Shelf Decor 101

I have spent a while trying to figure out a simple way to explain my process of decorating shelves to you all. It took a while, but I came up with an acronym that might be helpful for you! F.A.B.B.C.A.V. Let me explain…

My tips and tricks for decorating shelves.  Frames, accents, baskets, books, candles, artificial plants, vases

F.A.B.B.C.A.V explains all the must-haves when shelf decorating:

  • F: Frames
  • A: Accents
  • B: Baskets
  • B: Books
  • C: Candles
  • A: Artificial Plants
  • V: Vases
F. Frames

Pictures frames are probably the most obvious thing one would decorate a shelf with and I agree they are necessary in creating the perfect shelf.  (I would also include clocks in the frame category because if you are adding them to a shelf they can most likely stand on their own and are flat in shape.)

Too many frames can make your shelves look out of date.  One big tip I have is that you do not need to put a personal photo in every frame of your home.  Switch it up by adding a scenery image or a printable you can find on Esty like in my DIY Gallery Wall or Master Bedroom Reveal.  You can also search Google for “Free Printables” and hundreds of neat prints with pop up.

A. Accents

Figures, bookends and sculptures are included in the accent category for decorating shelves. Accents are needed to create a balanced look and depending on the size and shape, they may be the center point of your shelves.

I found really cute red ribbon and white ribbon at Michael's.   The Christmas bulbs on these trees I have had for five years and I still love them.  I also added some sparkly winter greenery stems to my tree to offset all the plain green branches.  These greenery stems have a sparkle to them that I immediately loved!
B. Baskets

Baskets can be so useful on shelves to hide ugly things like remotes, cords, and in our home, my husband’s BB gun bullets ha!  

My tips and tricks for decorating shelves.  Frames, accents, baskets, books, candles, artificial plants, vases
B. Books

This is something people might forget about even though we are decorating shelves AKA bookshelves 🙂  If the outside color/texture of the books don’t go with my style I turn them so that the pages of the book show instead or I add scrapbook paper to hide the ugly colors:

My tips and tricks for decorating shelves.  Frames, accents, baskets, books, candles, artificial plants, vases
Master bedroom reveal. Bedroom decorating ideas using neutral colors, blues, whites and gray color scheme. DIY barn door and DIY framed mirror
C. Candles

Candles not only smell great but come in lots of different shapes and sizes.  I love using them as fillers or as the main attractions:

A. Artificial Plants

Now if you have real plants you want to incorporate in your shelves go for it, but most of my shelving has little to no sun so I LOVE faux plants.  Pops of greenery add so much to shelves and give the space some life:

bathroom decor using faux plants, Etsy prints and bright colors
V. Vases

Vases are probably my favorite things to decorate with just because I think they are beautiful.  I love searching at a garage sale for a good vase. A vase can be the center-point of a shelf and is another way to add in some greenery or floral to the space.

My Tips:

Tip 1: Do not try to fill in the entire shelf.  Sometimes all a shelf needs is two or three items.  Keeping the clutter at bay is key!

My tips and tricks for decorating shelves.  Frames, accents, baskets, books, candles, artificial plants, vases
My tips and tricks for decorating shelves.  Frames, accents, baskets, books, candles, artificial plants, vases

Tip 2: Choose a color scheme and use it throughout the shelves.  For our living room shelves I knew I want blues, greens, and neutrals.  So I looked for decor in those colors.  

Tip 3: Don’t get frustrated if the shelves don’t look right instantly.  It probably takes me a month to decide my shelves finished 😐 I need to stare at them everyday and then tweak them to where I finally feel they looked finished.

Tip 4: If you feel something is missing, I suggest you try “shopping” in your own home.  You might have something tucked away in a hutch or being used somewhere else that would be perfect.  I do this ALL the time, plus this will save you money!

Tip 5: If you don’t have many books or need some more books to complete your shelf, go to a thrift store!  Most thrift stores have a book section and you might end up finding some books you really like 🙂

Tip 6: Vary the height and textures of objects on each shelf.  This will ensure the shelves are not all exactly the same and will create a professional look!

Tip 7: Use sentimental items!  I love incorporating sentimental such as my grandma’s vase or a treasured picture.  Just because they may not be modern or new doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate them!

My tips and tricks for decorating shelves.  Frames, accents, baskets, books, candles, artificial plants, vases

I really hope this post was helpful for those of you trying to style your shelves.  Remember it takes time to get the look just right!

Shop some shelf decor items below:

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

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36 thoughts on “Shelf Decor 101”

  1. Really Great Ideas! After reading this I got a sort of inspiration to work on room. Now, I have something to implement this weekend. Thanks for sharing!

    1. LiliesandLife

      I’m so happy to hear that! I’m glad my post could be helpful and inspirational to you 🙂 Happy shelf decorating!

  2. Thanks for the amazing shelf decorating tips Emily! That was a very interesting tip, about turning the books inside to that the pages are facing outward. What kind of artificial plants do you think would look best on wood shelves?

    1. LiliesandLife

      Thank you! As for artificial plants, I check out Target. They have so many cute plants that would look great on wood shelves. Plants with white planters will always go with wooden shelves.

  3. Great article!
    I wish I had this in my possession about a month ago. I build and decorated a shelf unit in our bedroom as a surprise for my girl’s birthday. She loved it but this would have been right up her alley. She would never go for plastic plants, though! LOL She is a big green head!

  4. Hi Emily, I struggle the most with decorating my shelves. Love your step-by-step tutorial! Artificial plants is s good idea to decor. This is so helpful! Shelves and then tables are things I struggle with the most in terms of decor – this breaks it down into simple steps.

  5. Great shelf decor ideas just love those plant decorations 😊so simple n attractive…best n simple ideas are available from your website.

  6. Living room accessories and decoration items plays an important role. It doesn’t only provide cater to the home’s but also improves functionality. While doing inner decoration always remember that the interior spaces are not just enhanced for beauty but are very realistic.

  7. Thank you so much for this enlightening post, I have significantly got some thing right here and I will bookmark this page for your next upcoming post.

  8. I was planning to have a theme party decoration on the auspicious occasion of my friend’s daughter’s birthday and I read your post about “CANDLES ” in which I loved this topic very much and I would love to share it thank you.

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Emily (1)
Hi, I'm Emily

I’m an Interior designer, decorator and blogger.  I help overwhelmed homeowners and DIYers bring timeless design and function into their home so they can love their space and the life they are building within it!  Thank you for visiting 🙂


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