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Mar 14 / Erin

Black, white, green, silver…and nature

There are some savvy shelf editors among my readers.  Seriously savvy.  I was very grateful for all of the thoughtful and honest advice you gave me on last week’s edition of my floating shelves.  I read each and every comment and while I may not have followed any particular piece of advice to a tee, your collective advice really got me thinking.  To say that my new shelves are entirely different would be an understatement.  But, are they better?  That is up to you to tell me…

Before we move forward, we have to look backward to see how I worked through the process.  Let’s start with your advice.

Several of you mentioned that if I didn’t want cluttered looking shelves then I needed to, well, de-clutter.  Some of you mentioned needing to keep things in the same color group.  And this smart article provided by Candice told me that I should repeat like items on shelves.

And then there was the piece of advice that stuck with me the most.  Laura, my stylish friend from Journey Chic, reminded me that I should work with the angled wall I’ve been given and make each shelf follow that angle.  Oh, pure genius.

Let’s just say that be the before picture below shows how many shelf styling rules I was breaking.

In the end, I decided that these shelves were just going to have to be more decorative than functional, and I’m okay with that.  As I thought about it, I realized that this is transition space between our kitchen, living room and second floor, and it will become even more so when we create our new living and dining room situation.  So, it doesn’t need to be a stand-out wall.  It needs to blend in a little bit.  It needs to look nice, but not say, “look at me.”

So, after a few days of procrastinating and fretting that I would never be able to style a shelf up to your expectations, never mind my own expectations, I got busy.   I decided to take what was working and go with it.

Of my original three shelves, everyone agreed that one was actually working…the top one:

I looked at my top shelf and took its cues, which were:  black, white, green and silver.  Then I hunted around my house for anything I could find that fit the bill.

And after a couple of hours and a couple of different arrangements, here is what I ended up with on the top shelf (those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I spent one of Ike’s nap sessions doing this instead of cleaning and prepping for my first day back in the office):

I added one thing to the mix because Nate Berkus said so.  No, seriously, he told me so.  As it happens, Nate read my mind on his Friday morning show by explaining how to re-decorate your shelves in just 30 minutes.  He basically told me to do everything that you said, and then he explained, “you should try to have something from nature on your shelves.”

Okay, so perhaps a faux green flower stem isn’t exactly what he meant by nature, but it’s what I had to work with.

And, you’ll also see that I changed out the picture.  I needed the other set of framed photos for one of my other shelves, and so I popped one of our newborn photos in an extra large frame.  I felt like bigger was better in this case, but I’m kind of partial to that baby boy.

Now, in order to make the other two shelves fit my new theme (black, white, green, silver and nature), I needed to say au revoir to a few of my prized items (not forever, just for these shelves).  It was buh-bye to the wooden case, blue fish pitcher and the beautiful, bright painting by my sister, plus a number of the smaller items. It wasn’t easy to do.

Now, let’s look at the middle shelf.   We have white, green, silver, black and nature.  Check.  And we angle upward.  Whew.

And now the bottom shelf.  I am not usually a faux fruit kind of girl, but the apples are working for me.  Plus, I think the items in here can rotate out by season.  I can see green ornaments for Christmas.  Even a few small green votives could do the trick.

Now, if you ask me, each shelf on its own is really just “okay,” but you will never see them one-by-one anywhere other than on this blog.  I mean, you can’t help but see the three shelves as one design when you walk by.  And, I think the three shelves really do complement each other:

Here’s a closeup of how I’m making my theme work on the bottom shelf.  You can spy all five theme items, right?

And back to the wooden vase fillers.  Truth be told, I had those there before Nate’s nature advice.  I just decided that the empty pitcher wasn’t quite right; it needed something in it to visually fill the space.  And since I actually use this pitcher relatively often, these little wooden balls will pop in and out easily when I’m ready to fill it with a cool beverage.  Then, when Nate told me to use nature, I felt even more confident in my choice.

I decided to use books on my shelves and luckily I found several in my color theme.  My little trick is to turn the book around when the spine is less than attractive.  That gray book on the left is Superfreakonomics and it has bright blue foil for the bold, all-caps title, which is not part of the theme.  Can you tell we are a household of business and communications majors by the selection we have?

One tricky thing with these shelves is that you see them from the top when you are coming down the stairs.  So, they need to look good from the front, side and top.  You can really see my theme at work from this angle.

