Scout & Nimble

The Secrets of Shelving

the secrets of shelving
As designers, we thrive off of creativity and possibility. In fact, we crave it. We have one key ingredient that allows us to curate and captivate, to engage and inspire belonging: openness. Lately, shelves have been our obsession. We love the freedom to mix textures and patterns, metals and woods, and greenery with objects. They offer room to explore, experiment and showcase ourselves. Here, we give you our best tips for open shelving in any room of the house.

living room
With open shelving, we’re all artists. Don’t be afraid to approach white walls with flair— shelves are their BFF. Our go-to? Choose one color palette and stick to it, or arrange the shelves by color. In your gathering space, showcase your personality by adding fun clocks or picture frames. Pick out a neat brass light with hinged arms to highlight your favorite art. Agate bookends and that stunning piece of driftwood you collected from the shore? Totally possible. Minimal or eclectic, the opportunities are endless.

The bedroom is your personal zone where you can display your hobbies and show off your style. Your space should inspire and reflect your best self back to you. Try implementing open shelving above your bed or desk, and use it as an opportunity to pick and choose decor according to mood. Feel like writing more? Display your most well-loved books next to your fancy writing tools, candles and journals. Or maybe you’ve been dreaming about a vacation. Add some coastal flair to a shelf with thoughtfully placed earthy elements like handcrafted beads, plants and stones. Choose wisely and design from the heart, and your whole vibe will feel cohesive in no time.

OK, we’ll be the first to admit that the bathroom is easily cluttered. Cotton balls, toothbrushes, bath elements and towels can get out of hand, and fast. (Where did all the bobby pins go?!) No matter if you’re working with a large or small space, there’s plenty of opportunity to play with built-ins, recessed shelving or narrow spots. It doesn’t have to be a major renovation, either. Try implementing open shelves next to the shower or in that blank space above the toilet. Go wild and switch out your old medicine cabinet for open shelves; we dare you!

So you scrapped your cabinetry for open shelves. Now what?
» Open shelves are perfect for displaying common kitchen items like dishes, glassware or statement cutting boards. Not only are they easily accessible for every day, but they look utilitarian and play nicely with organic materials like plants.
» If you use it, it’s fair game for display, but make it clean. Glass jars are an easy way to display loose leaf tea, grains or coffee in an organized manner.
» Bring in some personality with greenery, trinkets from travel, candles and artwork to add life to empty shelves. You even can grab a cute chalkboard to rest against your tile. Who doesn’t love an inspirational quote?

Lighting is key. Keep in mind, no matter what elements are on the shelf, if they’re not catching your eye, they’re just kind of there. Draw attention to your fun design elements with a simple yet elegant sconce. It adds character and saves room on your shelf for your fave items. Openness is the name of the game. It invites opportunity for balance, personality, minimalism and warmth. Spruce up any room and keep it open, friends. Above all, add some flavor and make it you.

Scout & Nimble is a retail site and blog that aims to make expert design accessible to all. Follow at