March 4, 2023

How to Decorate Shelves in a Living Room    

There is an art to decorating shelves that many people take for granted. When you install a shelf in your living room, you're not just installing a shelf. You're installing a piece you can style and fashion your favorite way. And the best part is, you don't need to buy anything new. You can style shelves with decorative objects you already have on hand.

So, sit back, grab a warm drink, and let's dive into some shelf decor ideas you can use today!

What to Put on Living Room Shelves


Decorating your shelves is a fantastic way to personalize your living room space, giving it an extra oomph.

Here are some ways to start and match them to your desired aesthetic.

  • Plants - Why not make your living room come to life by adding nature to your space? You should have at least one plant for every three shelves.
  • Candle holders - Pick from traditional candle holder pieces to more contemporary and themed ones, which make an excellent contribution to your shelf styling.
  • Books - If you're a fan of literature, you may want to put a few books on display and create a small bookshelf. Try building a color palette of books to add a nice balance.
  • Risers - Excellent for creating depth and layering, so don't forget to consider them.
  • Texture - Look at ways you can implement texture, such as through baskets, beads, or small boxes made of wood.
  • Vases - You may think vases should be filled when displaying them, but this isn't necessarily true. You can showcase vases even when empty since their size and structure gives off an aesthetic look that will relax your sight.
  • Pictures, art prints, or photos - You don't have to be an art expert to appreciate a good work of art. Visual elements such as photography or art pieces add an in-depth element.

Style Your Shelves

Customize materials and color schemes


The materials and color scheme you use in your living room with open shelves can make a huge difference in its overall image.

Consider combining light and dark wood, wood with painted finishes, or other materials such as wallpaper or fabric that perfectly contrast your living space.

Place Shelves Behind Your Sofa


You can build a beautiful open wall above your sofa, showcasing your style and voice to visitors exploring your living room.

One of the best ways to decorate your living room's sofa corner is by using floating shelves, which are a lot more useful for storing objects you use regularly.

Display Easy-to-Use Baskets


Keep open shelves clean and organized with storage baskets to store random items that would otherwise cram your living room space. The fewer objects you have scattered in your living room, the less time and effort you'll need to keep it clean!

Floating Shelves Decor Ideas 

Mounted to the wall with brackets you can't see, these are perfect for creating a relaxed and simplified look.

Below are some ideas you can use to amplify your living space.

1. Display Your Favorite Items

If you have a living room with neutral tones and clean, sharp lines, you can enhance this minimalist aesthetic by installing floating shelves filled with your favorite decor in straight, aligned rows.

You can showcase objects such as books in a colored pattern laid out flat, giving a symmetrical shape that complements the rest of your minimally decorated living room.

2. Create Gallery Shelves

If you're after a simple yet contemporary look for your living room, then gallery shelves can be an excellent idea.

You can use floating shelves to provide a clean look that includes different forms of artwork that you've collected over time.

3. Display Your Records

Now, for the music lovers out there, you may not be able to show off your entire record collection, but you can still display your best albums.

Add taller shelves for more extensive music collections, or swap out the artists you've been listening to lately. Swapping your records weekly is a great way to get all your displayed music to stay up-to-date with what you're listening to over time.

4. Design Living Room Entryway Shelves

The entryway tends to be the primary focus space in or around your living room, where you can display items such as keys, sunglasses, hats, and more.

Given the small size of such a space, it can be challenging to find room for storing your daily necessities. This is where floating shelves come in.

Both functional and decorative, you can use them to display essential items that you use daily, allowing your visitors to get an understanding of your style when they walk through the door.

5. Design a Bookcase Shelf

If you are a fan of literature and have several favorite books that you don't know where to store, you can apply floating shelves on additional wall space in your living room to make the most creative use of your space.

Install shelves at a lower level to make reaching books easy, but place them high enough above the sofa to prevent hitting yourself when standing up.


Now that you've had an idea of what you can use, let's look at how you can bring these ideas to life in just 3 steps!

Vary Your Decor Heights

You want to start with your top shelf and gradually work your way lower. On the top shelf, apply your decorations from one end to the other, taking up most of the shelf's space.

Leave some space on each end of the shelf to create a more refreshing and minimal look.

On the top shelf, you can apply decorations that overlap from end to end and have different heights. Larger objects can be anything from plants to large paintings and ornaments.

Make sure to add items that are large enough so that your shelves don't look cluttered.

Your ultimate goal is to make your shelves look curated and thoughtful, so try not to let all the beautiful things that you own pile up on top of them.

Spread Decor Evenly

Try distributing decorations evenly on your shelves. Following your top shelf, you can address the one below it.

You can layer several objects you want to display in various appealing ways, but remember to leave some white space between the two sides. For a more minimalistic look, you can only have one type of object on each side of your shelf.

Your main goal is to have a stylish and considerate look and not make your shelves look like you've just thrown random items over them.

Ready to take your living room shelves to the next level?

Living room shelving is a great way to add extra storage, bringing in that wow factor that makes your visitors regard your living room with awe.

Whatever your personal design style, I'm sure this list has provided you with at least one helpful idea you can consider when decorating, increasing the space's allure and making you feel right at home.

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Written by


An interior design professional with a Master's degree in Architecture and 14 years of practical experience.
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