How to Style an Eclectic Shelf

Sometimes you just need to change things up.

I have this shelf in my living room that I love. Over the past several years, it has collected little treasures found on my travels and life adventures. I love it, but this spring, I needed a change. So, with the help of some friends, I gave my shelf a facelift, and thought I’d share some tips I learned along the way if you’d like to do the same.

My shelf came to be over 11 years of collecting things. It’s bright, crazy, and filled with amazingness… just like me. 😉 But it got to the point where it needed new life. It was starting to feel a little tired to me, and I don’t know if it was the season, but I wanted a kind of renewal for my little shelf of me. Hmm. Maybe what I really wanted was a little bit of a renewal of me. But that’s for another post…

Shelves are notorious for being collection spots for any little thing of meaning. Over time, they can fill up. If your house is feeling cluttered to you, it’s a great time to tackle the shelf. It’s a small project that can make a big impact on your home.

Let’s get to it! Here are ten Lemon Tips for styling an awesome and eclectic shelf with personality:

1. Empty those shelves

Don’t try to just rearrange things. Start with a clean slate by taking everything off the shelves so you’re started fresh. It will help you so much to just start from square one.

2.  Put it away for another day (that rhymes)

When a shelf is feeling tired, it’s often really feeling cluttered. Going through all those treasures you’ve collected alone can be really hard. Each item has memories attached to it for you personally, so putting the items away in a box can be weird. It’s like packing away a bit of your history. It can actually be really fun though. The next time you’re ready for another shelf revamp, you’ll have a box of treasures to go through. They’ll bring back all those amazing memories and will maybe get a place of honour on the shelf this time around.

3. I’m keeping it, so there!

While you might want to pare things down a bit, don’t get rid of everything! Pick out a handful of those special items to keep out and display with pride.

You might choose things because of their sentimental value, or because they match the colour scheme you’re going for, or because they add a pop of colour, or an amazing gold accent, or are a conversation starter. There are lots of things that can drive what you choose to keep on display, but whatever you do, choose carefully.

A few of my non-negotiable treasures included my Karl Lagerfeld figure and my Coco Chanel stacking dolls. I mean seriously, how could you NOT love those!

4. Fun with Friends

Do you ever start doing projects like this and get caught up playing with all of your treasures? You start turning them over and over in your hands, chatting with your partner about the items individual history and pretty soon you’re so far down memory lane you’ve gotten nowhere with your project.

Projects like this can be really hard on your own. Bring a couple of friends along who don’t have that emotional attachment to the items on your shelf. They’ll tell you when you’re getting carried away, help you focus and pick the right things to keep out or put away, and they’ll help generally just get the project done so everyone can get on with life “after the shelf.” If you pop open a bottle of wine, it can also be a lot of fun… just plan on it taking a little longer. 🙂

Huge thank you for the time, expertise and good times with the ladies from Theory Hardware! Thanks Angela and Bailey!

5. Adjust or bust

Before you put anything back on your shelves, take a look at them. I highly recommend ensure it that you have some that have adjustable shelves. This lets you customize the height to whatever you might want to showcase on there.

Mine are from IKEA and I love them. They’re simple, classic and affordable. Oh yeah, and adjustable.

6. Is it real? Is it fake? Who knows!?!

Ok, maybe you’re great with plants, but I’m… I’m great with plants too, never-you-mind. Have you SEEN this incredible string of pearls which is a notoriously difficult plant to grow on my shelf? Whatever your capabilities with plants, they greenery and florals really add colour and soften a shelf.

7. Mix it up

If you’re going for an eclectic style, which this blog post is all about, you’re going to want to mix things up. Mix old stuff with new stuff. Maybe your old stuff is new stuff to you, but no one needs to know that. Find some incredible contemporary pieces, and throw in some classic or antique pieces. Your shelf with be instantly interesting, and well, eclectic, just like you… and me.

I found a great radio at an antique store. I adds terrific character to my shelf, and is just plain cool.

8. Make a statement

Don’t be sheepish! To have a really great styled shelf, you’re going to want to find some key statement pieces to add areas of focus for your shelf. Maybe you’ll find those pieces in your existing treasures, or maybe they’ll be new ones you’ll pick up to round out your shelf project.

Mirrors: Mirrors or mirrored items are great statement pieces for a shelf. They help bring in light and reflect some of those items you treasure most.

Pops of colour: Pick a few items to bring in some colour with impact. It might be a small item with a really strong colour, or a larger item with a more subtle colour, but either way, they’ll become a bit of a focus area.

Whimsy: Grab a few things that are simply the unexpected. They are probably things that you really love anyway. They’ll reflect your personality and are a great conversation starter. I mean, who doesn’t love an alpaca?

9. Bring more than you need and play

Both with the stuff I already had and the new stuff we bought, we had waaaay more than would fit on my shelves. This let us really play with the items, trying things, changing things, mixing items and colours and displays, until we got it just how we wanted it. Some of the new stuff got returned or added to other areas of the house, and the stuff I already had that I wasn’t going to display, got boxed up for another time.

Books are a great to have lots of on hand. Instead of filling one shelf with your books, break them up into groups. Stand some up, lay some down, use some as a platform for other items.

10. Less is more, or more is more, who cares it’s your shelf

At the end of the day, there are no rules! It’s your home, your style and your treasures. Play around with your shelves and your items to create vignettes until they speak to you. Or jam those shelves full. Ultimately, it is about what makes you happy!

Styling a shelf can be a super fun project. I’d love to see some of your shelves, and hear about those special treasures you have on display!

Want to see the styling of the Lemon Shelf in action? Check out this short video on my YouTube channel!

In summary…

Lemon’s Top Ten Tips for Styling an Eclectic Shelf

1. Empty those shelves

2. Put a bunch of stuff away for use another time

3. Keep out a handful of treasures that are sentimental or meaningful to you

4. Bring some friends along for help, focus and fun

5. Make sure your shelves are adjustable to allow customization

6. Soften the shelves with greenery and florals, whether real or fake

7. Mix it up with old and new

8. Make a statement with mirrors, colour and whimsy

9. Bring more than you need and play

10. There are no rules

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