Transform that awkward nook into a statement-making focal point.
decor and plants on kitchen shelving

A corner might not seem like the most exciting area of your home, but add few shelves or cabinets and the right styling and you've instantly elevated the awkward space into something special. Not sure how to spruce up your corners? Here are a few expert tips for styling a corner cabinet or shelf—and upgrading the room (and, ultimately, your home!) in the process.

Your shelves' décor should speak to the room.

"When styling a room and decorating shelves of any kind, you always want those pieces to reflect the style [and] colors of the room they are in," says Betsy Helmuth, owner of interior design firm Affordable Interior Design. "Accessories on shelves are a great opportunity to bring in new textures that you may not have used much in the space like glass, papier mâché, [or] ceramic." In addition to matching the rest of the room, you also want each of the items on the sleeves or cabinet to have a similar color scheme. "I would pick items with similar colors so nothing is sticking out like a sore thumb," says of Betty Lang, founder and lead designer at Lang Studio Design at Studio88.

Vary height.

The items you place on your shelves should add visual interest to the room. A great way to do that? Choose items that vary in height; think short, taller, and tallest. "Items should have three different heights to get the eye flowing," says Lang. Using objects with varying heights will work for either a corner shelf or a cabinet. But if you're styling multiple corner shelves—particularly if there are shelves stacked on top of each other—it's important to keep an eye on the distance between each shelf and the top of your decorative items. "Be sure that no item is closer than two inches to the shelf above to ensure that things don't look cramped," says Helmuth.

Group objects in odd numbers.

The height of these objects matters, but so is the actual number of decorative objects involved. "When styling shelves and grouping items, arrange the pieces in odd numbers. Clusters of two or four or six items feel contrived and like they should be symmetrical," says Helmuth. "Groupings of three, five, or seven feel more organic and pleasing to the eye."

Choose one or two focal items.

You also don't want too many big or loud pieces fighting for attention in the corner of a room. Instead, let one or two focal items take center stage—the rest of the items can act more as accent or background pieces. "There should be a few larger pieces that can steal focus, but they should be dispersed throughout the shelves [or cabinet]," says Helmuth. "And they should be mixed with other items that are visually less important, like books, smaller pieces, or translucent items."

Raid your library.

Sure, you can go out and buy a bunch of décor items, but chances are, you already have everything you need. All you have to do is raid your library. "Books are a classic item to use to decorate shelves because you can stack them vertically or horizontally to create varying heights," says Helmuth. "Additionally, you can put items on top of books to showcase that accent."

Mix style and substance.

You want your corner shelf or cabinet to look good—but that doesn't mean you can't take full advantage of the space and use it to store items you actually need. "Utilitarian items can be both attractive and practical," says Helmuth. "In a kitchen, use corner shelving as an opportunity for a bar display. In an office, use a corner shelf to hold a stapler or cute jars of paper clips."

Inject some personality.

Corner shelves that go above and beyond need to look better than nice: They need to feel like you. "You want to give the space personality and having items that reflect your taste will be more meaningful than just making it 'pretty,'" says Lang. "My recommendation on styling anything in your space is to have items that make you happy when you see them. If it's a space you see every day, why not have items that put a smile on your face or spark a [happy] memory?"


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