Remember when you wished you had more time at home to spruce up your space? Now is your chance. Start by restyling your shelves. You may be social distancing, but when it comes to transforming your arrangements from cluttered to collected, you need to get up close and personal with the displays.

You’ve piled on the books, propped the boxes and haphazardly placed keepsakes here and there. If this is your formula for arranging collectibles on your shelves, you likely need a new approach. We’re here to help. Inspired by displays created by designer Gregg Hodson in his previously featured SLC home, here are 10 tips to help you turn clutter into eye-catching displays.

Step back and evaluate the general balance of your shelves’ arrangement. Properly distributed visual weight, mix of asymmetry and symmetry, and the use and repetition of color and distinct finishes can all affect the overall balance.  Remember to expand your contents beyond books. Consider adding collectibles, treasured objects and even framed art to introduce interest, visual depth and eye-catching vignettes to your arrangement. Make certain to leave negative (empty) space that allows your items to breath and not appear cluttered. 

Stack some of your books horizontally to add variety to the volumes lined up vertically. The stacks can be used as stages for displaying small pieces like this red bowl. 

Hang art on the back of your shelves. Consider framed paintings, small plates and small architectural remnants for your groupings. Arrange the items in front strategically so that they don’t obstruct the artwork behind. Place key art pieces at eye level so that guests can easily inspect and admire them.

Choose glass, crystal, mirrored and metallic pieces to introduce sparkle and draw light into your displays. Consider using a tiny lamp, small art light, illuminated objects or even little candles to deliver light into dark corners and brighten your arrangements, day and night.  

Enlist decorative objects to serve as unusual bookends. Make certain they are weighty enough to support your volumes. 

Group collections or similar items on a tray to create a single focal point and eliminate the clutter that scattered objects can create. 

Give small items added size and visual significance by giving them a lift. Stage them on a single book, an acrylic block, a shallow plate or even a small slab of stone. 

In curio cabinets or small shelves, organize collectibles in groups and repeat color to help foster a sense of design continuity. Here, orange repeats on bowls, tea pots and even book jackets helping to move your eye from item to item.  

Incorporate imperfection to contrast with highly organized and symmetrical arrangements. The seemingly careless stacking of these bowls make the display more artistic and approachable. Simply stacked dishes also foster a relaxed design. 

Stack items to create a single vertical statement. Individually, these boxes are interesting, but when stacked, they also become sculptural. 

For more ideas and inspiration click here.

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Brad Mee
Brad Mee is the Editor-in-Chief of Utah Style & Design Magazine.