Decorating Built-Ins

Feature Photo via

Write Down Your Ideas

One of the most common questions that a lot of people tend to ask a design professional is: how do you decorate a bookshelf/built-in shelf/wall shelf? Not everyone can pull off a good clean look, but the truth is, it’s easy and totally something you could do yourself! 

Each person has a preference and style that they like. Some people enjoy the look of mixed metals, others don’t. Some like abstract art, while other people prefer an object piece or people in their art, and some people prefer live plants over faux plants and vice versa. So, I begin by asking my clients, what do you like? and what do you not like? Simple! Begin with those questions, jot down your ideas, and go from there. 

Always measure a shelf’s width, height and depth to determine what kind of finds will fit the area. 

Size Matters… 

Yes, it does! If your figurine (for example) is 13″ but the height of your shelf’s inside is 12″, that figurine won’t fit. Always pay attention to size before making that purchase! Width can sometimes be a little bit challenging. If the width of the shelf is 36″, you’ll have to find pieces to fit the puzzle without looking a mess. 


Books! Books will be your best friend when decorating a built-in. Use books that you have lying around the house. “They’re not pretty” you say? Turn them around so that the pages of the book is showing instead of the book end (see feature photo for example). Books are the best fillers you could have, and let’s face it, everyone has books lying around the house somewhere. Want to add a bonus points to the look? Add bookends!

Plants – Small, large, plant stands, find the right size to fit a shelf. But plant stands will need to go on the floor just as you see in the feature photo. 

Photo frames – throw in some good oldies of you and your family, or some newbie photos. Make it interesting! 

Art – Throw in a couple of art pieces, something that you enjoy looking at or something that tells a story. Artwork is always a good conversation piece. 

Baskets – Be sure it fits! Most baskets are big, but some are made to fit, so keep your eyes peeled for something that does fit. 

Branches – Use branches for fun, decorative art pieces. They are the perfect filler to add to a wide shelf to keep a clean look. 

Figurines – Figurines are my favorite kind of filler! These pieces can be abstract or actual objects. There are no rules to using figurines, so find something that interests you and adds another conversation piece to the table

I’ve put together some of my favorite Target finds that are decently priced, and complete a good look!


There are so many ways to create a beautiful and clean look. Have fun with it! Happy decorating! 

Have questions? Comment below… 

Need help with your design? Contact us.

(Please note: this post was not sponsored, its all based on professional Interior Design knowledge and opinion).