It’s taken you years to curate your collection of treasured finds- be it fine china tea cups or golf memorabilia or bronze statuettes- now you’re ready to display it for the world to appreciate. As designers and art lovers, we value the time and effort you put into curating your treasured finds and we love nothing more than to help you showcase it as a museum or gallery stylist would.
Here are some tips to get you started on the right track.
Before you start with styling the bookcase or cabinet consider two factors:
First, what will you be displaying? Look at it like you are telling a visual story. Whether on a mood board, or just by organizing your books and treasured pieces on a table, create small vignettes that you will later be able to tie together within the cabinet. Will there be one showpiece (hero of the story) that will link all the other shelf displays (chapters) or will it be independent shelves (chapters) with reemphasizing a common theme?
Next, once you know what you will be displaying, if the cabinet itself is structurally sound but needs to be refreshed a bit, consider adding lighting to highlight a showpiece or contrasting the back wall with paint or wallpaper as a way to tie in all the different pieces. If, however, you need a brand new built-in cabinet as part of your remodeling project, remember to discuss the collections and books you will be displaying with your designer.
On to styling the shelves!
A safe and tried rule is the 1/3 rule: 1/3 books, 1/3 accessories and 1/3 empty space.
Once you’ve mastered the rule, here at Darren James, we’re all for breaking it too! So, start with books (and trays if you have them). Display some vertically and others horizontally. Obviously, trays would stand in for horizontal books. They can also be arranged in the middle of a shelf in a triangle shape with the tallest book in the center and flanked by bookends on either side or a pair of your favourite sculptures or statuettes.
Next, bring in your collections, objects d’art, framed photos and art pieces. Add depth and visual interest by layering items. For example, by varying height (layer the cluster of frames or collection of objects by placing taller pieces towards the back and shorter pieces in the front). You can also add height to some objects by placing them on top of stacked books. Also remember that a beautiful vase or found treasure can be placed on a stack of horizontal books.
Choosing to display one item on its own on one shelf and lighting it for instance will draw the eye to it. Displaying a single piece on one shelf will give it importance. Leaning a piece of art and anchoring it with a vase on either side is also a good idea.
Clustering a collection will accentuate the impact and a good rule to remember in this case is that grouping objects in odd numbers creates a visual impact. If you have a collection of tiny treasures, consider displaying those in a small vitrine or unique glass container in order to keep the display from looking cluttered.
Two other good design rules to keep in mind are that repetition creates visual interest and symmetry is comforting for the eye. But again, some rules were meant to be broken however, they must be done intentionally by a well-seasoned creative eye.