The secret style weapon to fix any room…

5 years ago
3 minutes

How would you like to change the atmosphere and look of a room in the time it takes to say “this place needs a makeover”? There’s a little secret that is simple, economical and, once in place, works its magic over and over again. For a new look that keeps on giving for practically nothing… just install a shelf.

Define your space

Sounds just too simple, doesn’t it? But it works in a number of ways. Add a shelf, for example, to define an area. Perhaps your dining area seems to float in space a little. A shelf, about the width of the table, will anchor it in place. Use it to echo the colours of an area and bring them together, or to create a focal point that you can have fun with.

Object display

A shelf adds another dimension to the room. Balanced with artwork and furniture, it is sort of unexpected but exactly right – and the styling possibilities are limitless. Items of different heights seem to work best and a string-of-pearls plant or any trailing greenery dripping from the end looks fabulous.


Mix up angled and round shapes. Add a bit of shine and sparkle. Mix textures and combine large and small items. Think about what the layers and colours are doing.

Artistic display

A shelf gives you the opportunity to create your own mini gallery with framed photographs and artworks. Change the look and rearrange it whenever the mood takes you.

A shelf can be practical as well as decorative. Use it to make the room tidier, but in a smart way. An attractive box or a round container can be a stylish hold-all for those bits and pieces that you want to have around, but not scattered around.

Focus the room

Adding a shelf to a spare room makes it more personal and inviting for guests. A bedside lamp, a small pot plant and maybe something quirky like a couple of comics, and the room is immediately warm and welcoming.

Likewise, bathrooms always benefit from some added interest and, again, plants are an appealing way to bring a little outdoors in. Use several and create a curtain of living, breathing greenery.

Organise the kids

It’s a given in children’s rooms. No kid wants their toys behind closed doors and the stuff is all so colourful and appealing that it looks great anyway. Put the shelf at a height that the child can access and give them the fun of styling.


If the kids are younger or you’re decorating a nursery, try different looks and don’t feel limited to small items. What about the drama of a multi-coloured kite looking as if it has just swooped in. Look for interesting shapes or unexpected items such as antique toys.

An easy fix

Floating shelves, which don’t use support brackets, give a very clean line and fit best with most decor. If your look is more country, then wooden brackets will add to the ambience, or use metal brackets if the rest of your decor has an industrial look.

Ikea’s floating shelves are simple, strong, a piece of cake to install and very easy on the budget. There is one with slender drawers that does handy double duty as a place to drop your keys, electronic passes and daily bits and pieces.

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