How to Style up your Office Shelves.

Just because they have to be practical, doesn't mean they can't be stylish and beautiful too. Abi shares her favourite tips on how to create shelves that ooze style and sophistication, igniting your creativity and increasing your productivity.

Anyone that knows me knows how important layers and vignettes are to all my schemes. I’m never going to be your minimalist kinda girl – maximalism, intrigue, art, objet and decorating to the max! This is no different in a home office, just because they have to be practical work spaces doesn’t mean you can’t make the shelving scheme sing.

Studies and home offices generally require quite a lot of storage space anyway, so rather than just housing magazine files and depressing paperwork, take the opportunity to enliven walls and show off your fabulous reading material or beautiful ceramics collection.

If you are in a conundrum with which style of office shelves to plump for,  should you go built in or even wondering what to put on your floating shelves, read on for a quick rundown of your options to find out the best for your space.

Built In

They are a great use of space from floor to ceiling and also work beautifully in spaces with alcoves or flanking chimney breasts. At one side in my own home office I have a large floor to ceiling library-esque cabinet, and in the adjoining space I used to have a a built in covered in purple faux pony skin. I loved the swanky gentleman’s club vibe.

Just bear in mind that they are tricky to move so think about the location carefully before you go for it!


Super modern, streamlined and clean. Perfect for smaller rooms as they take up minimal space and look fabulous mounted above furniture or fitted in awkward spaces. I just use IKEA floating shelves as my go-to when I want practically invisible storage.

Fixed Bracket

These shelves add more of a casual vibe, I have them in the cabin. The trick is to paint them out. I prime them and paint them the exact same shade as the wall, and they fade into the background – making it all about what’s on the shelves instead.

Now we’ve figured out our shelving style we need to plop cool things on them right? This is what will add intrigue and a glimpse of personality to your office space. The advantage of working from home (well, one of the many advantages!) is that you get to make the space personal to you, so the items you choose here can be a little insight into your world.


Numero uno – books. I love decorating with books – they show my interests, passions and act as a fabulous reference library and inspiration at my fingertips. Obviously interior and art books are my obsessions but it really doesn’t matter what you go for here. Top tip: you can always use other books (facing front) or even prop artworks to cover ugly and/or guilty pleasure reads. 

Sculpture and Art

Next add in some sculptural pieces and art, to show how very cultured and sophisticated you are!  Art can be framed, unframed, originals, prints, photos, a favourite page you tore from a magazine or something the kids have done. Anything goes! Bowls, vessels, pots, and ceramics give shelves a presence from afar. Trays, platters and large plates are great for corralling smaller objects and turning them into a cohesive collection – it’s a classic stylist’s trick.

Lamps and Plants

Finish up with your favourite finishing touches. For me that’s some lighting (whether a beautiful brass desk lamp, little clippy light, or candle), metallics and plants. Why are these my go-tos? Shiny items such as glass t-lights, mirrors, or metallic vases catch the light and add a touch of magic to the space, and nothing repeat nothing brings an area to life like plants.