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How to Style Shelves

Bookshelves, cupboards
an open armoire or hutch with dishes.

No matter where you display your treasures-
when they are displayed in a beautiful way
they add charm and beauty to a room.

Let's be honest. How many times have you sat and stared at a whole
bank of shelves that are just waiting to be styled
and felt a little bit lost.
Too much stuff = can sometimes look like too much stuff.
Too little = can be a little cold, blah and boring.

Sometimes a whole bank or cupboard of shelves can feel overwhelming
to know what is just right.

But honestly, they don't have to be.
It is simple.
Just decorate with what you love.
Books, china, family photographs, statues-  you name it.

Out in the cottage- my favorite built -in bookshelves flank the fireplace.
My sons and husband built these bookshelves when renovating the cottage
and created them to have a vintage look even though they are brand new.

 I have changed them from displaying white dishes for styling or magazine projects
to my favorite display- which is covering those shelves with vintage books.

And though I know some may not approve-
 I love vintage books turned around on the shelves 
There is something about seeing the worn page edges and touches of gilding
instead of a mish mash of colorful bindings that I just love sometimes.

In the small kitchen in the cottage-  it is more about useful display.
Jars of extra spices, chocolate chips and sugar and flour
are mixed in with a few everyday dishes.

There is very limited storage in this teeny tiny kitchen
and not a lot of area for tucking extras so some of the storage goes on the shelves.
But it can be pretty nonetheless.
Mixed with stacks of bowls and cups on the shelves, it keeps things within reach
and is charming at the same time.

One of my favorite display areas in our house is this gorgeous piece.
Though most of time I leave the top doors closed- because I love the look-
when the doors are open- the display truly warms up the room

Simple whites

To a few gold and pink floral accents

Maybe a collection of transferware or silver
and at Christmas time -
I love to accent with fresh greens

So how do you know what is the right way to style those shelves?
Do you stack books or do you line them up?
Should the dishes be all a similar size and shape on each shelf?
Do you put something tall then something short, then tall again?

Honestly, I think there are quite a few schools of thought on that
and will readily admit that I probably am not following the
'proper' way of styling any of my shelves.

But you know,  rebel over here- so show me a rule
 and I will take it as a challenge to break it.

For me, I simply place things as I like them
step back and make adjustments and repeat.
So I think the best advice on styling your shelves is to just play with them
until you get them the way you like.

Happy Sunday everyone

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  1. I love all of your ideas Courtney! Shelves styled with some nice thing make house feels like home and tells a story about what we like and who we are, don`t you think?
    Have a sweet Sunday!

  2. Just beautiful, Courtney. I love the casual feel with the books turned that way.

  3. I always love seeing how you so beautifully style your shelves in your everything from those collection of the books to the beautiful ironstone....Always done to perfection Courtney!

  4. If using less pieces on a shelf you want to then make a statement with big bold pieces, the whole less is more theory, yet one big larger then scale piece on a shelf then works then placing a smaller piece on an empty larger shelf. Your shelving pieces look great perfectly displaying your collections. I have always loved the feeling you get when seeing the unit in your bathroom, something I did in my larger home, but this smaller cottage does not allow me to do so in the space. I plan to remove the cubbie cabinet and run shelving in it so I get this look of displaying pretty powderroom pieces.

    Thank you for sharing the beauty you create Courtney, you do it so well.


  5. I love the way you have displayed your books, Courtney! But I have to say that my favorite is your fabulous old armoire filled with ironstone! Hugs...Debbie

  6. I like books also,so i have a few but you did give me a few fresh ideas,thanks.

  7. Love how you placed the books...really nice...Mariaelena

  8. Courtney, your shelves look stunning any season of the year. You have a wonderful collection of white ironstone.

  9. Wow - so many great ideas and they all look so beautiful! I'm so happy to have found your blog and look forward to reading more of your posts - Cheers:)

  10. Hi Courtney!!

    Your ideas are great!! Love whenever there is a pitcher on any shelving unit!! It just brings a softness to it.

    Have a great week!!


  11. What matters about styling shelves is how they appeal to you and express one's individuality. Yours look perfect in their setting.