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The art of
shelf curation

To gain an understanding of shelf curation and how to do it properly, look no further!

Shelf curation - creating an installation out of your favourite objects.

Curate: verb (used with object), cu·rat·ed, cu·rat·ing. to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation or a collection.

The art of shelf curation is seemingly simple, but all too often people select too much and the clutter outweighs the object. To gain an understanding of shelf curation and how to do it properly, look no further!

Tip One: Think about the mood.

What are you going for? Do you already have objects or books in mind that fit the bill? Curation of a shelf at home is going to be very different from a hotel or pub/restaurant. Will it be personal travel artifacts, coffee table books you’ve never read, or hefty tomes to provide a sense of the person you’d like to be? Whether it’s your fave collection of Enid Blytons or the flamenco doll you got on holiday in 1985, make sure you’re happy with how they fit with the overall look and feel you’re aiming for.

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Tip Two: Making sense of the space.


A shelf will only hold so much; unless you want to organise a multitude of book spines by colour and size, leaving space between objects can only be a good thing. Too much and it’s going to look like clutter; too little and it’ll look sparse and uninviting. Choose the main things you most want to display, and start with that. You may find that they’re enough! How many shelves are there to do? What ratio of books to objects do you feel is right? Remember, not only is the memory of the object or simply how pretty it looks is a stake – too much of a good thing is not a good thing at all.

Tip Three: How to arrange.

Here is where you’ll be using your creative skills…yes, those skills you think you don’t have! But you do, I promise! Again, less is more. The key here is to create shelves are that are well balanced, so as not to overwhelm. Try to focus on pulling the eye through the continuous space, so that one can see and enjoy the interspersed artwork with the space surrounding as a balance. Use objects in groups of three or other odd numbers; try stacking three books on their sides and popping a squat object like a small box or ornament on top.

Make sure you have a good variety of heights, tones and textures. You need a healthy balance between vases, objects, books and plants. Play around with things, and always, always step back to look at the whole.

So there you have it! All you have to do is make your choices, and if you’re stuck, you can always give us a call here at Art Loves – shelf curation is a passion of Genna’s and we’d love to help if we can!

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