Shelf Styling Using What You Have

Today's post is all about eclectic shelf styling. And on a deeper level: battling perfectionism. Have you ever let perfectionism hold you back even in simple things? I do. A lot. I have found it can be very debilitating. It can take over my whole life if I let it and eventually rob me of joy.
I love the idea of having white built in shelves to fill with beautiful, eccentric finds and captivating books. I would scour Pinterest for hours basically envying anyone who had the ability to do this. I even created an entire pinterest board dedicated to shelf styling but was believing that I didn't have what it took to get "the perfect look." 

A few months ago, I gave myself a simple challenge as I have been working on pushing back on my perfectionist beliefs: can you use only what you have RIGHT HERE and RIGHT NOW to get the look you want to achieve?

If you love the idea of styling shelves but think you can't do it because you need fancy tchotske's or expensive shelving units to do it...or really have any decor challenge that you have been putting off because of perfectionism...this post is for you. I thought the same thing for a long time until I gave it a shot using what I have. I loved the results and hope you do as well.
I began by pulling a shelving unit from another room to the wall in my living room, where I always thought some dreamy shelf should go. I always thought of this one as purely utilitarian, not decorative. It had never even been in the living room. 

That's when my first perfectionist belief was immediately shattered. When I saw the shelf in the space with my other furniture pieces, it just seemed to fit. Then it got really fun when I began to gather items I have long wanted to display. I chose some of my favorite books and finds. 
I wanted personal mementos included as well. I started by adding some statues that were gifts from my mother and framed photos of my kids. I wanted personal, unique and family oriented for this shelf, so I also added some children's books to finish it off.
When I was finished (which took me about an hour or so in total to get it "completed"), I was pleasantly surprised that my little challenge to myself had worked. 
Here are some simple tips to get you started if you find yourself in the same boat that I was in.

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1. Find a sturdy shelf. 
It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. I started with two of the ones shown below that I have had since my college days. They stack on top of each other. I would suggest, if you are going to display these in a room where children will be to secure the shelving unites safely to the wall. I did this more as an experiment because I knew we would be packing up to move within a few weeks, so it didn't get to be displayed for too long. I am excited to start my challenge over again at the next place!
Look around your home to see if you already have something to use. I had this in the playroom with lots of toys and kids books on it. I was able to find new homes for all of those belongings and moved this one into a spot in the living room. I cleaned it up and had a blank slate to start with.

2. Gather items to be displayed. 
Go on hunt through your home for things that you love. Think in groups and collections for having an artfully arranged shelf. I wanted an eclectic, yet cohesive vibe. I chose similar items like baskets, plants and books. I also wanted it to be personal so I added some framed photographs and special gifts.

Some favorite books found on my shelf:

3. Get busy styling. 
When I decorate, I usually just go on my instincts as to what looks pleasing. I vary textures, colors and heights of items. Try stacking some books and having others vertically arranged. You can get inspiration for arrangements from other bloggers or Pinterest. There are really no rules since it's your home and style that should be catered one else's.  

Just go with your gut when you start out. You might not hit it out of the park the first time you start styling. I tweaked mine many times before going with this final look. And I continue to tweak often as the mood strikes or my eye notices a change that might be more appealing. You have nothing to lose with just trying! It might take some time, but the more practice, the easier it becomes.

4. Don't let perfectionism win! 
I am so glad I did this experiment and really challenged the perfectionist in me. It's like my creative side and perfectionist side are constantly dueling it out in my brain. One side says just go for it, the other side says no, wait until we can get it done perfectly. If I follow that side, it never happens. This might not be "perfect" or all that "pin worthy" but it worked out perfectly for me. 

If you are like me, I encourage you to challenge yourself as just might surprise yourself! 

Perfectionism is a trap that keeps us from seeing the beauty and the joy that is already around us all the time. I know for me, I constantly need to push back on this and let go of the idea that anything can and ever will be perfect. And really embrace the imperfections and quirks that make each of us unique. Including how we style our shelves :)

Till next time...
~Alice W.

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  1. I hear you! I have to fight that perfectionist bug too. As for your shelf, you nailed it! It is definitely Pin worthy! Love it!
    Wouldn't it be great to see our spaces how others see them?

    1. Thank you Cecilia! Yes, it would probably change our whole perspective if we could see ourselves and spaces through others eyes!

  2. Yep, I do the same thing! And I SUCK at arranging shelves, I don't know why that seems so hard! I love how yours turned out!


  3. Perfect project! The styling is great - nicely put together without looking contrived. I appreciate the reminder about perfection too. :)


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