Shelf Styling | Books, Art, Tchotchkes + More

Shelf Styling | Books, Art, Tchotchkes + More

Shelf styling is one of my favorite things and at times one of my most dreaded. The latter, because it’s harder than you think! Well, harder might be a strong word which is the point of this post – to show you how you really can do it yourself! Perhaps, time-intensive is a better word. But I think if you can keep the formula simple, which we’ve tried to boil down here for you, then you can create shelf magic in ways you never imagined.

Shelf Styling is not as time-consuming as you might think.

The time-intensive part simply has to do with how much stuff you actually need to create those beautiful, layered shelves we all envy on Pinterest and magazine covers. I like to just pick things up here and there even if I don’t yet know where they’re going. When I see a cute Nate Berkus bookend, I’ll pick it up knowing it will go somewhere.

Layer and layers are the keys to shelf styling.

I continue to find that the homes and spaces I love the most have layers and layers of textures and color. So next time you see something you like, that doesn’t break the bank, get it. Even if you ask yourself “where will I put this?” and don’t know the answer. You’ll find the perfect spot. I promise.

TCHOTCHKES, books, and art.

After many years of attempts at shelf styling, I have found my magic formula for chic shelves. It’s simply a combination of these things: Books, art, photographs, and TCHOTCHKES! It’s in caps because it’s the key and a fun word. A tchotchke is simply a decorative object that generally has no real function except to just be cool and interesting. Which makes me like them even more.

Shelf inspiration.

Let’s get further into it. So below in the newly built shelves in our renovation, there was a lot of space to fill. And let me note that there is an identical bookcase on the opposite side of the room waiting, too for its tchotchkes.

Book Shelf Styling with Katie Kime 4
I love to hang an actual framed art piece on shelves.

I love to hang an actual frame on shelves and here I landed on a centrally located one since the computer wasn’t quite tall enough to fill the square it’s in. From there I started on the 4-object formula. I found the bust at the Restoration Hardware outlet and though it was damaged I was in love, again having no idea where it would go, but finding it’s perfect home here.


 I love to display big beautiful coffee table books but if you don’t have many of those just take a stack of magazines shown above. Or for instance below, books become art when simply all the same color spine and flanked by something interesting or even whimsical like a pig…

Gold book ends on purple books.

Below an oversized pineapple and an Ikea clock that doesn’t currently work but inspired by the ombre design, I snatched it up. I will probably never get it working but I am okay with that.

White pineapple and orange clock.

Shelf styling inspiration.

When I read that Dylan Lauren used faux flowers in her NYC apartment it was over for me. I’ve never looked back or been ashamed since.


As for photography, in my opinion, it is the least buck for the most bang. The bougainvillea in the photo below is an iPhone pic I snapped in Greece. The teal frame was $5.99 at Home Goods and yet the impact on the shelves is big. Similar to the photo of our 6-year-old, a target frame makes a funny photo feel artsy because of the textured matte. Color-coordinated books are an interesting but not-too-busy backdrop to these sentimental photos.


Bonus: don’t underestimate faux boxwood as the ultimate tchotchke. Happy styling!


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