Shannon Gidney, IBB Designer

Etagere Styling 101

Shannon Gidney, IBB DesignerEtageres became popular in France in the late 18th century, and we still cherish them today for their beauty.

They offer a nice backdrop for displaying meaningful items, treasures collected in our travels, and a host of other accessories.
Styling one can be intimidating for sure!

I like to start with my larger objects and then work everything around those, while paying attention to negative or blank areas. It is important to give the eye a place to rest. Generally, the bulkiest items rest near the bottom shelves to achieve a nice balance.

Layering in artwork is always a home run. This is a great way to add interest and color. It also helps to create layers within the shelves. Framed photographs fall into this same category, which help to personalize the space and evoke memories.


Books are a must, too. I love arranging them in non-traditional ways, even turning the pages to face outward instead of spines showing, especially if the spines don’t complement my chosen color palette. I do feel it’s important to pay special attention to their colors, ensuring they flow with the room. Layering stacks of books and arranging them vertically and horizontally keeps things interesting, too. I like to use unexpected items as bookends to help organize them.

Lastly, a little bit of repetition goes a long way in styling your etagere. Try to group smaller, like items so that it doesn’t read as clutter. Boxes are very helpful in adding height as well as hidden storage. Unique bowls or vessels can aid in displaying those smaller type items as well.