A friend recently purchased an étagère for her living room and asked if I could give her some tips for styling it. An étagère is a piece of furniture made up of open shelves. It is similar to a bookshelf, but is lighter, more open, and used primarily for displaying decorative items rather than books. Here is an example of a gold étagère from Ballard Designs:
Étagères tend to be elegant and feminine-looking, often are in gold, and are a great way to bring graceful refinement to a room.
Here are some tips for styling an étagère:
Keep it light and airy:
Étagères are not bookshelves and are more decorative than functional. They are meant for displaying pretty and interesting objects. If too much is placed on their shelves, they look cluttered. Keep things simple–only a few objects are needed on each shelf.
Add a few stacks of books:
Even though étagères are not bookshelves, they look best when styled with a few stacks of books. The books look nicest when they are similar in size, hardcover, and have their jackets removed. I prefer book covers that coordinate with a room’s colors. If you stand books upright on one shelf, try stacking books horizontally on the next shelf. You can top off the stack of books with a decorative item such as a large shell, a pretty box, a gold urchin, a small plant, or a piece of pottery.
Choose a few tall pieces—such as a a vase, candlesticks, a plant, or a ginger jar—to go on a couple of the shelves.
Leave open space:
Don’t fill the shelves with too many objects. The shelves are most appealing when there is some empty space. Stay away from items that are very small–they are visually distracting.
My daughter created this graphic with some styling tips:
Here are a few other examples of étagères that are styled nicely:
I hope these tips provide some help and inspiration!