How is your “staycation” going? Have you gone stir-crazy yet?  Are you looking for a small, yet simple home improvement project to pass the time? Do you have an étagère that you found at an estate sale, put it in storage and haven’t figured out where to use it or how to style it? Or maybe it’s piled with stuff in a corner of your living room and every time you look at it you get overwhelmed because there’s so much space to fill and figuring out what to do with it feels daunting.

I get it. With so much going on in your life it’s easy to leave things for another day. Now that so many of us have a little time on our hands, I have the perfect solution! How to style your étagère. It’s easy, quick, and will add personality and style to whatever room you choose.

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My office étagère

What is an Étagère?

It’s a classic piece of furniture with open shelves for displaying ornaments made of glass, wood or metal. The word étagère comes from the French word étage that means “shelf. An étagère is a versatile shelf that can be used in any room of your home. You can use it in your office, your entryway, at the end of a long hallway, bedroom, living room, dining room, etc.

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Asymmetric arrangement – work stuff & decorative objects

I inherited the vintage bamboo étagère that I have in my office area from my Grammy. I remember seeing it in her Florida room every time we went to visit from about the 1980’s. For those that don’t live in Florida, that would be your sunroom. She always kept a large piece of driftwood on the very top. My mom now has that piece of driftwood on her deck outside the back door.

How to Style Your Étagère

  1. Less is more – It can be very tempting to fill in all the space. Don’t do that. Think about what items you have in your home that will complement the materials your Is made of before placing anything on it. Stick to the key pieces. You can always add more later if it feels too empty.
  2. Variety of size and scale – Choose pieces that are different sizes and heights. Everything the same height or similar in size is boring. Stack books to make pedestals for your smaller pieces. You want to stagger same size items to create movement and a visual path for your eye to follow.
  3. Make it personal – Add things that are personal to you. Maybe you found a beautiful vase on a trip to Mexico, or a hand painted landscape on a piece of tile from a street vendor on your last vacation. These things catch the eye and tell a story of places you have been. They can bring happy memories to mind or serve as inspiration.
  4. Avoid clutter – An étagère is not like a regular bookcase. The ends of the shelves and the back are typically open. That means it’s not meant to be completely filled. If your Étagère is tall and narrow, you can use one large item per shelf. A little wider like mine and you can add more things to it. Use negative space to your advantage.

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Asymmetric arrangement – short to tall

What to Put on Your Étagère

  • Books
  • Plants
  • Ceramic vases
  • Statues
  • Magazine holders
  • Small light fixture
  • Pretty containers
  • Small framed pictures or art

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Asymmetric arrangement with negative space

Think of a “zig zag”. Place your books or large storage containers first. Start at the top shelf and stagger the placement so that everything isn’t all in a line from top to bottom. Then fill in the open spaces with whatever else you have that’s decorative. You can use symmetry where each end of the shelf is a mirror image of the other for balance. Or you can choose asymmetry where the heights and sizes vary at either end of a shelf for even more interest.

So now that you have your inspiration, go through your home and pull together the items that you need (if it’s in your office) and/or decorative items to give it personality. This is an easy and quick home improvement project that you can do on your own in a couple of hours.

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I keep my Benjamin Moore paint swatches, camera bag, and tripod on the bottom shelf

If you’re still not sure how to do it or the end result doesn’t how you pictured it in, we offer email consults that are perfect for when you need help styling a bookcase or other small area in your room. We also offer video consults when you want to rearrange and create better traffic flow in your space.

Once you finish styling your étagère you’ll feel good about creating a beautiful space in your home that tells a story or makes use of an item you might have let go. You’ll have a functional as well as pretty shelf that showcases your personal style. And I would love to see it! Take a picture and go to to post your “shelfie”.

Don’t let that piece sit in storage gathering dust when you can pull together an elegant, effortless, and personal style statement that will be a timeless addition to your home.

Many people want a beautifully furnished home, but don’t have time to figure out every small detail. Christina Rodriguez of Diva by Design guides you through the process of creating a perfectly planned, personalized, and pulled together space. This way you can relax stress-free in your fully finished home or office. Let us take care of the details so you don’t have to!

CLICK HERE to contact Diva by Design to talk about your new interior design or decorating project.

©Diva by Design 2020. All rights Reserved.

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