In this post: Looking for ways to personalize a tiny entry foyer? Try these shelf decorating ideas to add a note of style and flavor to a very small space.⇒
Has this ever happened to you?
You spend a good bit of time decorating your entryway because you want to make a grand and stately first impression. You make sure the most beautiful elements are facing the door so that’s the first thing people see when they enter your home.
Then no one uses the front door!
Instead, friends pull into the driveway and use the back door. Your family has the code to enter through the garage and let themselves in.
You think, “Why didn’t I focus on decorating the back entry?”
The answer, for many people, is that the back entry foyer is either ever-so-tiny or it’s decorated as a mudroom.
In our case, with our kids grown and out of the house, I decided to forego the mudroom concept. However, our back entry is quite small.
So the question becomes how do you add style to this tiny space while ensuring it functions to suit your needs AND at the same time expresses your personality?
Like most rooms in my home, I started on the back entry a couple of years ago and took it to a certain point. I made sure to focus on function first, as well as adding a focal point.
So I started with a little white chest of drawers to provide storage for things like hats and gloves, then flanked it with two chairs to have a place to sit when taking off boots, and topped it off with a mirror for a quick last-minute check before leaving the house.
I added a few decorative details to give it the French-inspired style I love, as well as to accommodate the things one brings into the house when they arrive home.
The garden statue parallels the cherub plaques on the wall and the gilt crown plays off the vintage mirror. The gold trinket box serves to corral all of our keys, so we always know where to find them.
A trio of mercury glass candlesticks adds a note of light and glimmer to this little dark space that’s lacking a window.
Then the space stayed like that for a while (you can see it HERE), but soon the things that bothered me started to really nag at me, as things like that typically do. The three things that most bugged me were the pale yellow wall color, the tile floor and the light fixture that was way too small.
So this past year we painted the walls my favorite neutral color, Tapestry Beige. We added crown moulding and a new crystal chandelier. I got a rug to cover the bland tile floor.
And I was pretty happy with the view we see when exiting the house.
But there was one key thing left do. I still didn’t love the view one would be greeted with when entering the house.
The entry faces a narrow piece of wall. It’s the perfect spot for a small shelf unit because it doesn’t take up a lot of space, provides an open, airy feeling, and presents an opportunity to display decorative objects that tell our unique story.
I already had the shelf unit, but it wasn’t telling the story I wanted it to tell.
In fact, it wasn’t expressing much of anything. It had become a weigh station for items removed from one room that were looking for a new home. I’d wanted to restyle it for quite some time.
I finally decided now is that time.
There is definitely an art to styling shelves and for some people it comes naturally. But you can also learn the best tips and tricks to help you create an artful display. Here are my top shelf decorating ideas.
1. Pick a color story
Without a doubt the number one way to ensure your shelf styling looks cohesive is to select a color story. It might be a single color used in various tones, a combination of colors, or a set of neutrals mixed with particular metals.
For my entry shelf I decided I wanted to use white and beige with silver, and only the palest of pinks. Every time I found myself adding something outside my palette, I quickly removed it to make sure I kept on track.
2. Select a theme
A stylistic theme can also help to maintain a sense of connection among your shelving decor, whether it be showcasing a collection, presenting items from a specific location or culture, or utilizing another aspect that ties everything together.
Perhaps you might choose a theme of mid century modern decor, or in my case I opted to feature vintage items with a European pedigree.
3. Repeat a few items
A clever trick for creating a pulled-together look, is selecting 3 or 4 items to repeat in more than one place.
I selected vintage silver, antique marmalade jars, classical busts and dried hydrangeas for the items I would echo throughout my display, taking care to hand pick the specific objects for the way they’d relate to the total design.
4. Consider balance
Along with the intention to guarantee consistency in color and theme, it’s also important to make an effort to maintain balance. By varying heights and shapes, and assorting your items to preserve harmony, you can straddle the fine line between asymmetry and disproportion.
This is the trickiest part of styling your shelves and the one you should spend the most time on. Place objects and then stand back and look at it over and over. It can be a matter of trial and error, but keep a few things in mind.
- Heights should be varied, but beware of extreme differences that look lopsided.
- If you have a heavy item on one side, balance it with a few lighter items on the other side.
- Observe how your eye moves across the objects. There should be a fluid sense of motion.
5. Cluster like items together
When exhibiting a collection, add a note of complexity by placing a few like items together. The pieces will make a grander statement when perceived as a group. You may note how I organized the antique marmalade jars in this display.
The smaller the items, the better they will look gathered in clusters.
6. Use risers and backdrops
A favorite tip is to use books as risers and photographs as backdrops. They can help vary heights, increasing the sense of balance, or fill in holes where necessary. Decorative boxes can serve a similar purpose, as can small framed art.
A shelving unit is the perfect place to share the decorative objects that tell the story of your life. Even in a minimalist home, where the decor is limited, this is the one spot you can add flourish without creating a cluttered look.
You can tuck a slim shelving unit into the tiniest corners and if your guests wind up entering through a narrow back entry, they can still be welcomed by your finest styled objects!
Shelf Decorating Ideas Source List
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
Today’s post is part of our 20 Minute Decorating series. Please be sure to visit all the other links below for simple ideas to decorate your home quickly and easily.
- Back Entry Foyer – Makeover Room Reveal
- Back Entry Foyer – Styling a Bookshelf (Round One)
- Entryway Rugs: How to Create an Elegant Entry Foyer
- Mixing Vintage Decor with Modern Accent Furniture
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