20 Shelf Decor Ideas for Every Room in the Home

Saffron Marigold - Updated: June 13, 2023

Curating your shelf decor is the next best thing to curating a gallery wall. It’s a bite-sized version, and it is even better if you don’t want to or (cannot) create holes in the wall with nails and hanging books for a gallery wall. Here, we’ll walk you through 21 shelf decor ideas and specific ways on how to decorate a wall shelf.

Why use shelf decor?

Traditionally, shelves are reserved for practical items that need storage: books, binders, folders. However, shelves have displayed, time and again, that they’re the perfect space to show off your decorating skills.

From rainbow color-coded bookshelves to A-frame shelves full of houseplants and trinkets, there’s no end to the ways you can decorate your shelf no matter your style.

Decorating your shelf is also a fantastic idea if you prefer to simply arrange items on a platform instead of hammering nails and hooks or sticking wallpaper onto bare vertical spaces.

Living room shelf decor

Most important is your living room shelf decor where your designs will be on display for every guest to see. But no pressure here—perfecting your dream shelf decor arrangement should be fun exercise!

1. Rustic wall shelf decor

Rattan, botanicals, and earth and white tones lend themselves to a rustic atmosphere. Handcrafted, imperfectly perfect items also add a touch of effortless grace and personality to a rustic home.

Example of shelf decor ideas for a rustic wall shelf

Rustic shelf decor ideas

A wooden picture frame of a cherished memory, a handmade, unglazed vase—objects of affection that give your rustic wall a unique charm.

Photograph of a photo frame
Love Han Simon

Natural Walnut Photo Frame

Photograph of a white vase for rustic shelf decor
Finnish Design Shop

Magnolia Vase, White

Rustic sofa throw pillow covers

Our Japan-influenced collection, Pacific Blue, imbues your space with that coastal cottage style that is most definitely rustic—not too beachy nor too “shabby chic.” Its calming indigo and ivory will palette complement your rustic wall decor fantastically.

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2. Modern wall shelf decor

Modern decor calls for less clutter, more impactful accents. Create visual interest by pairing items of different heights, sizes, and color as seen here. Also choose items from different categories, e.g. books, figurines, prints, vases.

Photograph of a modern wall shelf with modern wall shelf decor

Modern wall shelf decor ideas

Build on beiges, browns, and blush tones for a modern wall shelf arrangement. Then, add pops of color in the form of books or dried flowers.

Photograph of a modern framed art print
Olive et Oriel

Abstract Figure II Art Print

Photograph of a ceramic cylinder vase with grooved texture
Alewine Pottery

Appalachian Collection Large Cylinder Vase

Modern textiles

Royal Mansour, inspired by Moroccan architecture, can read very modern. Adorn an armchair with one of our Royal Mansour throw cushion covers and drape a white, hand-loomed bedspread over your shoulders to keep you warm when working out of your chair. This wonderfully soft linen speaks to your modern wall decor.

3. Colorful wall shelf decor

Taking a maximalist approach to your shelf decor color scheme? We’re glad to hear it! Remember to try to stick to a cohesive palette. In this example, jewel tones (red and green, mostly) dominate the shelf decor.

Photograph of a colorful wall shelf with jewel tone colorful shelf decor
Photo: Lonny

Colorful wall shelf decor ideas

Prop up a gorgeous canvas painting or a handmade tropical bird on your shelf to add even more color and style. Your shelf will feel like a mini art gallery by the end of it!

Photograph of a Monet-inspired art print with florals

Oliver Gal – Inspired by Monet Impressionist Waterlilies Modern Blue

Photograph of a handmade green and red hummingbird figure
Greater Good

Mango Hummingbird Guatemalan Handmade Bird

Colorful curtains

Extend your love of color with a vibrant curtain for your living room windows. If sticking with reds and oranges, try our Shimmering Goldstone or Spice Route curtain panel to connect your shelf decor and your window treatments.

4. Circle shelf decor

Space and dimension will be your limiting factors when decorating a wall shelf. More peculiar and whimsical than your standard tiered, rectangular wall shelf, a circle shelf adds a bit of fun to a bare living room wall.

Photograph of a circle wall shelf on a green grey wall filled with black dishware, candles, and a potted plant
Photo: Birch Lane

Circle wall shelf decor ideas

Since you’re likely pressed for space with a circle shelf, feature impactful items like a set of hand-painted candles or hand-woven mini planters housing your prized succulents.

5. Hanging wall shelf decor

In this example, we can see how a living room wall shelf may be used for seasonal decor. Christmas, Halloween, spring—it’ll be so fun changing up the display every few months!

Photograph of a seasonal wall shelf display atop a wooden dresser
Photo: Pottery Barn

Floral delights year-round

String lights, tea light holders, and figurines fit the bill of shelf decor that can be kept out year-round.

