Shelf Styling is a Process

I recently stopped over my client’s house to begin styling her shelves in her family room. I wrote about the progress of her room in this post and after this most recent visit, we both feel that the finish point is near! And that’s definitely an exciting thing to see. All of the room’s elements have been on the design board and it is now so rewarding to get to see the results in action. Shelf styling is definitely a process, though. Every designer approaches it differently, but for me, I have some tried and true methods when I work…

1. Start from scratch. The shelves should start with a clean slate, i.e. empty. My client was amazing and already spread out everything she had, so we could see what we had to work with. That’s so refreshing and helpful, so you can get right to it.

Where we started…

Today, I styled the shelves seen behind the sectional. There is my empty slate.

2. Find all of the hard cover books you can use and remove the book jackets. You will be amazed at how they all of a sudden look like bound collector’s books.

3. Before placing items on the shelves, I hung a trio of sunburst mirrors on the wall. I made sure I did that first, so I had the mirrors right where I wanted. Then, I styled around them. Hanging mirrors on the walls behind your shelves gives the furniture piece depth and interest. You could also hang small pieces of artwork or family photos.

4. Start placing the items on the shelves to see how they will work together. This can be a long process. And it may even change from today to the next styling visit. I like to take pictures and study them, to see if the shelves are how I like them. This can involve a lot of editing, but it is really worth it and the true fun part of the room!

This was how I had the shelves styled in phase one…

Like I said earlier, the three mirrors were hung first. I then started styling around them. But this first phase seemed a bit too cluttered to us. I made a few more changes…

This was how I had the shelves styled in phase two…

I removed some of the books on the top shelf, but the globe still didn’t look right in that spot and it all felt cluttered and busy.

And this was how I styled the shelves in the final phase…

5. Editing, editing and more editing! I think it is almost impossible to get it 100% right the first time. Stepping back to see the changes you have made is a great way to finalize your shelves.

Do you like the changes? I moved the globe to the top shelf, removed some of the glass bottles and added a blue and white bowl to the small stack of blue books. We are both excited about the transformation of these shelves. And we were happy to be able to use so much of what my client already had! I know adding those personal items will be meaningful to the overall design. We are now on the lookout for two more storage bins for the bottom left shelves. I won’t necessarily match them, but find coordinating bins in a similar size. We will also add another detail to the wall space next to the globe. This room has a very high angled slope to its ceiling, so we will add a wall clock to visually draw your eye up and to also help make that tall wall feel useful.

So stay tuned… we will be having much more fun in this space in the coming months! 

Our Quick Solution for Board Game Clutter

If you’re a parent, chances are you have loads of toys! When creative, easy organizing tips come along to store those toys, I become a happy camper! A long while back, my blog friend Courtney posted about an easy solution for all of the puzzles and games we can accumulate. By using small mesh bags that are primarily used to machine wash delicates, you can throw away the bulky boxes and just keep the game with directions. This has been a life saver for storage! So, here is our shelving unit where this solution was used…

The top half of the shelves holds my fun accessories and books, while the bottom shelves are for the kiddos. But when the games are tucked away in cute burlap bins, it doesn’t scream out: KIDS TOYS HERE!! With the mesh bags, I have been able to fit so many more puzzles and games than before. We still keep some of the games in boxes, but storing half in bags cuts the bulk down a lot.

I found our mesh bags at Target and they sell for about $1.50 each. They were in the same aisle with the irons. 

Do you have any creative solutions for storing kid’s toys?? Please share!!

The Beginnings of a Reading Nook

Carving out that little space in your home to escape, have some quiet time and read a great book is a special gift! When that space is also a great spot for your kids to unwind and read, it’s a win win for me! Our finished basement has a wall of open shelving and I am finally getting around to making that space feel warm and inviting. With all 54 cube shelves finally styled {phew!}, I decided to add a personal touch to the outside of the shelves by hanging one of my favorite etsy prints…

I have always loved the idea of layering your shelves and hanging mirrors and artwork to the outside of those shelves. It adds that little something extra and also provides an additional spot to hang art when space is limited in your home! When I purchased my large horse print for my family room, the etsy seller also gifted this beautiful piece. I have been waiting for the perfect spot for it, and I think I found it! In addition to fixing up the shelves, I also made this space more inviting by carving out a little seating area for the kids…

This space is not complete yet, but is off to a good start. I plan to hang a large piece of art above the chair, layer a patterned rug over the carpet and bring in some poufs for additional seating. A reading chair and ottoman to fit the adults is also an option. Since the top three rows have books for myself and my husband, this is a great spot for us all to read together! The baskets on the top row hide all of my fabrics for design projects, craft supplies and odds and ends that are not pretty enough to be shelf worthy! This small spot in our home is proof that a little getaway doesn’t have to include an entire room. One wall/nook in your home can be all you need for a quite retreat!

