Monday, August 9, 2010

Design Tips: Open Shelves Dos and Don’ts



Open shelves hint at freedom and carefree modernity… ahh, the clean lines, open spaces and artfully arranged objects. The chunky shelves themselves become artwork… but only if handled correctly! Here are some suggestions for making an open shelving arrangement a focal feature worth its wall space.

Do consider the placement of the shelves and what goes on them before you drill a single hole. Tape up flat mockups made out of cardboard cut to the size of the shelves you want. Then you’ll be sure of the arrangement with a lot less work.

Do use multiples and space closely and interestingly so that the entire system reads as a whole. Vary the size and depth of the shelves, too, for a dynamic

Don’t use just one or two small shelves awkwardly placed. This just adds clutter to a room, not interest. If your eyes jump back and forth as you look at the arrangement, like watching a tennis match, the shelves are too far apart. Your eyes should sweep smoothly within the grouping.

Do think about what you want to display and size the shelves appropriately, the way you would a picture frame.

Do think about the spaces in between the shelves and objects. This should be interesting as well.

Do establish a hierarchy within the arrangement. Pick one big important piece for display and place near, but not exactly in, the center. It should be the most dominate: either the largest thing or the brightest. It should be the first thing you see. If you have many small objects, group these to make a larger singular statement. And asymmetry can make a small collection dramatic.

Don’t overfill unless you’re really good at it. Open shelves are better suited to display rather than real storage solutions. In a kitchen, use open shelving only if you have adequate storage elsewhere, and you want to display your prettiest or frequently used items only.

Do be bold, and have fun!


Until next time!

--Elaine Bothe


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Photos courtesy of West Elm and Pottery Barn


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posted by Jennifer Adams Design Group Blog @ 12:01 PM 

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