Floral origami string lights in various colors
World Market

Origami Flowers LED String Lights

A hand-carved wooden tea light holder with a lotus flower design
Saffron Marigold

Lotus Bloom Hand-Carved Tea Light Holder

Things to attach to a magnetic hanging shelf…

If you’ve installed a metal shelf, you can use mini magnets to hang up postcards from your travels, paper invitations from families, and beautiful artwork. Try these traditional Indian notecards for a refreshing hint of color on your living room wall.

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Bathroom shelf decor

Your bathroom shelf decor should be a balanced mix of items you need and beloved items you want to show off. Layer functional items like extra hand towels, luxury soaps, and catchalls for toiletries with decorative items like figurines and plants.

6. Zen-inspired shelf decor ideas

A classic theme, a spa-like bathroom is an opportunity to dress your bathroom in calming tones and natural materials.

Photograph of wooden ladder style bathroom shelf with zen-inspired shelf decor in a white bathroom
Photo: Viva Terra

Calming bathroom shelf accents

Stone, marble, and wood, are conducive to a spa-like bathroom environment, as well as potted foliage.

Lucky bamboo plant in a glossy, black, square planter
Eastern Leaf

Modern Mini Tiered Bamboo

A stone toothbrush holder holding two bamboo tothbrushes

Basalt Toothbrush Holder

Japanese inspired curtains for your zen bathroom

Endless ivory waves on a sea of deep indigo blue give your bathroom an authentic zen-like feel with these Japanese-inspired window treatments.

7. Over-the-toilet shelf decor

A small bathroom doesn’t mean you have to give up the idea of a shelf entirely. Fortunately, over-the-toilet shelves make it easy to create storage and display room. These freestanding shelves are also handy if you’re unsure how to find the wall studs in your bathroom when installing a wall shelf.

Photograph of a bathroom with an over-the-toilet shelf filled with clean and modern shelf decor
Photo: West Elm

Small luxuries for your mini shelf

Your favorite scented diffuser, a new set of min vases…this unique bathroom shelf is primed for little luxuries on your small wall space.

Photograph of a scent diffuser inside a deep green container

SKOG Scent Diffuser

Set of three white mini vases with pleated texture design
Pottery Barn

Kahler Hammershoi Miniature Vases – Set of 3

Mid-century modern curtains

Pair a Mid-century modern over-the-toilet fixture with Dahlia Daydreams, a floral fantasy in vibrant pink, elegant silver grey, and classic white. This pink-forward collection brings much-needed freshness to a bathroom!

8. Coastal bathroom shelf decor

Coastal style is often expressed in off-white and ocean tones, as well as distressed furniture and lightweight linens. The shelf unit below is a mix between farmhouse rustic and coastal, and the distressed white is a fitting stage for your coastal shelf decor.

A distressed white shelf for the bathroom with two tiers and a row of hooks at the bottom
Photo: Wayfair

Small wall filled with style

Just because your bathroom wall space is limited doesn’t mean you need to tone down your decor. Choose wondrous home accents such as these sage paisley pillar candles and this matching turquoise woven bowl to keep it coastal.

Coastal shelf accents

Coastal curtains for easy, breezy vibes. Check out our coastal-leaning collection Casablanca Blues for a unique take on this relaxed style. Don’t need a shower curtain? How about a Tulip Mist window valance? This white-on-white print is evocative of life along the coast; imagine the seaside winds making these lightweight curtains flutter and sway.

9. Mason wall shelf decor

Depending on the material, a mason wall shelf can feel industrial or boho. However, a small, wooden one such as the one pictured here incorporates boho vibes to your bathroom. Consider installing one above your bathroom sink or on an empty wall next to the shower/bath.

Wooden arched mason wall shelf filled with skincare products and extra towels
Photo: Urban Outfitters

Make the space count

For a petite mason wall shelf, display nicely packaged skincare products, extra face towels, and small-scale trinkets like tea light candle holders for a luxe, curated look on your small wall.

An empty, decorative marble bowl

Galaxy Marble Bowl

10. Glass shelf decor ideas

Narrow glass shelves may be your best choice for you, especially if your bathroom has poor ventilation overall and small walls. This material won’t absorb moisture, and you can easily wipe surfaces in case of dirt buildup.

Glass wall shelf decor example for the bathroom
Photo: How to Nest for Less

Keep essentials close…

Instead of filling your glass shelves with purely decorative items, keep bathroom essentials close such your luxury soaps and extra body scrubbers.

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Kitchen shelf decor

Looking for an easy DIY project? Remove the doors to your overhead kitchen cabinetry or, for an even bigger challenge, remove your existing cabinetry and install open kitchen shelving!

11. Country cottage wall shelf decor

Floating shelf decor and open shelving are the bread and butter of country cottage kitchens. Show off those Le Creuset pots, handmade porcelain wares, and mug collections! The more items you have on display, the more ‘country’ it’ll look.

