Master the Art of Styling Shelves: Expert Tips from Interior Designer Jennifer Thompson

In the world of interior design, styling shelves is an art form that requires strategy and planning. Renowned interior designer Jennifer Thompson shares her expert tips on how to transform your shelves into stunning displays that reflect your personal style. From starting fresh to balancing height and considering color, Jennifer's advice will help you curate meaningful and beautiful shelf displays that will make your space shine.

Start Fresh

Learn the importance of starting with a clean slate when styling your shelves.

When it comes to styling shelves, it's crucial to begin with a clean slate. Interior designer Jennifer Thompson advises taking everything down and assessing what you have. Toss away any unneeded pieces to create a fresh and updated shelf that brings you joy.

Keep it Clean

Discover how to curate your shelves and create a clutter-free display.

According to Jennifer Thompson, a clutter-free shelf is essential for a stylish display. She recommends curating your shelves by selecting items that bring you happiness and have meaning to you. Consider displaying family heirlooms or carefully chosen collectibles to add a personal touch to your shelves.

While it's tempting to overload your shelves with mementos, Thompson advises keeping the design clean to allow your curated pieces to shine. This way, each item can be appreciated and admired individually.

Lay the Groundwork

Learn how to create a cohesive and visually appealing shelf display.

When styling your shelves, it's helpful to start with one piece that you love and build around it. Jennifer Thompson suggests using items of personal value, such as family heirlooms or collectibles, as the foundation of your display. These pieces add character to your home and can serve as conversation starters.

Once you have your foundation, you can layer in decorative objects to enhance the visual appeal of your shelves. Consider incorporating items like framed photos, glass objects, vases, bowls, and boxes to create a visually interesting and personalized display.

Consider Color

Discover how to have fun with color when arranging your shelf display.

While some designers prefer sticking to a specific color scheme, Jennifer Thompson suggests mixing it up and incorporating unexpected colors and textures. Adding pops of color can make your shelf display more vibrant and visually appealing.

When selecting accessories, consider the color story of your space and choose items that complement it. However, don't be afraid to experiment and mix different colors to create a unique and eye-catching display.

Think Bigger Picture

Learn how to create a cohesive and interconnected shelf display throughout your home.

According to Jennifer Thompson, styling a shelf is just one piece of the larger puzzle. Each shelf in your home should be curated with the bigger picture in mind, creating a cohesive and interconnected display. By balancing meaningful objects throughout your home, you can create a movement of pieces that tells a story about those who live there.

Organize in Odd Numbers

Discover the power of odd numbers when arranging objects on your shelves.

Jennifer Thompson loves odd numbers when it comes to arranging objects on shelves. While it's not a strict rule, odd number groupings, such as threes and ones, can create a visually pleasing and balanced display. However, if you prefer even symmetry, there's no rule against it. The key is to arrange objects in a way that feels visually appealing to you.

Balance Height

Learn how to create balance and visual interest by varying the height of objects on your shelves.

When working with different objects of varying heights, it's important to consider their placement on the shelf. Jennifer Thompson recommends placing the most meaningful objects, such as family photos, at eye level where they can be easily seen and appreciated.

To create balance and visual interest, vary the height of objects on your shelves. Place taller items lower on the shelf to ensure they are fully visible, while shorter items can be placed higher. This creates a visually pleasing composition and allows each object to be showcased effectively.

Map it Out

Discover the importance of planning and mapping out your shelf display before arranging items.

Prior to arranging items on your shelves, Jennifer Thompson recommends mapping out your display. Start by laying everything out on the floor or a table to take inventory of what you have and visualize how it will look on the shelves.

By planning ahead, you can easily make adjustments and changes to create the desired look. This approach allows you to see the bigger picture and ensure a cohesive and visually appealing shelf display.

Personalize Personal Spaces

Learn how to personalize shelves in individual spaces based on their purpose and function.

Shelves in different spaces of your home can be personalized based on their purpose and function. For example, in an office or study, consider displaying books, antique office supplies, and relevant items. In a kitchen, showcase recipe books, cooking tools, and decorative bowls.

When personalizing shelves, consider the specific needs and interests of the individual using that space. Shelves in personal spaces, such as bedrooms or offices, can be more highly personalized to reflect the hobbies and preferences of the individual.


Styling shelves is an art that requires careful consideration and planning. By following the expert tips shared by renowned interior designer Jennifer Thompson, you can transform your shelves into stunning displays that reflect your personal style and bring joy to your space.

Starting with a clean slate, curating your shelves with meaningful objects, and considering factors like color and balance can elevate your shelf styling game. Remember to think about the bigger picture and create a cohesive display throughout your home. With these tips, you'll be able to create beautiful and personalized shelf displays that make a statement.


How often should I change the items on my shelves?

There's no set rule for how often you should change the items on your shelves. It depends on your personal preference and the overall aesthetic you want to achieve. However, it's a good idea to refresh your shelves periodically to keep them looking fresh and interesting.

Can I mix different styles and colors when styling my shelves?

Absolutely! Mixing different styles and colors can create a visually interesting and eclectic shelf display. Just make sure to maintain a sense of balance and cohesion by incorporating complementary elements and considering the overall color scheme of your space.

How can I make my shelves look less cluttered?

To make your shelves look less cluttered, focus on curating a collection of meaningful and visually appealing objects. Remove any items that don't bring you joy or serve a purpose. Use organizational tools like baskets or boxes to corral smaller items and create a sense of order.

What are some creative ways to display books on shelves?

There are many creative ways to display books on shelves. You can arrange them by color for a visually striking effect, stack them horizontally and vertically to add visual interest, or use bookends and bookshelf accessories to create unique vignettes. Experiment with different arrangements to find a style that suits your taste.

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