How to Style Dark Shelving

Design Tips | February 11, 2020

When it comes to styling dark shelves, you have really be careful about everything you add in. Too dark and it will blend in with the shelving. Too much of one color and it will feel flat. So today, we’re going to walk you through how we styled the shelving in the office of our Midway Remodel and then at the end, we’ve rounded-up some of our favorite items for styling on dark shelves.

When it comes to styling shelves, it’s important to consider scale. You don’t want a lot of little things because then the shelves will feel cluttered and messy. It’s important to vary the sizes of the objects you’re using that way you can have some items that stand alone, allowing for some empty space around them, giving the shelves room to breathe. Additionally, varying heights and sizes also makes the overall look more appealing to the eyes as it gives them space to rest but also encourages movement.

When styling dark shelves, our number one recommendation is to incorporate varying types of texture. This will add depth to the overall look and it can be achieved using lighter colors that will stand out against the dark color. Our client had a lot of items that they needed storage for and these large baskets were perfect for that. They fill those spaces as if they were made for it and they hold a lot. The best part is, the color stands out nicely against the dark paint color and they add a beautiful textural element to the overall design. If you have a lot of items that you need storage for but don’t necessarily want out on display, consider baskets like we did here. In their living room shelving, we used these lidded baskets which also have a lovely texture to them as well, so that’s another option too.

Since the shelving is painted, you can incorporate a fair amount of wooden elements without it feeling too heavy. Here we used wooden bowls that have pretty details on them to add a more organic element to the space. In addition that, we recommend using greenery. Real or faux, we’re here for it. Greenery adds that living element every space needs, plus we love how the green really pops against that dark blue. We love mixing old with new and used a lot of the client’s books as decoration because they added that lived in, collected feel this space needed. White is another great color option for decorative items. It’s not harsh to look at, especially against a darker color, so it helps to soften the overall look while adding some much needed contrast. To help keep the shelves looking more streamlined and clean, we turned a lot of the books around so that you see the pages instead of the spines. The many different colors of the book spines can be distracting, but doing this allows the books to remain a more tonal decorative accent rather than taking over and demanding attention.

That being said about the books, if you have pretty design type books, even if they’re not about design, but the spine is pretty, use that as a decorative element. And of course, we like to mix in some metallic pieces to help add depth as well. Varying the different finishes of the decorative pieces helps to keep the whole space interesting. Our last tip is to make sure that you’re not overcrowding the shelves. It’s OK to fill some shelves from side to side, like with a row of books for example, but then place other objects so that there’s space around them within their own cubby slots like we did here. Again, is keeps the space from feeling cluttered or overcrowded and allows the it to breathe.

sources: baskets / wooden bowl similar / brass beads similar / picture lights / white geometric shapes 

photos by Lindsay Salazar photography