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Open Shelf Styling for Every Space

If I had a superpower, it would probably be open-shelf styling. It's my favorite part of a project because it's when we get to layer in personality, texture and visual interest to our projects. Open shelving can work in every room in a home, but there are different things to consider with each one. Below, we've broken down all our favorite tips for styling open shelving - from the kitchen to the playroom.


We're seeing more and more kitchens lean toward open shelving, especially in smaller spaces. It provides function, makes a space feel better and helps break up the look of wrap around upper cabinetry. Open shelving in the kitchen is the most challenging type of open shelves to style because they truly need to balance form and function. There are a few key guidelines to follow and we've outlined them below:

  1. Keep most frequently used items on the lowest shelf - Bottom line, your open shelves need to function. Keep your most used items on the bottom shelf like cutting boards, glasses, coffee mugs or salt cellars. Your top shelf can be reserved for infrequently used or decorative items.

  2. Upgrade your functional items - When we launched LW Home, we focused our kitchen collection on beautiful, everyday items to elevate your life. Upgrade your mixing bowls to a beautiful hand thrown set, swap pantry staples in packaging for ginger jars or canisters, and free up drawer space by placing wood utensils in a crock.

  3. Flip your cookbooks backward - Cookbooks come in all kinds of colors and can add visual clutter, so our biggest styling hack is to turn them around so only the white pages show!


Open shelves in living spaces get to be a little more about beautiful styling than utilitarian needs, because they typically hold your favorite decor items, books and sentimental items. Whether they are custom built-ins or a series of bookshelves, the principles of styling open shelving in the living room remains the same:

  1. Alternate shelves with a 1:2 pattern - If the top shelf has an object centered in the middle, the second shelf should have two object groupings next to each other + repeat.

  2. Cluster like items - We like to use threes for smaller objects or two similar objects in varying sizes.

  3. Settle on a color palette - Narrow in your color palette to 3 or 4 color groupings: white, black, wood, brass, etc.

  4. Mix metals - We love using different metallic finishes in a set of shelves. The trick is to ensure you spread them out across the entire book shelf at varying heights and positions.

7th Avenue Project by Lexi Westergard Design / Photography by John Woodcock

Mountain View Project by Lexi Westergard Design / Photography by John Woodcock


Open shelving is actually a fantastic storage solution in kids spaces. It makes it easy for them to access what they need and even easier to put things away. Here are a few of our favorite styling tips for open shelving in kids spaces:

  1. Baskets are your friend - Keep toys and sports equipment corralled and accessible in baskets on the lower shelves so little ones can easily grab them.

  2. Expand your color palette - In kids' spaces, mix up your color palette! We like to stick to primary colors or pastels for a cohesive look, but don't feel limited to just four colors.

  3. Add closed storage - When designing a custom built-in, it's nice to have at least some closed storage options. Electronics, art supplies and board games fit perfectly in lower cabinets and are easy to grab and go.


While offices have cut back a lot on paper since things have gone digital, a home office still requires ample storage. From paperclips to extra pens, styling your open shelves with intention can help clear the clutter and keep you inspired at work. We love to use beautiful storage boxes for office supplies like post-its and notebooks. Currently loving these, these and these. Planters or vases work perfectly for organizing pens and pencils. Storage solutions don't have to be ugly!

51st Reno Project by Lexi Westergard Design / Photography by John Woodcock


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