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Designing Open Shelves: Houseplant Edition

Designing Open Shelves: Houseplant Edition

Designing a room that feels both homey and dynamic is no small feat. But creating a comfortable space with an eye-catching element is often as simple as incorporating open shelving with plants! An open shelf design keeps your room feeling spacious, while creating an effective focal point. 

Unfortunately, because open shelving is often styled with a collection of loose items, it's easy for our design to quickly feel cluttered and untethered. Knowing how your pieces can best interact with one another will take your shelf design to the next level. This balance is achieved by following a fey key principles.

Group Strategically

Each shelf, depending on the size, should contain 3-5 "sections". Each section is separated by a few inches of space. In most cases, a single item will be able to fill one section. Things like a plant, a stack of books, or a large vase can usually stand on their own, but what about smaller or thinner items? This is why we should utilize strategic grouping. If a particular item is not large enough to stand on its own, you can group it with two other items of varying heights.  Those items should be staggered, with the tallest item in the back, and the shortest item in the back. Incorporating a few groupings will help anchor your smaller items and creative additional contrast in your overall open shelf design. 

Take Shelf Space with Trailing Plants

Plants not only offer a unique texture, but they help take up space on your shelf without feeling cluttered. This is why putting a plant on your shelf is especially helpful. We recommend using trailing plants in particular, like a Pothos or String of Hearts as they can span great spaces in a causal and airy fashion, creating a whimsical, yet controlled shelf design.

Triangulate Your Repeating Elements

Consistency is one of the most important aspects when working with a large quantity of items. Repeating certain elements (such as colors or textures) helps the space feel more cohesive. However, it is equally important to ensure that these elements feel balanced throughout your space. This is where the concept of triangulation comes into play. For each repeated element, you should have have at least three items. These three items should then be placed in various locations, creating the three points of a scalene triangle. 

Create Height & Weight Balance

Are you noticing a theme here? Balance is the most important principle when it comes to open shelving and one of the most visual forms of imbalance is in the height and weight of your objects. At each phase, be sure to step back and bring your entire shelving unit into view. Does it feel like one side is heavier than the other? Imagine that your shelves are balancing on a block placed in the center, does your design excessively lean one way or the other? Rearrange your pieces if necessary until your display feels generally balanced on both sides, and throughout the middle. 

With these principles in hand, you're well on your way to creating a stunning open shelving design with your houseplants! To help you get started, browse our trailing plants today!

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