When most people think of shelves, perhaps kitchen and bathrooms come to mind, a ledge to merely temporarily place something in the course of a daily routine. Instead, consider using shelves and shelving as a decorative area to help add interest and pizzazz. From metal to colors and even shelving of various lengths, here are some tips for how to incorporate shelves into your existing decor.

1. Consider untraditional elements such as metal shelves, especially if you are seeking a modern and minimal look and feel.

2. Mix and match. Mixing shelves of different lengths and even colors can add interest.

3. Add elements such as framed photography, greenery and accents. Shelves don’t just have to be for books.

4. Consider built-in shelves. While an excessive amount of built-ins can be a turnoff, thoughtful and creative placement can be both purposeful and impactful.

5. Consider black or white shelving, depending on your wall color. The contrast can act as an interesting design element.

6. Incorporate shelves in entertainment areas such as dining and living rooms where shelves can display treasured mementos, family photos or memorabilia.

7. Consider using shelves on long walls as an alternative to traditional artwork.

8. Mix shelves with artwork. Often artwork can help to create a sense of balance.

9. Consider placing shelves in a room that may need extra surfaces such as a child’s room or crafting space.

10. Place shelves in a useful area such as near an entry or mudroom.


Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at .


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