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11 Trending Shelf Décor Ideas

Take a cue from these shelfie masters and transform your rooms by re-imagining your own home's shelf life.

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Unexpected Art

Floating shelves and open shelving in kitchens have been hot for years, making homeowners choose which items to store or sit out to avoid clutter. This vignette from Kate Arends of Wit & Delight marries form with function. Beautiful pottery holds go-to ingredients, and tiny, framed visual artwork makes it feel like an installation, not a messy spice rack.

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Shelves with potteryCourtesy of Jeff Johnson

Downtown California Modern

Interior designer Erika Ludwig of Humboldt House Design helped re-imagine a contemporary urban condo. Small spaces require a sense of airiness while keeping messes to an absolute minimum. But that doesn’t mean your shelving has to be without meaning. The homeowners collected the pottery here in their worldly travels, and the books came from their beloved collection. Packed with memories, but not visual clutter.

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Mid-Century Pastel Pop

The husband-and-wife team Bill and Kara Kurth at Golden Age Design have mastered the architectural design philosophy, even when working with non-traditional color palettes. Here they show how you can fill floating shelves without looking messy, by coordinating a poppy pastel color palette, mixing materials such as live plants and pottery, and using materials creatively (see those bookends turned sideways?). Their Instagram, @goldenagedesign also is chock-full of light, bright, beautiful interior design inspiration.

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More is More

Jewelry designer, doctor of decorative arts and caretaker of the archive of legendary designer Bonnie Cashin, Stephanie Lake‘s philosophy is maximalist. Her bold, beautiful library of art and design books, surrounded by artworks themselves, creates a museum-worthy living room. She says of her shelfie style: “Every vignette is a memoir. Every object tells a story and these should fall under the following categories: cherished memories, tall tales, flights of fancy, accomplishments. And never block access to the books.” Note the art lights installed above to spotlight the beautiful works.

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Rainbow Connection

Who can resist the joy that a ROY G BIV arrangement can bring into your life? Teacher and See Mom Work writer Kelly Ann Barrick painted the walls navy blue, built a bookshelf from cedar shelves and pipes, then filed her library in rainbow-color order to reflect the true spectrum.

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Top Brass

Photographer/interior designer Katie Howie has a knack for balancing earthy and glam influences in her design. Somehow, her maximalist tendencies have an element of restraint. This geometric brass shelf absolutely sings on its own, but the black-and-white accessories bring a graphic pop that neither overpowers nor underwhelms — the perfect supporting cast to the star of the show.

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Spa-ctacular Shelving

Interior designer and writer Zeb Carlson has mastered the art of the bathroom shelfie, starting with, well, the shelf itself. The black wicker sets off the pink mid-century tile. And editing all the storage jars and beauty-product picks to only black-and-white packaging keeps a small space from feeling cluttered or slapdash. Greenery matches that adorable, eclectic snail and ties the whole look together. Don’t be afraid to hang quirky cool art pieces above the shelf, too!

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Small-Space Smarts

Don’t forget about any bitty built-ins you might have in your home. Katie Howie brilliantly maxes out her bedroom shelves by turning her jewelry into art. Functional art bins house all her earrings and smaller things. Bracelets find their homes in fancy bowls. And sentimental pieces of art, from photos of her kids to a framed wedding invitation, are sprinkled throughout.

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Tiny Beautiful Things

Photographer and filmmaker Leslie Plesser knows a thing or two about creating the just-right vignette for a shot. This one is so beautiful in its simplicity, like a modern still life painting. It embodies the best of natural light and the natural world, gently adorned with a few specially chosen, small-scale items. Notice the color of the vases enhances, rather than competes with, the color of the flowers.

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Make a Mood

This striking collection from Stephanie Lake really sets a mood for a room, even though the objects are mostly neutral colors. The edited collection reflects a love of natural materials and colors, and feels so evocative. Notice how the edges of the gold photo frame and the facets of the geode have such a beautiful textural interplay, while the art that hangs behind anchors the whole collection.

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.