Do you have a little getaway space in your home to unwind??

Our Basement Shelf Style Reveal!

With the previous post being about the basement, I thought I should just jump right in and write about another finished area of the space. {Don’t you just love checking projects off the list?!?} This was a big project to tackle, as I had the contractors put together a 54 cube unit bookshelf. I will reveal the secret to how this was done, later in the post! As with any home, we needed additional storage… a place for our books and mementos and a spot for all of the kiddos books and treasures. I have always been a fan of bookshelves that hold more than just books! It’s also a great place to display family photographs, art, sculptural objects, etc. So here it is…

Bookshelves Hold More Than Books…………………  

As you can see, there were a lot of shelves to fill! For a while there, I wasn’t sure we would have enough books and stuff to fill it, but I was wrong. If you look hard enough in your home, you can find it! For these shelves, the top section is for our things and the bottom half holds all of the kid stuff. I love pairing the everyday {books} with something unique {sculptural pieces, objects, etc.} It adds depth to your shelves and tells more of a story about you! I also try to use the entire shelf… layering pictures either in front or behind books. That gives the illusion of more shelf space. And I also like to lay the books both horizontally and vertically. It pleases the eye to see different heights and proportions when looking at the shelf and makes it that much more interesting. When deciding what to do with the top row of shelves, I knew I wanted to add texture with woven baskets. Since we don’t have an IKEA nearby, I knew it would be pricey to find 9 of the same size baskets. So, I went to my trusty TJ Maxx and decided to just find 9 similar baskets with different shapes. I actually think I like it better than having them all the same. Each cube measures 12×12, so I just brought along my measuring tape to the store and measured as I shopped! I definitely recommend that when looking for a particular size basket. I was surprised to see that some of the baskets were too big, when I thought they would fit perfectly. It saved me a trip to the return counter! At the beginning of this post, I said I would reveal the secret to the way these shelves were made. Well… they are just 6 sets of the Martha Stewart cube shelving from Home Depot! I had the contractors buy these shelving units, remove the backs on them and build them into the wall. They connected them together and added the baseboard and crown molding to give them a true built in look. I also plan to add a framed piece of art or mirror to one of the outside shelves. I have always loved that look!

What have you checked off your project list lately??

Styling Kid’s Bookshelves {Our Basement}

When we had our basement finished, we decided to add tons of storage for books, kid stuff and anything that needed a home. The storage we decided on seemed too much at first, but who am I kidding? With kids in the house, it will fill up quickly. I am proud to say that there are more shelves filled now, than empty! The contractors built this shelving unit by connecting ready made cube units, with a total of 54 cubes in all! Since it goes up to the ceiling, we decided to keep the top three rows for our stuff and the bottom three for the kiddos, which is more in their reach. To make this a proper before and in progress, I’ll show where these shelves began…


The above picture is a true before shot, since it is even before the carpet is installed. We have made a lot of progress since then, and I am happy to say that the kid’s shelves are pretty much complete.

After in Progress

Now I am very realistic, and I know these shelves won’t stay this organized for long. But it’s a great start, right?? Here are some tips when styling kid’s shelves (especially when you have 27 to do!!)

1. Mix it up by laying some of the books vertical and some horizontal. When the spine of the book is showing, they can see the title and it will still entice them to find their favorite!

2. Layer in some of their favorite stuffted animals and sculptural toys. It’s a great way to add texture and for them, it makes them smile to see their beloved items on display.

3. Face some of the titles out, so they can see the cover. It’s a great idea when you are low on books and have a lot of shelves to style. It also comes in handy for them to find a book that might have otherwise been lost on the shelf. I plan to switch these books up over time, so I can display ones that interest them at the moment or one they might have forgotten about. (For example, if the siblings are not getting along, you can display a book about sharing… in a very subtle way! hint hint!  )

We’ll see how long this lasts, but at least the books have found a great home and will be used a lot! That’s what it’s all about.

