Shelf Styling Ideas that Work Every Time and Cost Almost Nothing

Shelf Styling Ideas that Work Every Time and Cost Almost Nothing

January 29, 2018

A great bargain isn’t necessarily something that’s cheap. To make a purchase worthwhile it needs to be well used and exceed its monetary worth over a long period of time.

We’ve come up with a list of shelf styling ideas that are reusable and versatile, meaning they perform well in any room of your home, maintain practicality, style and character no matter where or how you use them. Oh, and for an added bonus, you can pick up just about any of these items for a bargain price.

For even cheaper options, think of things you already own that might be underused or hidden in storage boxes. Pick up items at markets and garage sales or go to stores like Ikea that have great value products that are eye-catching and versatile.

Now, pick any shelf, bench, tabletop or nook and get styling.

Movable Items

These items that can be placed anywhere and add impact or charm. From bedroom to bathroom, kitchen to office. These items are wonderfully adaptable.

  • Self-standing clock
  • Small potted plants
  • Candles
  • Books (can also be used as platform tiers to give height to objects when laid and stacked horizontally)
  • Empty jars and bottles (Fill them, stuff them, use them as vases or leave them empty)

Rules to keep in mind when decorating your home:

Variety is the spice of life, it’s also the spice of your interior décor. For the perfect shelf collection, gather a range of objects and be sure they vary in height, size, weight, texture and character.

Some ideas for variety are listed below, you are limited only by your imagination. Mix and match from the following list, you don’t need to include every category, just what inspires and motivates you and what works for your family’s personality.

Something from nature: Small potted plants (orchid, bonsai, ferns, vines, succulents or flowering pots), terrariums, fish bowls, feathers, shells, crystals, ant farm, fossils, pinecones.

Something personal: Trinkets and figurines, especially those that have significance to you, like a gift or a travel souvenir. Jewellery, especially beads. If you have jewellery you love but never wear, frame it.

Something intellectual: Books (fiction, faction, fact, old, new), small puzzles that are handheld or that you have completed, maps, words in another language.

Something creative: Art materials in jars or canisters (brushes, pencils, paints, charcoal, calligraphy pens), makeup or makeup sets, sewing materials (buttons, bows, threads, knitting needles), modelling hands or figures.

Something framed: Photographs, cards, quotes, gift wrapping, material or wallpaper.

Something that works:  Clock, lamp, hourglass, music box, mechanical toys.

Something heavy: Glass bottles, spheres, paperweights, perfume bottles, brass bell.

Something secret: Gift boxes, drawstring bags, chests, a diary with a lock, a large old-fashioned key.

Remember old-time favourites: Lollies in a jar, day and date blocks, a deck of cards (tarot if you are spiritual), a clock in a dome, a glass box, a framed portrait of an old relative, lacework or crochet, potpourri, candelabra, a book of matches.

Have a theme.

If all that variety is causing a brain fog, pick a theme.

A theme can help tie your items together, creating balance and harmony. When you have decided on your theme, group your themed items together. If you have a long shelf or bench gather your themed items in bunches or clusters and break them up with something unrelated in the middle from the variety list.

Ideas for themes:

Metallic:  A lamp, a clock, a plant pot, a picture frame, a bell, a tray containing old coins.

Think gold, silver, brass, copper, bronze, chrome, foil.

Glass: Jars, shot glasses, tumblers, candle boxes and holders, vases, frames.

Think, glass, crystal, mirror, sequins, beads.

Wood: Tree branches, drift wood, wooden toys, wooden objects (i.e. eggs)

Think pine, maple, oak, walnut, bamboo as well as woven items like baskets.

Ceramic: Brick-a-brac, fruits, cactus, bowls, mugs, plates, jugs.

Think painted, plane, textured, smooth, funny and serious.

Kids: Toys, clothes, movie stills, games, clouds, oceans, stars, quotes, their name.

Think fun, playful, magic, inspirational, joyful and happy.

Colours: Ceramic items are great for colour themes. Always cheap and cheerful you can find a variety of shapes and items in bold or subtle colours to enhance a colour theme. You can also look for ceramic sets, which will cover variety as they are usually deliberately different in height, texture or emotion.


A colour pallet is where you have different colours that all reflect the same mood. Pallets are important for creating atmosphere. Chose a pallet that suits the look and feel or your home.

Pallet examples:

Winter colours: Ice colours. These have less brown, the colours are crisp, cool and refreshing. Ice blue, ice pink, vibrant purple, lemon, greys, white, black and silver.

Autumn colours:  Brown and earthy these are muddled colours. Rich red, deep yellow, deep blue, rusty colours and oranges, all shades of brown, gold, copper and bronze.

Summer colours: Bold and rich. These bright colours usually come with a lot of light, high impact and heat. Bright red, blue, yellow and green.

Close to the primary bold colours, these pop and are quite loud in their effect.

Spring colours: Soft and sweet. Spring is all about soft and subtle. New greens and shades of green, baby blues, buttery yellows, crisp brown.

Pastel colours: Baby colours, great for nurseries and young kids. Baby pink, baby blue, soft green and yellow, cream, peach, tan and white.

For something different:

  • Neon colours
  • Shades of grey. Get creative with light and shadows.
  • Black and white. For a simple, minimalist, bold look. This goes well with glass items and potted plants.

Decorating your home doesn’t need to be expensive with these shelf styling ideas. With some careful thought you can purchase items that can be loved and used over and over again, creating genuine value and also ensuring your home always looks fresh, stimulating new thoughts, ideas and emotions by changing and moving displays around the house so there is always something ‘new’ and surprising in store for guests and your family.

Peta Stewart – Certified Practicing Conveyancer


Book now