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styling floating shelves

Philadelphia-based stylist Kristi Hunter knows a thing or two about curating a storage-focused, Instagram-worthy floating shelf. Whether you are a DIY novice, display guru, or just in need of a straight-foward place to store household items, she has you covered. We recently spoke with Hunter on her best tips to style a floating shelf with ease. 

Figure Out Functionality

Is your floating shelf geared toward functionality or more for display? For example, are you adding floating shelves to your kitchen to store flatware, pots, pans, and cooking necessities that will need to be easily accessible? While this isn’t the most enjoyable part of creating a beautiful space, it’s the most important thing to consider. For a utilitarian setup, place items, like your favorite pan, within arm’s reach, while your grandmother’s China is better left for higher shelves. 

Let Color Be Your Guide

At the end of the day, styling shelves is a matter of “playing until it feels right,” Hunter says. “There isn’t an exacts science, a wrong way or a right way.” Establish a color palette and pop in items where they fit best.

BOXI by Semihandmade's Walnut Floating Shelves are the perfect storage vehicle.

Focus on Composition and Balance

If your floating shelf will be used for an art display, BOXI by Semihandmade’s DIY Slab Floating Shelves fit the bill. “Start with larger decorative items and work largest to smallest, layering so there’s dimension, as well as enough negative space for the eye to wander,” she says. 

Let Nature In

Plants are always a good idea and go with a range of decor. For a plant-focused shelf, go with BOXI by Semihandmade’s Maple Floating Shelves,“and start with larger plants, which often fit better on lower shelves, then bring in hanging plants,” says the stylist. Give any draping plants room to breathe, and be sure to tuck in smaller plants, like succulents. 

Phography by Jason Varney; Styled by Kristi Hunter

Live With Empty Space

Hunter loves getting props from flea markets, antique shops, and local artisans yet cautions those excited to style their own shelves to take their time. “Learn to live with negative space and build as you find things that you are drawn to and make your heart sing,” she adds. 


We are no strangers to DIY home renovations at Semihandmade. After all, that’s where the idea for making doors for IKEA kitchen systems came from. So naturally, we had to dedicate an entire section of SemiStories to celebrating our design community’s ingenuity, from DIY kitchen ideas to thinking of smaller details like rattan glassware and easy-to-make wall hangings. Don’t just take it from us: we’ve tapped the best in the business. Anita Yokota shared her best trick for a $20 bathroom renovation, Jessica D’Itri Marés shared her favorite spray painter, and Jenna LeBlanc showed us how to give wall-to-wall storage a custom touch. Maybe you’re just dipping your toes in the world of do-it-yourself, in which case we recommend starting small: try your hand at making your own speckled candle holders, for example, or give your greenery an updated home with pretty stacked planters. If you have a handy side (maybe you’ve put together DIY kitchen cabinets or are not afraid to use a power tool), we have projects for you too: painting a hand-painted mural is a fun way to give your favorite room some life or maybe you’re game to try putting together your own TV cabinet like Sarah Sherman Samuel did (PS: she saved thousands in the process). Experts, we’ve got you covered too: from learning to tile and grout your own backsplash to painting your cabinets without a hitch, we have plenty of DIY kitchen renovation ideas to keep you busy. We don’t stop at the kitchen either: from wall-to-wall media centers to fluted doors made for playroom storage, you’ll find ideas to improve every room in the house