How to Decorate Shelves without Looking Cluttered? (33 Ideas with Pictures)

Minimal decorations are a great way to decorate shelves without looking cluttered. Décor can vary based on the style of the room, design, colors, and main furniture already in the room. The options can appear endless!

Another way to decorate a shelf without looking cluttered is by keeping the décor small. Mix and match items to see what works in each room. Keep reading for more ways to decorate shelves to achieve a simple look and design.



One way to decorate a shelf is by using plants. All three succulents add some color with design to this wooden shelf. The succulents vary slightly in color but create a beautiful look on the shelf.

The one in the middle stands out since it is larger and in a solid, white pot. The outer two succulents match well since they are both smaller and are displayed in small pots that have a gray marble design.

This simple look makes a great addition in any room that needs some color added to a shelf space.

Various Plants

Various Plants

Various succulents, air plants, and house plants decorate the top of this simple wood shelf. Most of the plants are small to avoid the space looking cluttered. All the plants are green and in pots that are neutral in color to match the shelf, frame, and wallpaper in this room.

These plants are small enough to be easily rearranged when needed. The larger plant to the right can also be added by placing some of the smaller plants elsewhere in the room. Water the plants regularly and keep them near light so that they stay healthy to enjoy.



A mix of decorations can be seen on top of this shelf with small drawers. The round mirror creates the allusion of extra space in this area of the room.

The wicker basket is a great place to store books and other items when not in use. Other décor pieces can also be placed here if tall enough to be seen from the outside.

Wispy plants in a white vase add some height and color to this shelf. The wooden rhinoceros figurine is a great way to mix up the look as well as varying the type of wood seen on this shelf.

Elegant Decor

Elegant Decor

The elegant décor on these shelves match beautifully with the metal look in this space, and the gold on and around the bed. Various décor items fill up each section on this shelf without looking too crowded.

The items are small enough where there is plenty of space on and around the shelves. The gold feather in the clear gold vase adds some height and hides some of the white space from behind.

The candles can be lit to set a different mood in the evening. Another shelf can be added to take up some more space in this bedroom as well.

Small Decor

Small Decor

This minimally styled shelf piece would look great in a studio apartment or small room. Each hexagon-shaped shelf holds one or more tiny figures or plants. This is a unique way to display figurines and décor in a small space.

The decorations are sized with the shelves so that they do not look cluttered. The items can also be moved around or replaced as needed for a seasonal change or when the room is being redone.

Tiny Plants

Tiny Plants

Each of these shelves is decorated with a tiny plant so that the plants do not take up too much space in each section. Using these shelves with the plants is a great way to use up some extra wall space in a room in the house.

There is even space to add more décor on top of each shelf, or several plants near the bottom. Other décor can be added to match the colors and design in the room of choice, too.

Plants and Décor

Plants and Decor

A variety of pieces are displayed on this shelving display on a brick wall. The items are small enough to not look cluttered while on display. Small figures, a frame, and a clock are on display between several potted plants.

These items can be easily removed to place on different shelves or replaced with other items throughout the year. When replacing an item, make sure it is not too big so that the shelves look clean and tidy.

Minimal Decorations

Minimal Decorations

This single shelf is beautifully decorated with just a few items. Dried lavender can be seen peeking out of a white container. Using dried lavender is a great way to add texture, color, and a sweet smell to a room.

The boat with its blue-and-white striped sails give the room an ocean feel, along with the blue wall. Both items are large enough so that one can fit nicely in the middle of the shelf as a stand-alone piece.

Mini House Plants

Mini House Plants

Tiny house plants take up most of the space in these hexagon-shaped shelves. The green plants in the black pots stand out against the white wall. The wooden shelves seem to outline each piece on the wall itself.

The items are grouped as potted plants and empty vases on either side. They can also be mixed together to create a different look on the wall.

Black and White Decor

Black and White Decor

This simple, yet sophisticated look will go great for those who prefer décor in simple black and white. A few items are placed on each shelf to prevent a busy look on this wall space.

While there is room for more items on each shelf, they look great with the open space that emphasizes the white in this room. A little black on the candlesticks and picture frame adds a bit of variety and breaks up the white a bit.

Modern Décor

Modern Decor

This modern look is beautiful and tidy, with plenty of room to add more items on top of this piano in the living room of a home. An ink print of a bird in a simple gold frame is the centerpiece of this scene.

The modern lamp and faux flowers in a tiny vase create a tall edge between the picture. The gold clock with the white face and black marbled perfume container sit between the frame and larger pieces to match each side of the piano shelf.

