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Photos and tips: 10 ways to make the most of shelves

By Cathy Hobbs
When most people think of shelves, perhaps kitchen and bathrooms come to mind, a ledge to merely temporarily place something in the course of a daily routine. Instead, consider using shelves and shelving as a decorative area to help add interest and pizzazz. From metal to colors and even shelving of various lengths, here are some tips for how to incorporate shelves into your existing decor.
Built-in shelves serve as an alternative to a freestanding dresser or armoire in this bedroom. (Design Recipes) Neutral-colored plates create a minimal look on shelves behind glass front cabinetry. (Design Recipes) Sound The gallery will resume in seconds Light-colored floating shelves create interest in this dining area. (Design Recipes) A symmetrical display of short shelves paired with large artwork helps add drama to a large wall. (Design Recipes) A mix of different length shelving creates an unexpected look in this dining space. (Design Recipes) Metal shelves add an element of industrial chic. (Design Recipes) Show Caption of Expand

Consider untraditional elements such as metal shelves, especially if you are seeking a modern and minimal look and feel.
Mix and match. Mixing shelves of different lengths and even colors can add interest.
Add elements such as framed photography, greenery and accents. Shelves don’t just have to be for books.
Consider built-in shelves. While an excessive amount of built-ins can be a turnoff, thoughtful and creative placement can be both purposeful and impactful.
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Consider black or white shelving, depending on your wall color. The contrast can act as an interesting design element.
Incorporate shelves in entertainment areas such as dining and living rooms where shelves can display treasured mementos, family photos or memorabilia.
Consider using shelves on long walls as an alternative to traditional artwork.
Mix shelves with artwork. Often artwork can help to create a sense of balance.
Consider placing shelves in a room that may need extra surfaces such as a child’s room or crafting space.
Place shelves in a useful area such as near an entry or mudroom.

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