Open shelving ideas: how to use display shelves

You'll be ready to take the perfect 'shelfie' with our gallery of smart and stylish display shelving ideas

Have you embraced the open shelving trend? ‘Shelfies’ have become a more and more common sight on Instagram and Pinterest, as interiors enthusiasts share snaps of their carefully curated display shelves.

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Read on to find out why open shelves are so popular right now, as well as ideas for bringing them into your home and an inspirational gallery of display shelving ideas taken from real homes.

Scandi-style minimalism has been a dominant decor style for years, so it’s no surprise that more maximalist looks are starting to edge back into the spotlight. For instance, Cottagecore is set to be the hot decor style of 2021 – check out our ultimate Cottagecore guide for the full run-down, but in a nutshell this aesthetic is all about embracing cosy clutter to give your home a country cottage vibe.

If you’ve been following the Cottagecore trend, you’ll know that display shelving is a core component of the aesthetic. And even if the rustic look isn’t for you, open shelving is a simple and effective way to put your personality front and centre in your decor.

What to put on open shelves?

Marie Kondo famously tells us to treasure the items that spark joy, and open shelving is all about putting them on display. That means you are the best judge of what to feature on your display shelves, but start by thinking about ornaments, picture frames, books, houseplants or any other trinket that makes your home feel welcoming.

In the kitchen, more and more of us are choosing to turn use open shelving to put our cute and quirky mugs, plates and dinnerware on show rather than whisking them out of sight in cupboards. Once a common feature in country cottages, plate racks are soaring in popularity once again – no surprise, as they combine the appeal of nostalgia with the emerging trend for open kitchen shelves.

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If you’re looking for inspiration for how to make the most of open shelving, read on for our gallery of ideas drawn from our Real Homes features to find out how ordinary homeowners have brought display shelves into their decor.

Display shelving inspiration gallery