I don’t know if you’ve heard, but 2021 is the year of the shelfie—Pinterest said so! It’s time for gallery walls (as much as we love them) to move aside in favour of the humble decorative-but-functional shelving unit when it comes to serving as the focal point of a room.
Whether you like freestanding shelves, floating shelves, or towering touch-the-ceiling shelves, here are the 10 must-haves you’ll need to make your shelfies sing this year.

(And once you’ve got your shelving staples, you can read my post all about how to style them for maximum impact!)

Coloured Glassware

One of the rising trends in interior décor, coloured glassware is an awesome way to add depth and interest to your shelves. Look for vintage pieces with quirky designs—I personally love cut glass tumblers and handblown vases but searching for vintage and retro designs can be time-consuming.

If you’re shopping new, look for pieces that will stand the test of time and don’t be afraid to go bold with colour and design. Just make sure you put any glassware on the higher shelves if you have children or pets!

Statement Tableware

Tableware no longer needs to stay on the table in 2021. Instead, invest in bold, large pieces that can be hung on the wall behind your shelving unit, propped on display stands or simply stacked to add texture to your shelfies. Think—serving plates, bowls, and even mugs.

Clay pieces are especially popular right now but I’m personally partial to hand-painted Mexican homewares with bright colours and intricate designs.

And remember, these don’t even have to be purely decorative items. It always makes more sense to choose and display things you can actually use in your day-to-day life. 

Lush Plants

There are few better ways to introduce vibrancy and dynamism into your home than plants and displaying them on shelves is a great way to add depth—after all, there’s nothing more boring than just a basic bookshelf.

Place them on floating shelves, let their leaves hang down for a laidback look, or invest in a dedicated plant shelving unit for all your favourite chlorophyll-fueled children.

Bold Art

Shelves can sometimes suffer from dead space—a.k.a. the empty gaps above books or other decorative items that just looks, well…boring. Make the most of that space by picking up some fun art prints or original pieces to serve as your shelving backdrops. Or, straight-up focal pieces.

I really like to look for art that shares a similar colour scheme to the rest of my room but there really aren’t any hard-and-fast rules!

Books, Books, and More Books

Books are a shelf staple and look fantastic when displayed and arranged properly. Although ‘fake aesthetic’ book stacks are all over Etsy right now, I recommend buying books you actually enjoy and read rather than just ones you think look cute. Of course, cuteness and functionality can always be combined!

It’s always good to go for a mix of hardback and paperbacks and play around with the most pleasing ways to arrange them—library-style or piled on top of one another? Bookends are also fun to test out and work into the look too.  

Copper Details

As well as tableware and vintage glass, copper kitchen items are really popular at the moment. Not only do copper cups keep your drinks super cold—perfect for that first-thing-in-the-morning iced coffee—they also look sleek on your shelves. Plus, if they accidentally get knocked off, you’ll only have dents not breaks to deal with.

I recommend stacking them carefully atop one another to add vertical height to tall shelving units.

Statement Textiles

Blankets aren’t just for baskets and bedspreads. You can also display them artfully on your shelving units too. What’s the point in buying a beautiful blanket and then just shoving it in a box, anyway?

All you need to do is fold it to the right size so that there’s no overhang and voila, your blankets will make your next shelfie look fantastic.

Fresh Flowers

Houseplants look great on shelves, but you know what else does? Fresh cut flower arrangements. Often overlooked as part of interior décor, flowers smell great and add such colour and joy to any room. And you don’t have to splash out on over-the-top displays either—simple wildflower posies look beautiful, as do basic daffodils and daisies. Just make sure that if you have pets in your home, the flowers you choose aren’t toxic. (Cat parents: steer clear of lilies, as they’re super toxic to kitties.)

Crystals and Geodes

Crystals and geodes aren’t for everyone, but the subtle shimmer and huge variety of shapes and sizes available (if you know where to look!) make them the perfect shelf-styling item. Look for beautifully cut and shaped options that can stand up on their own, choosing the colours that best match your interior décor.

If you’re into crystals as a spiritual item more than just a decorative piece, you can also look into the healing properties of each type and buy the one that’s right for you. (Psst! I love black obsidian, a volcanic stone with negativity-repelling properties.)

Personal Items

Add some personality to your shelfies in the form of propped-up Polaroids, shells you collected from that beach on your last holiday, or even just postcards you’ve received from friends.

Remember that the perfect shelfie is one with a personal touch and it doesn’t have to be super sleek and polished to look good. In fact, sometimes that lived-in look is preferable.

What else would you put on your shelves? I hope this post has inspired you to play around with your shelfies!