Thursday, September 10, 2020

How To Style Shelves and Make a New House Feel like Home

Changes--as I told you in my last post we have had a lot of changes in our lives lately. One of those was moving 400 miles away to another state. With the move came a downsize and buying a new house. We chose a cute, builder basic, new home and with that came some fun, new home aspects such as shiplap and subway tile. But, a new, builder basic house means no warmth, no lived-in homey look, no character. I have been working at adding the "we have lived here for years", curated look.

The open shelving in the kitchen with the shiplap behind it was definitely one of the selling points for me (practical-to-the-core hubby didn't see it). 

How to Style Open Shelving
I wanted the shelves to be both interesting, personal, and practical or useful. I rarely have items in my kitchen that are just for decor purposes. I want to have items I can use, that serve a purpose, and that make me smile. 
Styling Open Shelves
So far I have only styled the left side of the shelves. Because the wine/drink fridge is on this side, I decided to make this the cocktail (and tea) side. Layers, friends, add character and makes it feel like you have added favorite items over the years rather than as if you just moved in.

 The round basket up top is from the thrift store. It adds some texture and warm color. On the top shelf I added a vintage ice bucket that we do use when entertaining, a faux rosemary plant (I am not a big fan of fake plants, but some are great looking and I didn't want to water a real plant on the top shelf), and a vintage TEA box add a bit of color and life.  I like how the basket in the center grabs your attention and then your eyes easily flow or rest on the shorter items on the sides.
Styling Open Shelves
The middle shelf holds some of our cocktail glasses. Displaying these gives the open shelves a definite purpose, a bar space, and is convenient. I have extra glasses in the cupboard above the fridge. I have some old, vintage cookbooks on the other end of the shelf. I had one, found two at a garage sale, and am looking for a few more. I love this 1933 Baking Cookbook,
with handwritten recipes in it.
Styling Open Shelves
My modern cookbooks are stored in the cupboard above the stove.
Styling Open Shelves
The bottom shelf has three jars that I have had. I left the lids as is, I like that they don't match, gives them a more "collected over the years" feel. One has hot cocoa in it, one has gum in it (I can always taste mint when gum is stored by other food so a jar is perfect storage spot for gum), and the smallest jar has friendship tea in it. Propped up against the jars is an old Montana postcard. 
Styling Open Shelves
On the other end of the bottom shelf is a round mirror with a card that a dear friend just sent me so I would have mail in my new home. I love placing small mirrors on shelves to reflect light and as a "frame" or prop spot for photos, cards, mementos. The wood bowl adds more texture and holds bags of loose tea.
Tea Tray
My tea tray sits on the counter with a large thrift store jar full of teabags, a couple teacups, compostable straws, honey. I may look for a honey jar to put the honey in.
Styling Open Shelves
I wanted a small wine holder and found this one at the thrift store. It took a bit to find a plain one (sooo many with grape leaves on them). I think I am going to buy an instant teapot and will plug that in on this counter. 
I will probably continue to add bits and pieces--a small pumpkin for fall, and pine branches for winter, but I am happy with the look for now. 

My top tips for styling shelves and giving them a homey feel:

1. Use personal items that make you smile--the card from my friend, the margarita glasses from a friend for my 40th birthday, the old postcard all invoke a memory for me. Personal items are what give your home a unique to you look rather than a cookie cutter house.
2.  Texture--add different textures. The basket, lighter colored wood bowl, dimpled pewter ice bucket all create visual interest.
3.  Layers--prop items up against other items, stack things, and give depth to a display.
4.  Keep it Practical--you do not live in a shop or museum. Display things that you use!
5.  Mirrors--use small mirrors to bounce light and as a frame for other things.


  1. this all looks so welcoming! glad you overruled the hubby on the open cabinets.:)

  2. I don't know that I could ever use open shelves, but I do like yours:) When we remodeled our kitchen I did have put in one set of glass front doors for my pretty dishes and glassware. It acts sort of as a china cabinet. I love your big jars! I have a couple but sadly nowhere to put them other than in the pantry. You really have a good eye for knowing how to display things:)

    1. Thank you so much! I don't think I could ever do all open shelving like some folks do, but I definitely am enjoying playing with this space. I love jars, I have a couple mason jars that I loved and wanted from my grandma's cold storage shelves--I was just 10 when I decided mason jars were beautiful.

  3. I love how you styled your shelves, Becky! Congratulations on your new home!


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate your kind words!