your shelves. Just make sure they get some indirect sunlight and take them out occasionally for a sunbath and a light shower to make them happy.

  1. Revamp It Often: Once or twice a year, change how your showcase looks depending on the time and energy you have to invest in it. Completely empty the shelves. Change the appearance of the frames by either repainting it, removing some old details, and adding a new creative idea that you recently came up with. You'll be satisfied with the new facelift, and I bet the change from the dull, old to the vibrant new arrangement will uplift your spirit as well.

  1. Secret Space Saver:  If your kitchen is small and has less storage space, the living room display shelf is the best option for your wine storage. The wine bottles can be cleverly displayed on a wine holder or rack on your shelf and at the same time, find a place to store them. The same thing goes for your ornamental dinner set and designer or hand-painted cutlery set. It is an excellent place for ornate ceramicware as well. There is no reason for all of your aesthetic kitchenware to be kept inside closed cabinets. What could be a better place to showcase them than on your display zone?

  1. Variety is The Unsaid Mantra: Metal, glass, jute, porcelain, clay, fabric, etc., painted or raw, can be used for fashioning your shelves. Curating a display shelf depends on the color selection, the textures used, the depth effect, and the placement of meticulously chosen objects for display. Try adjusting everything that seems out of place from front to back, switching its places to create the best effect and outcome. Gather similar items together like candles, books, vases, and other such things. Place raw and bold items separately.

  1. Vintage Display: You can even display your granny's vintage tatted or crocheted doilies. Though they are a thing of the past, they still hold the rich culture and heritage in abundance and are a rare find these days. The ones that you find in your grandma's belongings can be framed and exhibited. You can also make doily luminaries and show off their intricate detail by doing so. They are perfect for flaunting your showcase.

Don't have any handmade doilies? Anything vintage you can find will be good to add here - an old camera, a desk clock, a miniature acquisition of crockery, buildings, or artwork. Make a DIY display of your old stamp collection and keep it on the display stand. Stand and gaze at your proud collection, which takes you down memory lane without a time machine.


Winding up, your home really is your own territory. It is a place where you have your own say. If you like everything green (from your dress to crockery), so be it. You're the boss here, and what pleases your eyes will be showcased. That way, you'll never be copying anyone else's style, and your shelves will look unique and extraordinary. So go ahead, roll up your sleeves, and get to work. Let's get started.


Wishing you all the best! Ciao!

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