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.
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.
Love Han Simon
Natural Walnut Photo Frame
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.
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.
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.
Olive et Oriel
Abstract Figure II Art Print
Appalachian Collection Large Cylinder Vase
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.
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!
Oliver Gal – Inspired by Monet Impressionist Waterlilies Modern Blue
Mango Hummingbird Guatemalan Handmade Bird
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.
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!
Floral delights year-round
String lights, tea light holders, and figurines fit the bill of shelf decor that can be kept out year-round.
Origami Flowers LED String Lights
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.
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.
Calming bathroom shelf accents
Stone, marble, and wood, are conducive to a spa-like bathroom environment, as well as potted foliage.
Modern Mini Tiered Bamboo
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.
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.
SKOG Scent Diffuser
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Charming country cottage shelf decor
White milk jugs, ceramic pitchers, and decorative cutting boards look right at home on a cottage kitchen shelf.
Hillcrest Jug, White
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.
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!
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 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.
Joss & Main
Kailyn Wood Decorative Bowl
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.
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.
Unique and Yours Gifts
Custom Wood Signs
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.
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 Box – Handcrafted Wooden Accessories Organizer
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Any Time Cement Desk Clock
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.
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
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.
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.
Blue Fluted Plain Teapot
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.
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.
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.
The Appollo Box
Artistical Architectural Bookends – Sandstone
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.
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.
- Picture frames
- Framed artwork or quotes
- Books and bookends
- Candles and candle holders
- Bowls and baskets (catchalls)
- Vintage camera or other decorative device
- Dishes and mini appliances (for the kitchen)
- String lights or small lamps
- Towels, soaps, and diffusers (for the bathroom)