How To Nail A Shelfie

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that one of my favourite activities is moving my furniture about.  There's something about a change around that freshens up a room and makes it feel, well, new.  It gives items that you thought had lost their appeal a new lease of life and seeing them in a new space can transform them.  It also forces me to get the vacuum out as by moving things about, I generally dislodge more dust and tumbleweed than can feasibly fill a hoover bag, not to mention countless empty crisp packets, random half eaten dog toys and piles of astro turf balls.

These are the shelves.  Joe did not put these ones up.  

These are the shelves.  Joe did not put these ones up.  

A good change around can be a hugely therapeutic task.  It's amazing what you can set your mind to once you get started.  Joe once arrived home when I was nine months pregnant with Ella to find me stuck in a doorway with an industrial sized microwave.  I've been known to push entire chests of drawers up staircases alone and I am always recruiting reluctant children to help me achieve the task in hand.  Last week, Max had a sleepover so I bribed all three of them with a 20 box of McDonalds chicken nuggets each to help me get a corner sofa out of the shed.  Child labour?  No, it's paid work.  With the double benefit that I don't have to make their lunch.  

But if you don't fancy quite such a drastic change, or if you want some instant gratification that doesn't involve splashing the cash to the kids or the risk of being squashed by a wardrobe, then updating a shelf is the way to go.  I'm a big fan of shelving as a way to make the most of your wall space.  Unfortunately, the words 'shelf erection' strike a chord of doom into the hearts of the Dawson family.  Joe has never been good at erection (no double entendre intended) and the last time he attempted such a task, it all went how can only be described as tits up. 

Yep, my style has literally not changed since 2011.  I just have a bigger kitchen.

Yep, my style has literally not changed since 2011.  I just have a bigger kitchen.

Our kitchen in our previous house in Caversham wasn't large, a 10ft x 10 ft square which needed serious updating and extending into the attached breakfast room.  This involved hard cash which unfortunately wasn't hanging around in our bank account and this, combined with my County Court Judgement for a £25 online Book Club fine dating back to 1997, meant that there was more chance of my husband being head hunted for the DIY SOS team than there was of this particular  home improvement occurring.  Always one to make the most of the space I had (and much to everyone's shock - this was 2009 and white gloss was the Holy Grail), I was convinced that open shelving was the way forward and ripped down all the wall cupboards. Inspired by the kitchens I'd seen on Apartment Therapy and Livingetc, I went off to B&Q and bought eight wooden shelves to put either side of the door and above the units.

 As a man to whom DIY comes as naturally as eating sand, Joe set his mind to the task.  Out came the toolbox. It became immediately apparent that the only tools in there were a drill bought for him by my parents when we moved into our first home in 2000 and a selection of surplus IKEA hardware.  After another trip to B&Q, the job commenced.  As a man confident in his own skills, Joe has always spurned the spirit level and this resulted in a slightly angled look that I decided was more acceptable than the stress that would be caused by removing them. 

For the finale in this display of Nick Knowles style manliness, Joe inexplicably decided to hang by his hands on the top shelf to show how solid they were, which resulted in all three shelves collapsing like a deck of cards. Needless to say, those shelves were Joe's last erection and since this episode, I've decided to invest in a handyman for such tasks rather than risk the drill coming out again.

So once you have your shelves securely up and with no risk of collapse, how to use them to their full advantage?  I've listed below five top tips for styling your shelves to perfection and transforming your space.

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Stack Up Your Books

This a favourite one of mine and if you follow me on Instagram, you'll notice that my book collection certainly gets around.  There's no rules to say that books need to be stacked sideways in the traditional manner.  And who wants to be traditional anyway?  Stack them in groups both ways.  They're a perfect base for displaying small accessories when positioned upwards.  I use coffee table books for this purpose and it's really effective. 

Colour code your paperbacks to create a pleasing display - you can even position with the book pages outwards for a toning effect.  Position them in small groups instead of filling the space if you are looking to add interest.  Shelves should be filled with multiple focal points so that your eye is drawn to them.  

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Bring In The Plants

Plants add that extra texture that are always a winner.  Green brings a pop of colour to any space and creates that extra layer when styling which is so important.  I use trailing plants on my shelves, they can even be propped on picture ledges.  I also use faux plants for this purpose - as someone who is always forgetting to water, these are perfect for creating a display that you don't need to worry about killing off in error. 

If your plants are on a suicide mission like mine, try these faux string of pearls from Next or this hanging from Maisons Du Monde.  If you don't want to veer away from the Real McCoy, try a spider plant or a philodendron which are both easy care.


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The Rule Of Three

Things always look better when styled in odd numbers.  It fixes your gaze on the grouping and therefore encourages you to look around the room. Three is generally considered to be the perfect number.  According to Apartment Therapy, it comes down to the fact that three is just how our brains work.  Three is the smallest possible number that can be used to form a distinguishable pattern in our heads.

So when you see an odd number, your eye is forced to move around more which makes for a more interesting visual experience.  Interesting, hey?  This applies to art, accessories, books, even furnishings and pattern.  There's a fab article about this that you can read here.

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Add The Art

Using art is a great way to brighten up your shelves.  Not just for the wall, framed art prints can brighton up your shelves.  Prop them either alone or in layers, using smaller and bigger ones for the best effect. 

Using different frames which can be picked up cheaply in charity shops is a good way of achieving an eclectic look at barely any cost.  I have a charity shop gold framed oil painting bought for £3 on my wooden kitchen shelves.  Combined with vintage glasses and more contemporary serving dishes, the mixed textures really give it the edge.

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Use Variance

Varying height on your shelves is another winner.  As with the rule of three, taking your eye to different levels creates a variety of focal points and encourages you to look further into the room.  A group of pottery or glass is transformed by arranging in varied height. 

Another effective way of grouping is to keep it tonal - find items of a similar colour tone in your home and group them together on your shelves. This creates a collection rather than a random display.  Again, mix the heights for maximum effect and play with the different textures to add interest.

So there's my top five tips for making your shelves pop.  It's a great way to give your room a refresh without going the whole hog and for an interior addict like myself, it's the perfect way of creating a new look without expense.  And let's face it, it's fun, which is what interiors should be.  And if my husband offers to put your shelves up for you, just say no, kids.  Happy shelfie styling!