An amateur's guide to decorating shelves

So, remember my living room shelves? Here:
Seen from the get-go of walking into our house, these have become a little stale. And square. And blugh. I wanted to freshen things up, but I wanted to do it for $0. Possible? Maybe...
Step 1: Gather up random stuff from storage bins and around the house. As I wandered around, I was scoping out things that were light in color, varied shapes & sizes, texturally diverse, and/or easily modifiable.

(Yes, that is a GPS Tom-Tom box you see above. What can I say, a zero-budget forces me to get creative. Perhaps uncomfortably so...)
Find out more after the break...
Step 2: Empty shelves. Removing the 1/4" of dust build-up is highly recommended, though not mandatory.

Step 3: Spray paint some of your off-colored items. (Not shown.) Metallic spray paint is king. Just sayin'.
Step 4: Throw stuff up on the shelves. Follow your gut. It can be moved.
As for my placement choices, my thought process went something like this:
- I need some height, so bird cage goes on top.
- I like the wrought iron "S" even though it's dark. Dang. I'll just try it on top, out of the way, for now.
- I don't know WHAT to do with the glass-orb-o'-raffia. But I like it. Put it up there so I don't forget about it visually.
- Hmm. Grab some books. Elevate some stuff. Wait, more books? Fewer? Gah, I dunno.
- Let's put a rounded object on each shelf, but vertically spread out.
- I feel like the map needs to be higher.
- That gold tower attracts too much attention.
- There's that whole lower quadrant that needs something. What do I have still in my pile on the floor... Oh yeah, those signs that I never really liked. Spray paint those bad boys so they'll work.
- Oooh, and what if I hung up the bird?!?! That would be whimsical and unexpected.
Eventually, I came to something like this:

Here's how I changed up and repurposed some of my original artifacts:

These plastic snack cups, hot glued together and spray painted gold, would become the golden tower of love:

This GPS box, wrapped up like a present, became the map element that I love:

Step 5: Modify, modify, modify. Then stand back and modify some more. And take some photos and upload them to your blog and decide to change even more stuff tomorrow.
The "S" was too stark, so I added some greenery. Hello, that plant is waaaaaay too crazy for this space. I actually undid a wire hanger and made a big loop to elevate and wrap some of the vines around (remember how long they were before? I didn't want them all over the "white space" of the shelves.), but it looks like a huge green 60's beehive 'do. Buuut I like the idea of a little greenery, so this will have to do until I figure something else out. Also, these photos make me realize the map is up too high; I think I'll take out one of the books.

I really super duper love the hanging bird. And the greek key fabric (leftover from this project) in the embroidery hoop. A simple yet (to me) interesting little vignette.

I'm also surprised by how much I like the raffia ball up on top where I had originally put it (well, I squeezed everything closer together to make room for Giganto-Plant Man). It tempers the wrought iron "S" and gels with the distressed bird cage. Also, do you like that fake bird in the cage? My 8-year-old son found it on the ground on his way home from school one day and was so excited to give it to me because he "knew that was mom's kinda pet." Haha! Sweet kid.
Also: notice the wicker picnic plate holder? I spray painted the center ivory and the outside gold, then lightly merged them together for a circular ombre look. It's subtle, but I like the dimension it adds.

Yeah, that plant is ridonculous. But, overall, I like the ebb and flow of these shelves better than what they were initially. They're softer, yet more interesting.

Anyone have any tips for doing shelves? It's fun...but harder than it looks! At least for me. I'll definitely be tweaking these over the next few days/weeks as I live with them (isn't that always how it is?), but for now, we can check this one off the to-do list. Yee-haw.
p.s. Metallic spray paint makes the world go round. Can someone please turn that sentiment into a hit song? Because it would be my theme song.
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  1. You probably wouldn't say that if you tasted my cooking experiments... but thanks.


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