Okay, so you just hung your floating shelf (or another type of shelf, that’s fine, too), and now you’re wondering what in tarnation to put on it. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few pointers as you get started:

  1. Don’t be intimidated—there’s no wrong way to do this.

  2. If you’re stuck, create a functional piece; adorn it with things you’ll actually use.

  3. Have fun!

That all being said, let’s dig right into some tips, tricks, and inspirational ideas to help get you started!

9 Inspiring Ways to Style Your Floating Shelves
9 Inspiring Ways to Style Your Floating Shelves (10 min. Read)

General Tips for Styling Your Floating Shelves:

In order to achieve the look you’re going for, ask yourself: am I aiming for symmetry or balance? Symmetry is very pleasing to the eye, but it’s safe and doesn’t necessarily create any visual interest that holds attention. 

You’ll also want to decide on a color scheme: do you want neutrals, black and white, or earthen tones? Maybe you can use a pop of color that stands out and screams “LOOK AT ME!”

You may also want to think about what textures and shapes you’ll be using on your shelves. Are you trying to stick to an even collection of textures and shapes? Or, perhaps, you want contrasting shapes and textures for visual intrigue! 

Also, don’t forget how powerful negative space can be! However you swing, this is going to be RAD. We believe in you!

Ideas for Floating Shelves:

#1: The Classic White & Minimalist

The Classic White & Minimalist
The Classic White & Minimalist (feat. Aksel Premium White Floating Shelf)

If there were a single most popular design choice for floating shelves, this would have to be the one. Picture us this:

Classic, white shelving floats effortlessly against a white wall or white tile for an ethereal effect. Upon those glorious, drool-worthy shelves, sit objects of neutral color and shape. Perhaps a zig-zag white vase sits next to a little cactus family in white, glossy porcelain pots. On the edge, a neat pile of gray, black, and white books lies horizontally. Perhaps a long white thatch basket sits on the shelf, filled with old music tapes. Otherwise, there is quite a bit of negative space.

For this look, stick to neutral, near-white colors for all objects and throw in tiny plants (they can be fake, no one will know!) for a pop of color!

#2: The Daring Black & Chic

The Classic White & Minimalist
Daring Black and Chic (feat. Aksel Premium Black Floating Shelf)

Nothing screams “chic” like high contrast and sharp edges. To achieve this effect, choose glossy or matte black shelving, and hang them on a bright, white or neutral wall (or against painted paneling). To adorn your shelving, pick grayscale items like small trinkets, black and white photos, white books, porcelain figures or animals, and maybe even a bright red candle or two.

#3: Bold Colors With a BANG

The Classic White & Minimalist
Bold Colors with a Bang (feat. Tromso Flush-Mount Floating Shelf)

You can also go to the extreme with color and match your room’s decor! Perhaps your sitting room is ocean-themed, with muted shades of blue-green, sandy whites, and yellow or navy for accents. Tie those colors into your floating shelves by selecting an off-white shelf and adorning it with sandy-colored items, a clear dish or vase filled with seashells and blue-green sea glass, some rope, a bright yellow starfish, and a deep navy-covered book.

Think about the room as a whole and decide what will complement your other decor!

#4: The Unconventional Cubbies & Cubes

The Classic White & Minimalist
The Classic White & Minimalist (feat. Aksel Alder Floating Shelf and Maggie RADius Bookend)

Some of the coolest and most intriguing wall adornments are unconventional in nature. They make you go “hmm.” By using unconventional shelving, you can catch people off-guard! For example, a square-shaped floating shelf with a dark mahogany finish could float against a light tan wall. Inside the box, a black geometric trinket with sharp, triangular angles might sit next to a tiny plant inside a round, white pot. Above, on the upper surface, a sprig of cotton might sit on top of some white and gray-covered books.

#5: The Vintage, Faded Look

The Classic White & Minimalist
The Classic White & Minimalist (feat. Aksel Alder Floating Shelf)

Whites, muted grays, rustic and faded wood, foliage greens… swoon!

To achieve this look, you can paint and distress your shelving or simply purchase shelving that is already made to look like this. When decorating your vintage shelving, choose items that may be older or look like they’ve seen better days. For example, Polaroid pictures, rusty trinkets, an old pocket watch, an old candle holder, or plants in chipping pots can all add to the authenticity of a vintage shelf.

#6: Shelf & Hook Combo

The Classic White & Minimalist
The Classic White & Minimalist (Aksel White Oak Floating Shelf and Shingle Wall Hook

Why stop with simple shelving? You can create a space that is much more useful in one simple step: hanging a hook rack just below your shelf. This maximizes the amount of space you have to store things and it allows you to display some neat items. For example, you could place a long, white, rounded floating shelf in an entryway against a colored wall, then place a bar with white hangers just below the shelf. Decorate the top with beautiful things, then use the hooks in a functional way— hanging purses, coats, umbrellas, and the like.

#7: The Headboard Shelf

The Classic White & Minimalist
The Classic White & Minimalist (feat. Aksel RADius Premium White Floating Shelf)

Don’t have a headboard? This project is definitely for you!

Instead of a traditional headboard, reach for a floating shelf that either matches your wall or stands out from it! You can decorate this however you like, but a cool idea might be to put plants atop it that will grow downward—this will create a stunning visual effect, especially on a bright white or very dark wall color.

#8: A Floating Bedside Table or End Table

The Classic White & Minimalist
The Classic White & Minimalist (feat Aksel RADius Hatch Grey Floating Shelf, Book Wedgie, and Maggie RADius Bookend)

If you’re going for a headboard shelf, you might as well go all-in with matching floating bedside tables, too. Don’t forget that floating shelves can also be used as end tables in the living room or sitting room! Square-shaped floating shelves work especially well as floating end tables since you can place things inside them and pin things to the sides.

#9: LED-Strip Lit Shelves

The Classic White & Minimalist
The Classic White & Minimalist (feat. Aksel Nutmeg Rough Sawn Floating Shelf)

Many people forget that those LED light strips are available (and some can even connect to your smart home!) and are great for DIY projects like these. You could create a glowing gallery wall or simply deck out your shoe collection by installing floating shelves and installing LED strips to the underside or top side. Let your lighting imagination run wild!

Boom! There are nine ideas for your next floating shelf project! What are you still doing here?! Get out there and start styling... we believe in you! 

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another really cool svg