DESIGN SECRETS FOR POTSHELF SUCCESS
Building on the basics of potshelf design yesterday, I thought it would be helpful to itemize factors to consider as you create your accessory groupings. I’ve re-posted the final picture from yesterday’s tutorial to help visualize some of the points below.
- Establish an overall shape for the grouping, usually roughly rectangular with the outside edges tapering down. That makes a more pleasing grouping than to have heights randomly up and down within the arrangement.
- Use lots of layering – as much as your shelf depth allows. Obviously, the taller items are at the back, but every once in awhile it might be a fun, unexpected touch to tuck in a short item behind something bigger so it just peeks out or so that you only see if fully from one vantage point. Have something break the plane of the shelf and dangle down (assuming it doesn’t interfere with cabinet doors, etc.).
- Use a unifying color sprinkled throughout the grouping. In my final look (above), I’ve got a strong rust on the left balanced with a little bit of rust on the right. I’ve got tones of gold moving throughout the grouping.
- Have a focal point. Even in shelf decor, focal points are important. The big plate in the center is a great focal point.
- Use contrasting shapes: there’s lots of round shapes in this grouping so the introduction of the square box, tall narrow finials and duck help keep the vignette interesting.
- Keep the grouping visually balanced – not matched or having the same number of items, just even in terms of how heavy each side “feels”. Remember the picture where I added the large rust vase? By itself it ”felt” uneven and incomplete compared to the right side. The addition of a couple more items completed the left side so that each side of the big plate felt similar in visual weight.
- Size matters. When working with potshelves, bigger is usually better. If the shelf is 8-10 feet or more from the floor, you’ll need large items – big pots, a screen, artwork – so that you can see everything from the floor or while sitting in the room.
- In the above picture you’ll notice the rusty/coppery color and the aqua green is on both sides of center. The big round brass piece creates the focal point (it’s a table top) but you could also use a piece of art leaning against the wall or a small screen or a piece of metal art.
- If your ledge is long – over 8 feet or so – consider breaking up the grouping. For a symmetrical look, create equally balanced (though not identical) arrangements in each corner. For something more casual, try an asymmetrical look with one side significantly more substantial than the other. When working with a long shelf, you’ll likely have to play with the arrangements more until you find the winning combination.
- Sometimes the treasure you want to use is just the wrong size. Use your accessory props to help achieve the balance you need. Or, think about your accessory in a new way – the copper planter on the right of the above grouping is too tall but the color is perfect. I laid it on it’s side and have greens spilling from it so it fits much better.
- Metals are the jewelry of an accessory grouping. They bring a little sparkle and shine to the arrangment and to the room. Try to add something reflective to your groupings to really finish them off. Below a metal leaf tray is tucked behind the other elements for a bit of sparkle amongst all the matte finishes.
You can use ledge decoration to display a collection – if you have some pieces that are good sized and won’t get lost by being up high on a shelf. In my kitchen I display my pear collection on top of the kitchen cabinets. Some of the pears are only 4″ tall or so which would be too small alone, but clustered together and anchored by a plant and art, the grouping manages to make a statement. You can see that I’ve used books generously to raise the smaller pears into more prominence. The large tray on the left is angled across the depth of the cabinet, but would benefit by having something shorter layered in front of the leaf side. Guess I need to collect another pear or two……
A very symmetrical version of ledge decorating, this arrangment makes good use of scale when decorating up high.
Not all ledge displays are created equal. I found a couple to illustrate what NOT to do….
The glaring problem with the accessories on these cabinet tops is that they’re all the same size and color. It fills the space, but would be much more interesting if there were a few more pieces taking advantage of the height available. The vases are too small and the little plant laying in the corner is too small and lonely. Start with something tall in the corner and gradually reduce the height of pieces as you move to the center of the length of cabinets on each side. The arrangement will be much shorter along the shorter run of cabinets, but will feel in proportion to the space. Conversely, start with something tall at each outside edge, tapering the arrangement as you move to the corner. Leave the corner empty. Either option will work equally well.
This ledge is a little busy for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, I love my “stuff”, but there’s a lot going on here. Items I’d address in a makeover would be to vary the height more and have something go almost all the way to the ceiling; bring family photos down to tabletops (can’t see them way up there); layer items more so it’s not such a long line of accessories. (side note: the wall art on the main wall needs a little attention too – the art should be contained above the sofa and I wouldn’t hang all those together – another post of tips I think….)
Now that you know what to do and what not to do, try your hand at finessing those potshelf ledges. If you have a ledge or shelf that’s driving you crazy and you don’t know where to begin – or where to finish – contact me and I’ll help you out.