Happy Friday !!

{DIY} Backing Shelves With Wrapping Paper

In my last post, I mentioned that I was looking for a floral paper to use for the back of my secretary shelves. After reading Emily’s suggestion to try a bright floral, I knew this would be a great option for the room. The wood is a very dark mahogany which I love, but the accessories were getting lost in the space.

Before the Paper

I didn’t want to choose anything permanent, because I didn’t want to ruin the wood finish on the antique piece. How can I make this paper removeable without compromising the wood underneath? Blog friend Pam suggested using double stick removeable poster tape. I went to Jo Ann fabrics, and did just that! While I was out, I thought I might browse through their fabrics to see if I could find something to line the back of the shelves with. I did find some great fabrics, but didn’t want to spend $20-$40 on something that I might want to switch out later. {By the way, did you know that Jo Ann Fabrics now sells an HGTV line of fabrics? They are pricey, but beautiful! I think I’ll wait for a great sale!} So back to the drawing board. I left with the tape and decided to go into Target, since they usually have pretty cool wrapping paper. And there it was- a beautiful vintage looking wrapping paper for $3.99! I immediately loved it and decided this was the one! And if I didn’t love it on the desk, at least it would be great for wrapping presents. Here is the paper and tape I found…

The Materials

Since this paper has a white background, I knew it would brighten up the dark wood and make a difference in how the accessories stand out. Luckily, the shelves slide right out, so it was easy to place one large piece of paper on the back of the shelves. Here is the process..

Without the Shelves

I needed about a 2×3 piece of paper for this project. I cut it to size and made minor adjustments to the paper before attaching the tape to the back of the desk. I placed about 9 pieces of double stick tape to the back of the desk, making sure I got the corners and the center. When the shelves are put back into place, I knew that would also hold it well.

Attaching the Tape

Those little square pieces you see are the double stick tape. It was great to work with, because if I didn’t get the paper in the exact spot I wanted, it was easy to remove and start over. {Which happened about 3 times!} Here is the paper all ready and wating for the shelves…

Paper is Up

And here is the desk with the shelves installed…

Shelves Are In

And now it’s time for the accessories! I have been changing the styling since the paper went up, so I may even edit it some more. Theare are many options for shelf placement in this desk, so I can always adjust that later on. But here are the afters for now…

I have been having fun with this new change. What I love most, is that it’s versatile and can easily be changed when I come across a new paper or fabric that I love! All of the accessories were already in my home. I just shopped around my house and changed things up a bit. I only spent $3.99 on the wrapping paper! Just to recap, here is another before, without the paper…
And After
Have you ever tried to use wrapping paper for projects that don’t include wrapping presents??

Styling Tips and Tricks

When putting together e-design boards for my clients or decorating my own home, my focus is always on the accessories. They are the icing on the cake and take a space to the next level. The accessories are usually what gets noticed when company is over and can be a great way to show your personal design style. They are also great when updating a room on a budget, because amazing accessories can draw your eye away from an old sofa or outdated furniture. Here are my tips and tricks for styling!

Layering is Key
When thinking about shelves, art can lean on the shelf while smaller accessories sit in front. Layering your accessories adds depth and dimension to your shelves. And they actually make your shelves look bigger!

Our Family Room
Balance and Texture
When restyling your shelves, it’s best to take everything off and start fresh. {Which is also the time I dust the shelves!} Shop around your home for unique finds with different shapes and textures. I always tell clients to pair something flat with something sculptural and the everyday with something unique. A tried and true styling trick is to pair a stack of books with a pretty sculptural piece on top!

The picture above also shows how you can color code your books to give that rainbow effect. It’s a great trick when you have so many colorful books. All of a sudden, it’s well put together and thoughtful!

Turn Your Books Around
If you want to give your shelves a more neutral look, turn your books around so the pages show! It’s a subtle look and creates a softer, more subdued feel in the room.

