9 Tips For Arranging Your Shelves For The Perfect Shelfie

You can do it.

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Nick Pope

Chances are pretty high that you've seen a picture or two of a perfectly organized shelf and thought "GOALS" or "How do people keep them that neat and pretty?" Because, of course, when your shelves are stuffed to the brim with unnecessary clutter and the thought of organizing them is just too big a task to tackle, looking at beautiful photos of organized bookshelves and open cabinets just seems like the only option. No longer, my friends.

Martha Roberts, author of Shelfie: Clutter-Clearing Ideas For Stylish Shelf Art, is here to save your shelves and help you take back control of your space. In her book written on the "shelfie phenomenon," Roberts s the secrets to creating picture-perfect shelves like the 1.3 million (and rising) posts under #shelfie. Here are 9 of the best tips from her book on how to do it yourself:

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1 Say goodbye to unwanted clutter.
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Nick Pope

Interestingly enough, Martha Roberts points out that while there are negative effects associated with too much clutter (like stress), there are also positives (like increased creativity or innovation). It really makes sense if you think about it. Cluttered spaces with things that don't serve you are useless, but purposefully messy shelves full of collectibles and pieces you cherish are meaningful.

Because of this, sorting through what you have and only keeping the pieces you really love—not just like—is key to making your home stress-free. Once you've chosen the pieces that'll stick around with you, remember: not everything has to go on display, even some things you love can get put safely away.

2 Choose an inspiration piece or mood.
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Nick Pope

Roberts suggests finding a single piece to use as inspiration for your entire shelf space before jumping into the project. In doing so, everything will feel as though it fits. Some ideas include choosing a specific color scheme, a mood you wish to form, an item you want to be the focal point. Whatever you're feeling, focus on that and run with it so it all comes together smoothly.

3 Do away with your obsession with symmetry.
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Nick Pope

Balance in creating beautiful shelves is very different from the typical symmetry many people are drawn to in interior design. By keeping things asymmetrical and using different heights, shapes, textures, colors, and directions (vertical, horizontal, diagonal), you'll achieve a much more appealing result.

4 "Create a 'capsule wardrobe' of styling items."
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Nick Pope

Perhaps one of my favorite tips from the book is this one. For Roberts, her capsule shelfie wardrobe includes books, pitchers, vases, glasses, shells, rocks, crystals, baubles, plants, heirlooms, picture frames, candlesticks, candles, and more. These items are versatile

HOT TIP: Find items for your "capsule wardrobe" at thrift shops, craft websites, specialist shops, and even on vacation.

5 Layer and stack items.
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Nick Pope

You don't have to shy away from certain items just because they look too short on your shelves. By using books, boxes, and other items to raise smaller pieces, you'll add layers to an otherwise potentially boring shelf. Make things unpredictable by stacking pieces that may not normally be stacked. The best way to do this? Experiment to find what you like!

6 Think horizontally and vertically.
White wooden shelf indoor with different home related objects. Books, vase
Getty ImagesJa'Crispy

Stacking items on books is already the first part of this step. Books placed horizontally on shelves make for a visually pleasing difference to the other vertical standing books on the shelves. Roberts also recommends using trays and plates to bring a more horizontal visual along with frames turned so they're landscape instead of portrait.

7 Add texture.
Breakfast tray on cozy bed
Getty ImagesKatarzynaBialasiewicz

Think soft plants, sharp cacti, ceramics, yarn, glass, wood, wax, the list is endless. Play with various textures so nothing feels completely uniform, while simultaneously working perfectly with all the other objects around them.

8 Connect items in a "triangle."
Modern flat interior with posters
Getty ImagesKatarzynaBialasiewicz

If you're working on a space with more than one shelf, imagining a triangle connecting items will make your layout appear more cohesive and perfectly placed. This goes for any object type you use—plants, frames, et cetera.

9 Make odd numbers your friend.
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Nick Pope

"Things arranged in odd numbers (especially threes) have greater appeal than those arranged in even numbers," Roberts notes, adding that "three is the smallest number in which the human brain discerns distinguishable patterns." You know what they say about the three...it's, powerful. But so are 5, 7, 9, and other odd numbers.

10 Shelfie: Clutter-Clearing Ideas For Stylish Shelf Art
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For other genius tips on how to organize your shelves for the perfect "shelfies" and advice on how to organize shelves in different rooms, check out "Shelfie: Clutter-Clearing Ideas For Stylish Shelf Art."

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