How to Decorate Floating Shelves (With Pictures)

How to Decorate Floating Shelves

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 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…

diy decorate floating shelves

DIYing Floating Shelves: The Process

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.

flaoting sheves before

Deciding What Aesthetics to Follow

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 a 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:

top shelf before

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):

ikea shelf

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.

floating shelves diy

Starting to come alive

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:

floating shelves almost done

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

vase

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.

shelves design

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?

books on floating shelves

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.

floating shelves done domesticadventure

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!

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