Okay.  So now I am nervous because I need you to all weigh in again and tell me how I did.  I’m feeling pretty confident and I am liking the set up more and more now that I’m living with it, but I’d love to hear what you think.  I’ve been painting the faux paneling so I’ll be ready for the final before and after soon…and I want the shelves to be right!

Fingers crossed…

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Leave a comment
  1. Christopher White / Mar 14 2011

    All I can say is A+++ and two gold stars

  2. Mindy @ Heart Maine Home / Mar 14 2011

    LOVE!! It looks fantastic!

  3. Laura@JourneyChic / Mar 14 2011

    Yay!!! It looks fantastic! The bright green accents work perfectly. Now, I must go set my DVR for Nate because I miss him now that I’m back at work.

    Good luck on your first day back!!

  4. Leah / Mar 14 2011

    looks good!!!!!! definitely a nice color theme. also the objects look great all together.

    it kind of needs something BOLD though, IMO. it’s pretty tame. it needs that “something that you found in the most unexpected place that would go perfectly on your shelves”, ya know?

  5. Amanda M. / Mar 14 2011

    Looks great! Much better =)

  6. Megan / Mar 14 2011

    Great job, Erin! I love the pops of green. : )

  7. Heather / Mar 14 2011

    I love how your shelves look!!! Wonderful job!

  8. Oona / Mar 14 2011

    Oh yes, much better! Love it! Love the green and the nature sprinkled in.

  9. Kim / Mar 14 2011

    These look GREAT! Love the mixture of black and green – it looks really fresh and the color combo is timeless. The angles work so well!

  10. Jen @ homeinthecountry / Mar 14 2011

    It looks beautiful!

    Hope your first day back at work went well!

  11. Jenni / Mar 14 2011

    oh yes, yes, much better! the first try just appeared a little disjointed, but now it’s cohesive and really flows nicely together. looks great!!

  12. Heather / Mar 14 2011

    They look awesome, awesome, awesome! Nice job. And how much do we love Nate? I have to DVR him.

    Good luck with the first day back! You will be great.

  13. Rachel / Mar 14 2011

    I LOVE the shelves – they look perfect. I do have one thought for you for the future. We have a 1-year old who is a crawling maniac and who loves to take everything off shelves. So when your little guy gets to that stage you might think about how you’ll make the bottom shelf work for everyone! :)

    • Erin / Mar 14 2011

      Thanks, Rachel! The bottom shelf is about 4 feet off the ground, so I found comfort in knowing I have some time before he can reach that high. I did choose an easily washable finish for the paint on the faux paneling below, with dirty little fingers in mind!

      – e

  14. Lynda / Mar 14 2011

    Nicely done! Love how refreshing B&W looks with a hint of green for Spring =)


  15. Courtney / Mar 14 2011

    Perfect! Love them all.

  16. Jayne Mercer / Mar 14 2011

    Looks fantastic Erin.

  17. Shannon / Mar 14 2011

    Dude, you are GOOD! I can’t believe how much better it looks. I love the color choices and your editing is spot-on. Thumbs up!

  18. love it! the pop of green is great. can’t wait to see it fully completed.

  19. Jenny@Anything Pretty / Mar 14 2011

    Wow…what a change! I think you did a great job and they look cohesive and well put together. It is amazing that shelf styling takes so much effort to look good. I can never get mine quite right!

  20. tashamonster / Mar 14 2011

    they look well put together now! nice job!

  21. Jenny / Mar 15 2011

    Oh. WOW. They look so great!! Nice job putting all the different advice together and making it work. LOVE THEM.

  22. Allison / Mar 15 2011

    I think you did a beautiful job, Erin. They look perfect! Very nicely done.

  23. Yvonne / Mar 15 2011

    MUCH better! More soothing…even though you didn’t take any of my advice ;)

  24. Alli / Mar 15 2011

    Excellent job. Love the burst of green, and the mix of photos/nature/books/household items. The only thing I would hate is having to dust it weekly and lift everything up and put it all back just so :-) You seem like you have your stuff together though and I doubt you will have any issues with that!

  25. ashley morgan / Mar 15 2011

    Excellent! Like night and day. The shelves in my dining room are in dire need of a redo and I’ll be using some of your tips!

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