A shelf above your sofa can provide pleasing visual interest to a room — or it can be an unattractive and cluttered distraction.
And here’s why: Most people randomly place a few favorite knickknacks on a shelf and call it done...
But a well-planned shelf is the result of displaying décorative items in an attractive arrangement to enhance your existing room’s furnishings and color scheme.
Here are some design tips to make it happen.
Scale and Proportion
Decorative items on a shelf above your sofa must be in proper scale with the size of the shelf. Articles that extend beyond the shelf’s edge are too large and may look like they are about to fall off.
Conversely, items too small for a shelf may look dwarfed and challenging to see from across the room.
In addition, consider the size of the room when selecting decorative items to keep them in pleasant proportion to the room. For example, a large room with high ceilings needs a few tall shelf accessories to complement the room’s architectural features.
Style and Harmony
Consider a room’s existing theme (if you have one) when selecting items for your shelf. For instance, a couple of large seashells or a jar of smaller ones, a framed beach picture, and a piece of driftwood enhance a beach cottage theme.
If your room has a rustic lodge style, items such as a bear figurine, pretty pinecones, and an old lantern will complement the décor.
If your room isn’t themed, remember that balancing the visual weight of shelf items also adds to design harmony. For example, placing a tall vase in the middle of your shelf with a potted plant on one side and a framed picture about the height of the potted plant on the opposite end provides visual balance.
The end goal is to provide pleasant design harmony by maintaining the same theme throughout the space.
Color, Texture, and Layering
Add cohesiveness and contrast to your shelf display with color. A black shelf decorated with white accessories against a brown wall adds striking contrast and visual cohesiveness above the sofa.
If you’d like to add color, draw them from your sofa’s upholstery when selecting items.
And let’s not forget about texture, which adds increased visual interest to your shelf display. Accessories made from wood, stone, paper, glass, ceramic, and metal offer a visual treat for your eyes. Flowers, greenery, seashells, pinecones, and twigs add a natural element from the outdoors.
Lastly, layering decorative items with the taller items in the back, medium-sized items next, and smaller items in front creates an aesthetically pleasing display.
The Big Picture
No, we don’t mean artwork, although you can include artwork in your arrangement.
Decorative items on a shelf above your sofa can appear much different up close compared to far away.
Stand across the room from your shelf and sofa to get a view of the total picture — sofa, shelf, accessories, and wall.
Walk by your shelf several times during the day to get your immediate reaction; rearrange or replace an item that visually “bothers” you repeatedly as you pass by.
If a particular shelf item doesn’t look right to you, replace it with another decorative accent and stand back to take another look. If it feels good and you are pleased with the arrangement, you are finished.
Keep Mixing It Up!
Yes, we just said if you are pleased with the arrangement, you’re finished. But that doesn’t mean you can’t switch things up. That’s the fun of shelf décor...it’s simple and easy to add and subtract different items.
For example, switch your potted green plants with seasonal sunflowers or spring buds. Change up a framed photo. Add a new art canvas. Replace an existing accessory with a new one.
Just keep our design tips in mind, and you will have a sofa/shelf combo that’s a constant delight.