Pro tip: Double check the weight limit on your shelves before filling them up with heavy and precious pots and pans.

Open fixed bracket shelving for the kitchen with three tiers, filled with ceramic dishware and some potted plants for shelf decor

Charming country cottage shelf decor

White milk jugs, ceramic pitchers, and decorative cutting boards look right at home on a cottage kitchen shelf.

White milk jug with a glossy finish
Soho Home

Hillcrest Jug, White

Decorative cutting board with wood engraving of the family name "Stevenson"

Personalization Mall

Personalized XL Cutting Board – Heart of Our Home

Charming country cottage linens for the kitchens

Pair inviting accents with lovely linens that speak to the chic cottage style. Lightweight floating shelf decor such as cloth dinner napkins are best if your shelving unit isn’t rated heavy-duty.

12. Botanical textiles for your green kitchen shelf

If you’d rather display your beloved plants on a shelf instead of kitchenware (maybe because there isn’t room anywhere else in the home!), then a tiered shelf like this is a fitting choice.

A large, tiered plant stand filled with plants of different sizes and shapes
Photo: Home Depot

Accents for your plant shelf

Besides your watering can, mister, and other plant care essentials, you can finally show off any beautiful planters that have been tucked away in a corner until now!

Geometric watering can in a cool eucalyptus color
Garden Glory

Watering Can Eucalyptus – 8L

13. Botanical shelf decor

Make the room feel extra refreshing with botanical linens that reflect your love of nature.

13. Functional kitchen shelf decor

If you’re sort of a minimalist anyway, and only have a few sets of dishware, keep them out and within reach on a kitchen shelf. Your floating shelf decor may include your favorite mugs and serving bowls.

Functional kitchen shelf decor on a fixed bracket shelf
Photo: West Elm

Functional pieces to display on your kitchen shelf

Keep a stack of cloth napkins on display, alongside decorative bowls you can fill with small fruits or extra cutlery, your most-used mugs, and recipe books.

A narrow wooden tray
Joss & Main

Kailyn Wood Decorative Bowl

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Bedroom shelf decor

The bedroom is where you can have more fun with your shelf decor. Your personal oasis, it should be true reflection of your design style.

14. Personalized wall shelf decor

We love unique and personalized home decor such custom frames, birth month flower bouquets, and handcrafted accents.

Homey, personalized shelf decor on two white floating shelves
Photo: Ultra Craftsmanship

Support independent artists with custom art and decor

The online world is a treasure trove of independent artists and shops with incredible accents such as these custom wood signs and birth month wildflower bouquets. Use these to complete your bedroom shelf decor.

Example of custom frameed sign
Unique and Yours Gifts

Custom Wood Signs

Three wildflower synthetic bouquets in wooden stands
Uncommon Goods

Birth Month Wildflower Bouquet

More unique bedroom shelf accents

Stay true to your extraordinary style with handmade goods like these hand-painted taper candles and a hand-carved candle light holder.

15. Vintage wall shelf decor for the bedroom

Have a thing for vintage style? We do, too! A mason-type shelf like this one with intricate carvings adds a touch of old-world style to your bedroom wall.

Simple shelf decor in an intricately carved mason type wall shelf
Photo: Anthropologie

Vintage-influenced shelf decor for the bedroom

Never lose jewelry again with a beautiful, handmade jewelry box on your shelf. Frame a couple of photographs in vintage style frames such as these gilded ones adorned in fleur-de-lis motifs and other stunning flourishes.

Mother of pearl jewelry box
Handmade Moonriver

Mother of Pearl Box – Handcrafted Wooden Accessories Organizer

Two gilded vintage style picture frames
All Things Home Store

4pc Small Vintage Style Picture Frames (Gold)

Vintage-inspired bedding to match

Don’t forget to dress up your bed with vintage-style linens, too! Rich oranges and golds add warmth, making your bedroom feel luxe, yet inviting.

16. Shelf decor over your headboard

Here is another type of shelf that’s perfect for a smaller room! It makes use of vertical space, and may feel less clunky than having a traditional nightstand on either side of your bed.

Above-the-headboard shelf and shelf decor for the bedroom
Photo: Country Door

Vibrant color makes up for lack of space

While many decorating guides warn against using bright color in smaller spaces, there’s no steadfast rule in design! Go ahead and fill up your wall shelf with beautiful, colorful accents like these hand-woven baskets and decorative books.

Stack of four colorful decorative books
All Modern

ColorStak Modern Sunset Ombre Decorative Books

Vibrant bedding to match

Remember: small bedroom doesn’t have any boundaries on style! Decorate your bed with beautiful colors like our Tropical Garden collection—honey gold tan, reds, pinks, and emeralds to revitalize your bedroom.

