The Chaplins Shelf-Help Guide: 7 Styling Secrets to Boost your Bookcase

The Chaplins Shelf-Help Guide: 7 Styling Secrets to Boost your Bookcase

From the floating to the freestanding, the room dividing to the flush-against-the-wall, despite their light framework and generally slimline designs, shelving systems and bookcases are hugely impactful pieces of furniture, well worth putting some time and thought into.

Modern homes have become less about pure good looks and more about the art of telling stories and creating personal narratives – now’s the time to gather the objects that mean the most to you and put them where you can feel their positivity every day. New shelves are a great opportunity to browse the house and compose a new collection combining the items you find within.

Cabinet De Curiosite - Bonaldo

There are no rules regarding what you put on display. Large, small, old, new, useful, decorative, colourful, muted, hand crafted, machined... bring it all together and start from there.

The first thing to do, whether you’re working with a box-fresh new piece of storage or refreshing something existing, is to start from scratch: empty it. There’s no other way. Once you have a blank slate, then the decisions begin.

What’s the shelf for? Practical storage, or a beautiful, decorative addition to the room? Is it about aesthetics, or expression? What type of atmosphere do you want to create?

Set the mood layer by layer, ledge by ledge with our professional styling methods and strategies to create a contemporary shelving display, and artfully showcase everything from treasured collections and works of art to plants, books and beyond.

Red Baron Bookcase - Knoll

Explorer Cabinet - BD Barcelona

Mix Materials and Textures

Melding different textures and materials on the shelf top, from paper to ceramics, wood, glass and metal, adds a pleasing element of contrast to a space – either place objects on the shelves that juxtapose each other to create interest, or have the whole shelving system differing from the room itself for larger impact and to make the shelf a standout design feature. Texture – the more tactile the better – also brings a warm and cosy feel, and placing high contrast surfaces side by side (say, a high gloss finish next to a rough ceramic) ups visual appeal and intrigue.

Flat C Wall Unit - B&B Italia

Introduce Illumination

Using shelving with built-in lighting, or including a free-standing light on a shelf has many more pros other than simply increasing visibility. Lighting adds depth and dimension, cultivating visual interest while emphasizing the three-dimensional nature of the structure. As well as creating ambiance – warm tones equal cosiness, cool coloured bulbs are energetic. Lights can also draw focus to certain pieces so they stand out, and make collections looks even more impressive – and when turned off, built-in lighting becomes invisible while lamps become beautiful sculptures.

Ghost Wall Unit - Cassina

Bellhop Table Lamp - Flos

USM Haller Storage - USM

Strike a Balance

When putting your shelving arrangement together, it’s important to bear balance and proportion in mind – carefully considering the layout and placement of items will make it easier for your collection to harmonise. For a modern, diverse feel, play with scale and emphasize variety (rather than grouping similar styles together), varying the heights, sizes, shapes and materials on each level and across the width of every shelf – aim for casual asymmetry. Generally, larger objects are happiest on the lower section of the shelves, with the lighter and smaller pieces up top – but don’t be afraid to break this rule every now and then for a freer and more contemporary aesthetic

Aria Bookcase - Porada

Metrica A Bookcase - Mogg

Arsenal Bookcase - Cattelan Italia

Master the Minimalist Mindset

A sparsely populated shelf speaks of curation and confidence, and decorating with a small number of favourite objects turns all the attention to them as refined focal points. While it’s tempting to fill a shelf with beloved items (or unconsciously add to the collection here and there), going for a reduced, minimalist selection lets each piece standout and shine, turning the shelves into a chic, composed selection. Each object has enough space to breathe, and becomes more meaningful and respected by the room afforded to it.

Dedal Shelving - Gubi

BM0253 Shelving Unit - Carl Hansen

Lexington Bookcase - Bontempi Casa

Let Creativity Flow

When are shelves not shelves? When they’re a mini, in-house, private art gallery. Shelving is the place for creative collections – from paintings, prints and photography to sculptures and beautiful, beguiling objets, shelving offers the opportunity for organised, easy curation and display. An art-filled shelf not only prompts meaningful conversations, but is an outlet for self-expression, the display reflecting your personal style, individuality and making the space truly unique – and bringing a daily dose of delight.

Folded Shelves - Muuto

Bookworm - Kartell

Vitra Accessories Collection - Vitra

Tell Your Tale

Shelving is the ideal space to showcase who you are through the objects that narrate your life. As well as visibly sharing your story, personality, interests and experiences with visitors, placing personal mementoes on show has a deeper effect too; being surrounded by memories evokes nostalgia and positive emotions, creating an ambiance that’s emotionally rich, uplifting and positive. Sentimental items are reminders of experiences, people and achievements – keeping them visible preserves those memories, fostering a home environment that feels warm and that you’re strongly connected to.

Joy Rotating Shelving - Zanotta

Pet Lights - Moooi

Planner Shelving - Fritz Hansen

Edit, Edit, Edit.

We all get a little bored with our decor, and shelving’s inherent flexibility means that it’s as easy as lifting-up and placing-down to refresh a wall and the atmosphere of the whole room. Objects can be rotated, swapped out or updated in an instant. Taste changed? New season? Things getting cluttered? It’s no problem on the shelf, the controlled spacing so naturally lending itself to neatness and organisation. Having an ever-evolving collection on show keeps the display dynamic, unexpected and endlessly appealing, keeps the space fresh and aligning the area with who you are and how you want to express yourself.

Eames ESU Storage - Vitra

Nuvola Rossa - Cassina

Loico Bookcase - Agapecasa

Liber Shelving - Tonelli

Inspired to step up your shelving by our blog? Discover our full collection here

More Articles