Line the Back of Your Shelves
To bring texture and another color or pattern to your shelves, line the back with pretty paper! You could go as easy as attaching craft/wrapping paper with double stick tape or line the back with wallpaper. You could also paint the back of the shelves, like the image below. If the back of the shelves were the wall color in this room, the accessories would not stand out as much.
Source: via Amber on Pinterest
Mix Tall and Small Pieces
This is a great way to get that layered, collected over time look to your shelves. Pairing tall vases with small accessory pieces adds more depth and looks great!
I am in the process of choosing something fun to line the back of my secretary shelves. Since this is an antique piece and I love the wood’s finish, I don’t want to paint or permanently cover the back in any way. I am thinking of using some type of paper and attaching it with double stick tape. Any thoughts on color or pattern?
Our Living Room
I saw a faux bois paper that might work. Also, if you have any other better suggestions instead of using double stick tape, I’m all ears! Whatever you think is best to preserve the wood.

{Before and After} Shelf Styling in Our Family Room

As we all know, a house is never done. There are accessories to move around and things to change. I’m ok with that, since I don’t like an accessory in one spot for long. I am always moving things from room to room and shopping around my home for changes. Here are some recent changes I made to our family room shelves…


And here are the changes…


To keep it real, I actually didn’t just ‘shop around my home’ for all of these accessories. I’ve been doing some store shopping, lately! But, half of the things are from other areas in my home!  :) Starting with the top shelf, I swapped out two smaller prints for one large print. I like that it draws your eye up, which gives the illusion of more space. It’s a print from Italy that we had in another part of our home. The tortoise shell vase just switched sides and the chain accessory was from Target. It’s from the Nate Berkus line and it’s now on clearance!

For the second shelf, I brought in books from other parts of the home and also used some that we already had on this bookshelf. The clock was just moved to the top shelf. The ‘B’ candle jar was from our mantel and the Audrey Hepburn frame was from our dining room. I just found the white ginger jar at TJ Maxx for $12.99!

For the third shelf, the white tray and coral now sit on a dresser in the living room. If you follow me on instagram {AmberBInteriors}, then you know I just scooped up this grapewood branch at Pier 1 Imports. I had been eyeing it for a while and decided to go for it. I’m so happy I did, as it’s large enough to have a shelf of its own. You can pick one up HERE.

For the fourth and fifth shelves, I found these amazing baskets at TJ Maxx. The fabric has great texture and adds a casual/ rustic quality to the room. They can fit everything from pillows and blankets to board games.

One more before…


And After…


To give you an idea of where this shelf is in our family room, here’s a little snapshot..
I wrote about the striped art prints on the fireplace HERE. I chose the green striped wrapping paper, because I liked how it worked with the Italy print from the top shelf.
Have you found any great deals lately… from shopping at a store, or your own home??  :)

Our Fall Mantel

As promised, here are the pictures of our fall mantel. I kept some of the things as is… the wall clock, the windsor chair and ‘B’ candle. The new changes include branches from our front yard birch tree, a leaf plate and a mossy stone bird. Here is our nature inspired, fall mantel…

I also switched around some art and moved the graphic art piece from our wall to the mantel. I think it adds a modern touch to the natural, traditional elements. You may also notice the little plastic sticky pieces that are on the top of the mantel. A while back, I had a huge mirror on this mantel, and those sticky pieces were there to prevent the mirror from sliding. I should take them down, since I don’t need them anymore. Should have done that before the pictures…  :)

I love it when I can decorate using free things from around the house. The branches were easy to clip down from the tree, were free and instantly add a nature inspired accessory to the mantel.

Do you change out your mantel with the seasons?

Shop Around Your Home for This Styling Trick

Styling shelves and tables are always a work in progress… you either change them seasonally, get bored with the arrangement or find new treasures that you want to include.  Even better yet, you shop around your home and look for new treasures! I always tell clients to see what they have in their home first, before going out and buying new items. Maybe you can re purpose an old item, give it new life with spray paint or move things from one room to another for a change. I always love fun changes that are also free! Working with one of my most recent clients, we talked about styling the coffee table. I suggested to shop around her home for books and small trinkets or vases. A great tried and true idea is to stack a few hard cover books on the table and add a vase of fresh flowers, or an unexpected accessory on top. It’s functional, because you will always have your favorite books within reach! Here are some great styling ideas for your coffee table:

Flowers or little treasures paired with books bring great texture and interest to the table. It’s a mix of the practical with the pretty; something with straight lines vs. something sculptural. It’s a great pairing! Take a look around your home… I’m sure you’ll find amazing treasures!

Which of the above photos is your favorite??