White and Gold Décor

White and Gold Decor

The mainly white color scheme on the shelves and décor items create a soft look on this white wall. While most of the items are white, there are some variations to the finishes on each décor piece.

Some of the vases, candle holders, and mugs are done in a matte finish, while others have a polished look to them and look more crème than white. A little color is added with the small, golden watering can, green leaves in a crème jar, and tray holding some mugs on the lower shelf.

Office Décor

Office Decor

This office space has several shelves filled with some items to give it some personality. The wooden wall has a single floating shelf in a lighter shade of wood with just a plant and letter sign. This breaks up the space between the computer and the rest of the wall.

The black wall to the side has a self-standing shelf with a mixture of black and wood on it, as well as décor in white and other soft colors that match the rest of the room. Books, another letter, and smaller items fill up these shelves.

The floral prints are a great way to use up the wall space and go with the plant in the corner, along with other plants seen on the shelves.

Kitchen Décor

Kitchen Decor

While there are many items on these kitchen shelves, they are grouped in a way to make the wall not look so cluttered. Wooden jars filled with items sit on one shelf, while jars filled with cereal sit above them.

Clear jars are on the other side of the sink with various liquid and dry food items to use in recipes. Cans of coffee are grouped together on the top shelf. These shelves clear up space on the countertops that can be used to get meals ready.

Simple Décor

Simple Decor

This modern wooden bookshelf has several items spaced out on each plank to keep the look minimal. The various items, such as the candlesticks and “relax” give a serene feel to the space.

The white wall behind the shelves and items also creates extra space, making this area look less cluttered. Décor items can still be added to the top shelf with the candles, and the bottom shelf with the green plant without making this area look too busy.

Boho Décor

Boho Decor

The simple wooden shelves with the natural basket, purse, and other items create a boho look in this room. Browns are mixed with white and some plants for a light, natural look.

Smaller items are mixed with larger ones on the top shelf, with a single pillow decorating the bottom shelf. All of these items can be shuffled around to create different looks without adding clutter to the space.

The eucalyptus branches in the clear vase add some height and cover up some of the blank space on the wall. The pillow is large enough to be used as a stand-alone piece at the bottom.

Living Room Décor

Living Room Decor

These built-in shelves have plenty of room for décor. While the shelves take up most of the space on the wall, the look remains neat and tidy with the selection and placement of the vases, baskets, and other décor in each section.

Smaller items are placed in the small sections. The large décor pieces fit beautifully in the large section where the television normally goes.

The larger items in the smaller spaces, such as the wicker baskets, are the only pieces located in these sections due to their size. This also keeps the space from looking too busy.

These décor pieces also match well with the rest of the design and look in this living room.

Kitchen Niche Décor

Kitchen Niche Decor

This built-in niche in the kitchen is the perfect place for extra items that won’t fit in cabinets and other spaces. A mix of small décor and kitchen items are placed on these shelves neatly.

Just a few items are on display to keep the look from appearing cluttered. Small bowls, pots with plants, oils, and spices can be seen on all the shelves. There is room for more items in each section, but these shelves might become too busy with other items added to them.

Tiny Décor

Tiny Decor

This miniature wire and wooden shelf is filled with decorations sized to fit in such a small space. Small gemstones and shells are placed neatly in each section. Other décor items in similar sizes are placed around the shelves.

Adding larger items to these spaces would look too cluttered for the shelves, but the gems, shells, and other items fit well here. Make sure items on display on shelves are not too big for the space, such as these.

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Decorations

These wooden storage boxes are filled with Christmas decorations. Only one or a few items fit in each box. While the items in the boxes are large, fitting only one or a few more keep these shelves from looking too busy.

Have the letters on the middle row, with decorations above and below, is a great look for the holidays. Other items can be placed on the top level, or on the floor on either side as well.

These shelves and decorations would make a nice display in the entryway of a home for family and guests to enjoy as they walk in.

Bathroom Décor

Bathroom Decor

The small, wooden shelves suspended from the ceiling have just enough room for a few bathroom items and decorations. Other items are spaced around the sink to keep the area from looking cluttered.

Small plants and large ones are mixed together on and around the shelves. Other towels can be stacked on the blue one, but this might disrupt the simple look of the shelf space.

Having the same set of shelves on the other side of the mirror would create some balance and be a great way to use some of the wall space on the other side.

Living Room Shelves

Living Room Shelves

Built-in shelves is a great way to use up the wall space on either side of the fireplace in this living room. A mixture of books and décor can be seen on both sides, with plenty of space for more items as needed.

