The What, Where, and Why of Styling Wall Shelves

Add architectural interest to your décor and make creative displays with wall shelves.

By Erica Young

 

When it comes to wall décor, think three-dimensional. If every wall in your house only features flat artwork and photos, things can get a little boring and, well, flat. To add variety and depth to a space, use a wall shelf. Wall shelves can be chic as well as functional. They can breathe new life into an awkward nook, and are a great way to display your favorite accessories. Not sure where to start in the world of wall shelves? I've got the answers to your wall shelf questions.

 

1. Where Should I Hang a Shelf?

It’s a little more complicated than simply picking a wall and throwing a shelf on it. A single shelf hanging by itself on a vast wall is going to look a little lonely. Instead, find a space where the shelf, or set of shelves, will be related to a piece of furniture or fixture, like above a desk in the office, or above the toilet in the bathroom. Use your instincts to determine if a shelf would make sense on the particular wall you’re considering. A narrow wall that would otherwise not get a lot of use is another great spot for a shelf.

 

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Photos by Erica Young

 

2. How High Should I Hang My Shelf or Shelves?

Like artwork, shelves should be hung at about eye level or about 4 to 5 feet from the floor. If you’re hanging the shelf above furniture, measure about 10 inches from the top of the desk or couch. Of course these rules aren’t  set in stone, and other circumstances might factor into your height decision. For example, in a child’s room, you might want to hang your shelves a little lower to fit the kid-friendly proportions of the space.

 

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3. What Kind of Shelf Should I Buy?

Home stores have really upped their game recently when it comes to shelves. Floating shelves have a clean look and keep the focus on the decorative items placed on the shelf, but shelves with brackets are having a moment right now in the décor world – especially brass brackets. Just be sure to measure the space you plan on hanging the shelf in order to get the appropriate length.

 

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4. What Should I Put on My Shelf?

The most important rule when decorating a shelf: Have fun! Try leaning a framed piece of art against the wall, and then adding some accessories. Be sure to vary the heights of your objects. Play around with the arrangement until it looks right. The great thing about shelves is nothing you put on them is permanent. Change things up whenever you feel like it. A stack of books can help add height if needed. And consider function as well, like decorative canisters that hold office supplies in a home office.

 

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Don’t be afraid to enter the world of wall shelves. You’ll add architectural interest to your room and you’ll love deciding what to display on them. When you’re ready for a change, restyle your shelves to your heart’s content.

 

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