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Keep your open shelves from getting cluttered with these 5 tips

by respaced on July 10, 2017

Open shelving — that is, shelves that hold your collection out in the open instead of hiding it behind cabinet doors — is a SUPER popular look right now in home design, but it can be difficult to pull off. The tendency is for people to cram too much stuff on the shelves, which turns your shelves from magazine-worthy to crap-on-display.

If you know you have a tendency to live with a bit too much stuff in your life, then open shelving might not be for you. But if you really like the look (and it can look FABULOUS when it’s done right!), then open shelving can be a great addition to your home decor.

Here’s how to do it right:

1. Figure out what you are going to store on it, and stick to just that category of items. For example, you might want to stick to just books, vases and knick-knacks, like in the photo above. Don’t expand that category to include electronics, board games, DVDs, or empty plates and glasses. That’s when it starts to look like a catch-all.

2. Knick-knacks should be at least the size of a softball. In magazines, you will often see that the items on the shelf are even larger, more like soccer-ball size (think vases, plants, sculptures, etc.). The smaller the item, the more cluttered your shelf will look because you will need to group a lot of them together to have any sort of display.

3. Group items together rather than lining up everything in a row.

4. Leave at least 20 percent of the shelves EMPTY! That empty space is key to keeping your collection looking more like a display and less like the knick-knack aisle at Goodwill.

5. Don’t feel obligated to line up all of your books on end. In fact, they look more interesting if some are lined up on end while others are stacked on top of each, pyramid-style.

Follow these tips, and you will have open shelves like these pictured from The Container Store that look stylish, clean and uncluttered.

Do you have open shelving in your house? How do you keep it from getting too cluttered? Share with us in the comments below.

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