Books only take up half the space on most of the shelves, with décor on the other side or décor used as bookends. A few vases are used at the top as décor.

Using up only half the space on each shelf keeps the walls from looking too busy. Décor items can also be swapped out during seasonal times as well.

Bookcase Shelf

Bookcase Shelf

This old wooden bookcase is being used as a display for plants on a porch. Each plant is placed on a specific spot on each level of the stair bookcase.

While there are no plants near the middle levels, the hanging planter makes up for this. The plants are also spaced out to remove any cluttered look.

While the pots vary in shape and size, they are all in the same color and made of the same material for a uniform look. The plants are all around the same size, creating a beautiful “living” shelf to enjoy while outside.

White Shelves

White Shelves

These white shelves are neatly adorned with storage baskets, festive décor, and other items in a child’s room. The holiday decoration items are small enough to remove any cluttered looks from the space.

Soft browns and white give the appearance of more space. The items vary in size and shape but stay uniformed with the color of light brown.

There is plenty of room on the top shelf for more items, as long as they don’t make the space look too busy. The items on the top shelf can also be spaced out like the décor items just below.

Small Wooden Shelf

Small Wooden Shelf

The wooden shelf off to the side is a great place to showcase some décor items in this boho-style living room. Several items are placed on each level of the shelf, but small enough to not use all of the space.

The long branch in the tan pot is a great way to cover up some blank space on the wall. Each of the decorations are different but come together in size and color. They also match the rest of the room.

Plants on Circular Shelf

Plants on Circular Shelf

This circular-shaped shelf is a great way to fill up some space on a large wall. Small plants are on display and add some color to the area. The shelf is simply made with metal and wooden slabs to set various items on.

A tiny terrarium with plants sits on the right. Another small plant sits on the top left but hangs down to fill up the space just below it. Another plant can also be added to the lower shelf to use up the space as well.

Triangle Shelves

Triangle Shelves

A variety of items are used to fill up all the shelves in this young person’s bedroom. Books, plants, pillows, and other decorations take up most of the space on these shelves.

Some of the items are grouped together, while others are mixed. This allows the space to not look so busy.

The books are placed neatly on one shelf, while plants and other décor stand on a different shelf. Another way to keep the space from not looking so busy is to place all three shelf units in various areas of the room.

Shelves with Plants

Shelves with Plants

This huge shelving unit takes up most of the wall space on one side of the room. The shelves are made of metal, with thick wooden boards used to separate each level.

Some plants and décor are placed on all the shelves to create a tidy space. While each plant takes up most of the space they are in while spilling down the shelves, other décor items are small enough to fit a few in each section.

The small décor pieces leave plenty of space to appear uncluttered with the plants.

Small Metal Shelf

Small Metal Shelf

This small metal shelf fits beautifully with the teal and green in this room. The shelves are filled with small items that fit well on each level.

The shelf matches well with the gold table and vase that the house plant on the other side of the chair sits in. It also matches with the golden pots behind the chair.

Some of the décor on the shelf matches in similar colors as well. Some of these items can be placed on the shelf behind the chair to use up more of the space here.

Single Shelf

Single Shelf

This single shelf is filled with just a few items that vary in looks and size. The tall plant is on the right is quite different than the small, white clock on the left side of the shelf.

The small air plant adds interest lines and texture to the look of this space. The tall plant in the ceramic pot creates height with its long stems, covering up some space on the blank wall behind it.

The figure and clock are small on the left, which leaves room for the framed picture above them.

Black Shelf

Black Shelf

Black adds a dramatic look to any space in the home. This black metal shelf fits perfectly with the rest of the décor and furniture in this home office.

The plants on the shelf are not black, but a dark enough green to blend in with the rest of the room. They are spaced neatly apart to keep from looking cluttered.

The books, plants, and other items on the shelves are small enough to move around to change the look when needed.

Metal Bookcase

Metal Bookcase

The large metal bookcase fits well with the rest of the furniture in this modern living room. Various décor in different sizes, colors, and styles fill up each section of the bookcase.

Most of the items are small enough to keep the shelves from looking too busy with items. It is a great idea to group smaller items together. Some of the larger baskets and boxes look great as the only item on the shelf.

The plants on the top shelf are large but create great height and are a good way to cover up the white wall just behind them.

Modern Shelves

Modern Shelves

These modern shelves look great in a mix of wood and metal, with plenty of décor to keep the area interesting to look at. Various items are used to display on each level of the shelf.

There is also plenty of space between each item to prevent the space from looking cluttered. Books, candles, plants, pictures, and other items are popular choices for decorating shelves.