Emily Henderson's Expert Tips On How To Style Your Shelves

Shelves are useful for storage, and they're also an opportunity to show off your personality and style. There's so much potential for artfully displaying your decor in these small, unassuming areas. But the blank canvas can also feel intimidating. Fear not, because the host of "Secrets From a Stylist," Emily Henderson, is here to give her tips on how to approach styling a shelf, per HGTV. Whether they're built-in bookcases or floating shelves, you can use these tips to decorate them like a professional.

No matter what types of objects you choose to include, it's always a good idea to have a consistent color palette throughout the shelves, says decor blog Hey There Home. Using different textures and shapes prevents the bookshelves from looking too monotonous, while some larger pieces combined with a little bit of blank space will make the shelves look balanced. So, how does designer Emily Henderson approach styling shelves? It's actually pretty simple once you break it down.

Stack it just right

The first thing you have to master is stacking. Luckily, once you get some practice, it becomes second nature. Emily Henderson suggests starting with a few chunky books, three or four will work best (via HGTV). The largest books should be at the bottom then stack them from biggest to smallest, with the smallest on the top. Next comes positioning. The designer says to try placing them askew, so long as the end result doesn't look intentional or forced. Otherwise, lay them so the spines are all flush and even.

Choosing the exact books can also be part of the aesthetic. Picking books that reflect your interests or hobbies is much more authentic than grabbing a bunch at random. You may also want to consider each book's jacket or cover color, mentions The Everygirl. These can influence the aesthetic as well, so be sure to keep color and pattern combinations in mind.

On HGTV, Henderson suggests topping the pile with a rounded object, sculpture, or bowl that is about the size of the smallest book. This way the piece itself won't look dinky or out of place on top of the pile.

Vintage accent pieces

Using vintage pieces in your decor gives your home plenty of personality and prevents it from looking too matchy-matchy. Emily Henderson suggests heading to the thrift store to look for smaller items like pottery and artwork that you can add to your shelving. "Don't buy an item just because the price is really low," Henderson says. "I have a rule: If it's not something I'd buy for $100, I shouldn't buy it for $10." This advice can help you be more intentional about the pieces you purchase and make sure you're bringing home something you really love.

Thrift stores and antique shops can be a great place to find decorative items like vintage books, playful figurines, clocks, candleholders, and vases, notes Life on Summerhill. And don't worry if they don't immediately fit into the rest of your home's aesthetic. You can always look for the potential a piece has, such as it's overall shape and integrity, before doing a little DIY work on it, like spray painting it to better fit your style.

Brighten with blooms

Brighten your shelves with vases of fresh cut flowers to add color and liven up the space. "Roses, lilies, or peonies are pretty, no-fail varieties," claims the designer. She also suggests bouquets with some full blossoms and a few closed buds that will open later. When it comes to choosing a vase, she says to go for one with a narrow neck. These are easier to style and don't require as many flowers to make the arrangement look full. Rearrange the flowers so they're not in a perfect dome, but instead look natural and straight from the garden.

Many people shy away from fresh flowers because they don't last long. While you can't make a bouquet last forever without buying an artificial one, there are ways to keep cut flowers looking pretty longer. Remove leaves that would sit below the water line to prevent any bacterial growth, advises ProFlowers. You'll also want to cut the stems on a diagonal angle so they can receive the most water. Fill the vase with room temperature water and add a packet of flower food. Before adding your flowers, be sure the food has dissolved into the water. Change the vase water every two to three days and clean the vessel before returning the flowers. These simple tips can make your bouquet last twice as long.