To accessorize shelves, start with the overall size and scale of the shelf. Evaluate if it is a large space or small space because each will require a different thought process.

In this example, the height between shelves is smaller than the width. Here I recommend starting with laying out the accessories you want to use first on the floor. Sort them by color, shape and size. Next, start to group items of contrasting shape and color together.

Second, use artistic books as fillers and backdrop. In this example, I like to use as the books as stands and ways to frame the accessories on either side.

Finally, place the most decorative or odd-shaped pieces as stand-alone features or set on top of a stacks of books.

Jeanine Sipple Dougherty, NCIDQ, is a local interior designer. Contact her at

Clockwise from top:

Unglazed pot by Lucas Tisland, $65,

Wooden tray, $30, 

Various succulents, $10-$20,

Decorative books, $30-$40, 

Accent pieces, $10.95-$99.95,

Mugs, $21.95,

Stool, $30,

Red kids’ boots, $50,

Woven container with lid, $6,