top of page

Quick Tips: Open Shelving


Happy Friday, everyone!

Welcome to our design blog.


Open shelving is a timeless trend in design and a properly styled shelf can have a lot to say! Today we'll be discussing how to flawlessly style open shelving to express personality while following some basic design principles. These tips can be applied to any open shelving within your home.

1. Balance is your best friend.

We've mentioned it several times across other posts, and it applies to open shelves, too! Balancing the visual weight of the shelves together is key. As you add pieces and create small vignettes on each shelf, remember to take a step back to view your progress. You want all of the shelves to look cohesive and evenly-weighted.

Photo: Cost Plus World Market

2. Consider contrasting elements.

Try a contrasting look by keeping the majority of your shelf elements in a contrasting tone to the finish of the shelf. This technique works well with built-ins that are darker. The lighter pieces help to lighten the visual weight of the shelves. You can also paint the back of the shelf white to achieve a similar look.

Photo: Shannon Claire Interiors

3. Keep a consisted color scheme.

The danger of open shelving, especially in a kitchen, is having it look cluttered and unorganized. Staying within a single color family helps your brain to visually organize the shelves, making it appear less busy. If you do want to add an accent, using small green plants works great.

Photo: Studio McGee

4. Use an eclectic mix of items.

Even if you follow a color scheme, don't let your shelf accessories become monotonous. Plants and greenery, art pieces, and items with a metallic/shiny sheen can break up repetition and make your shelf a focal point. Differing textures and sizes can make all the difference!

Photo: If this is your photo, please let us know so we can give you credit!

5. Don't overcrowd!

Another danger of open shelving is putting too many things on the shelves. Stick to several focal points with paired accessories and vignettes, but don't feel like every space needs to be filled. Negative space can have just as dramatic of an effect.


Don't expect to have perfectly styled shelved in one day. It takes time to build up the right pieces and shuffle them around to get the right look. Happy styling!

bottom of page