• Katie Corcoran

Love A Good Shelf-ie?

Updated: Jun 27

One of the most common questions we're asked is “How can I make my bookshelves look good?” or “What do I put on the open shelves in my kitchen?”

Don't fret. Here are 3 Steps and 5 Tips to get you Shelf-ie ready!

1. Choose your color scheme.

Do you like black and grays or are you drawn to color? Choose 2 - 3 items in the same color palette, and know you can always incorporate neutral items too. Love the white/cream/turquoise combo with the natural texture of the baskets here...

2. Shop for items in your own home!

Have any old books (or new ones!), cameras, vases, etc? These the perfect items for display and they were right under your roof!

3. Layout. Layout. Layout.

This is the time to explore layouts. Play around with this! A wicker basket on one shelf may coordinate with a wicker plant holder on the opposite side. OR one side of your shelf may have books horizontally and the opposing side may have them vertically. Love this layout guide I found on Pinterest...

To Top It Off...

1. Consider using small wall art or photographs that you already own (these take up a good amount of space on shelving). One thing to keep in mind is your color palate. Choose pieces of art in the same color family to create a cohesive look. If you are using photographs of the family match the frames and consider using all black and white or all color. I like to place art or photographs in the center of the shelf as the focal point.

2. Vases, jars, candle holders, and bowls are great fillers. These don’t necessarily need to match but should be in the same color palette as mentioned above. If you want blues for example try to find these items with blues in them. Again they don’t need to be a perfect color match simple in the same family. These items are great alone on a shelf or if they are small enough on top of a stack of books works too!

3. Books books books! Old or new books can be placed vertically or horizontally. I love to stack items from Tip # 2 on top of books or place books vertically with a vase holding them in place. You can do both! Get creative.

4. Go green! Small plants look great on bookshelves. Faux plants work the best in my opinion as usually these spaces don’t get a ton of light.

5. Small miscellaneous items can be very fun to incorporate as well. I once found a pair of old binoculars in my basement and put those right on top of a stack of books. Another client of mine had a great desk clock of her grandfathers that we used as well. This is an opportunity to showcase family heirlooms!

BONUS TIP: Fill a shelf with an item as simple as a basket or crate. Sometimes shelving can look overcrowded. I like to put baskets or wooden trays on the bottom bookshelf!

Remember you don’t need to be matchy-matchy! Play around with what you have and remember to not overthink it! Now, show me your Shelf-ie!

#corcoranrealtyco #stylespace_mke #shelfstyle #shelves101 #showmeyourshelfie #homestyletips #homestyle


Katie Corcoran is a Realtor, Broker Owner at Corcoran Realty & Co and Style Space. Corcoran Realty & Co. brokerage firm located in Milwaukee's North Shore.  Katie Corcoran sells real estate in the North Shore of Milwaukee and Greater Milwaukee area; Whitefish Bay, Shorewood, Bayside, Fox Point, Glendale, Cedarburg, Port Washington, Brookfield, Wauwatosa, Bay View, Franklin, Mequon, Thiensville and most of Ozaukee County.


Call Katie Corcoran at (414) 975-7968 or email at

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