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Office shelf decor

For many of us, working from home everyday (or at least part of the week) has been the norm for a few years. Treat yourself to fascinating decor that brings you inspiration and a sense of organization.

17. Minimalist office shelf decor

If you prefer to work in a barebones space with touches of intriguing decor, then a minimalist office will be the best fit for you.

Minimalist shelf decor for the office in a brightly lit space
Photo: Shelterness

Modern minimal shelf decor

An artsy clock, a stylish file folder, and a simple, metallic desk lamp may be all you need to feel ready to take on the day.

Minimalist desk clock made of pink concrete

Any Time Cement Desk Clock

Minimalist magazine file box in emerald green and a matte finish

Sage Magazine File Box

A dash of color for your minimalist workspace…

Bring in lots of light (light equals happy thoughts on those long workdays!) with sheer curtain panels, and decorate with thoughtful accents like these blue, artisan-made tapers.

18. Inspiring office shelf decor

Perhaps you’re an extrovert and prefer working on-site, so you might need a few pick-me-ups sprinkled throughout your home office decor! Little reminders like a lovely quote or a resin flower paperweight bring a smile to your face every day.

Shelf decor full of plants and an inspirational quote in a home office with a gold armchair
Photo: OneRoomChallenge

Florals and words of wisdom for your inspirational office

Have a favorite quote? Print it out on nice card stock, frame it, and place it within view from your work chair. Carefully choose aesthetically pleasing office decor and stationery such as this resin paperweight filled with gorgeous wildflowers. Any kind of wall art also keeps spirits up on extra tough days!

Maya Angelou quote in a picture frame bordered by a sage green block
Typography Tipi

Maya Angelou Quote

Pyramid resin paperweight with pink wildflowers and green foliage inside
Smile With Flower

Real Flowers Arrangement House Decor, Paperweight Resin Pyramid

Make your office feel cozy

Take a break under a snuggly, hand-embroidered cotton throw, and make your space feel even more cozy with a block printed pillow cushion on your armchair.

19. Corner wall shelf decor

If you want a standalone shelf unit instead of a wall shelf, then a corner type like this one can also save you space.

Mid-Century modern corner shelf unit

Exquisite accents and collectibles

Note the Mid-century modern style and traditional vibes of this shelf. Pair with exquisite pieces to give your home office decor a classic look and feel.

White and blue fluted teapot
Royal Copenhagen

Blue Fluted Plain Teapot

Pair of leopard bookends with three books in the middle

Lakadema Leopard Bookends

20. Monochromatic office shelf decor

Some of us get inspired by color and patterns, while some of us perform best under pure, pristine conditions. Monochromatic office shelf decor may be easier on your brain if you’re the type to find comfort in simple envirohttps://craftivitydesigns.com/heavy-duty-shelf-brackets/nments.

Shelf decor in a monochromatic office with wood furnishings and a light blue wall
Photo: Futurist Architect

Simple, not boring

Don’t confuse monochromatic with lifeless! Even with a monochromatic scheme, you can find ways to captivate the senses with texture and pattern.

Travertine candle holder pedestals in a natural, sandy tone

Roca Travertine Pillar Candle Holders Set of 3

More minimalist favorites

Stick to white and off-white accents like these sandstone bookends and this natural woven basket.

Pair of white sandstone Rome Coliseum bookends with a handful of books in betewen
The Appollo Box

Artistical Architectural Bookends – Sandstone

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How to decorate a shelf?

The most important thing in decorating a shelf is to create a sense of dimension and texture with objects of varying sizes, shapes, and materials.

  • Divide your shelf into small zones
  • Use objects of different heights, colors, shapes, sizes, and textures
  • Put your personality into it (photo frames, your own crafts, your favorite books, etc.)
  • Layer accents
  • Coordinate with surrounding furniture and all art, if any

What are the different types of wall shelves?

Lucky for you, there are many types of wall shelving to choose from:

  • Floating shelves
  • Corner shelves
  • Mason shelves
  • Tiered floating shelves
  • Bracket shelves
  • Built-in shelves
  • Hanging shelves

In addition to wall-attached shelves, there are your classic freestanding shelves: A-frame, traditional, over-the-toilet shelves, over-the-headboard shelves, open bookcases, cubby shelves, tiered industrial shelves, and more.

Photograph of a narrow, five-tier shelf display with simple shelf decor

What do you put on shelves for decoration?

Now that you have some idea of how to decorate a shelf to make it look effortlessly styled, it’s time to pick out your essentials.

  • Vases
  • Picture frames
  • Framed artwork or quotes
  • Books and bookends
  • Candles and candle holders
  • Bowls and baskets (catchalls)
  • Figurines
  • Globe
  • Clock
  • Vintage camera or other decorative device
  • Plants
  • Dishes and mini appliances (for the kitchen)
  • String lights or small lamps
  • Towels, soaps, and diffusers (for the bathroom)

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