On The Shelf

Artwork Appeal | Style Stories

Darren Palmer has a broad portfolio, having studied fine art & graphic design, originally working in advertising and owning his own graphic design company. After succumbing to his true passion, Darren now operates his own interior design studio and has been a judge on numerous seasons of The Block.

In Sydney’s East I came across the shop window of a fragrance store. Each product was the same size and shape as the other, the only difference being the exterior colour or finish. What made me take notice was the way the products were displayed. Every wall was mirrored and filled with a metallic shelving system from floor to ceiling, which made the fragrances stand out individually. This was a perfect example of shelving being used as a decorative element.

You can create the same amount of interest and drama in your home by thinking about what type, size and purpose for shelving you might have. Shelving can be a brilliant way to fill an otherwise blank wall if you choose not to occupy it with art or architectural interest like a fireplace. Shelving can also be a great way to highlight sculptural items.

In my own home, I’ve made a feature out of an arch between the dining and lounge rooms, making it a place for books arranged in stacks and alongside each other, as well as treasured items from our travels, décor items, candles and plants.

Floating shelves came to the fore in the 2000’s and 2010’s, which makes white or black styles look a little dated. If you desire that look, consider a picture shelf or a group of picture shelves - a great way to display multiple artworks in a room.

Shelving units are brilliant room dividers, separating open plan spaces without a solid barrier. There are so many approaches to working in shelving for this bespoke purpose - from timber to metal frame or sheet, your imagination is virtually your only barrier. 

You can achieve a similar result with large-scale, freestanding shelving units. Though you need to be sure that you have fastened them appropriately into the floor, ceiling or wall.

The best way to decorate shelves is to think of each area as its own opportunity to tell a story. One section of a shelf could be stacked with books or feature a beautiful décor item, another might house a plant that cascades over the front of the shelving below. It’s a great place to play with shape, size, material, contrast and perspective to create drama and interest in vignettes.

In last year’s Block $1 million room I used shelving to fill a wall, create vignettes, add interest and include a beautiful piece of furniture. This shows you the many and varied benefits of using shelving as a design element within your home.

How to style a vignette | Style Stories

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