Tips to Style Shelves in a Nursery

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Amazon Handmade, the destination on Amazon where Makers from around the globe sell their handcrafted goods.

Rory’s nursery is one of my favorite spots in our house. It just feels so fun and magical in here. And a big part of that whimsical feeling comes from her built-in bookshelves. I’m so happy we added these because they’re full of storage and a great spot to get a little creative and show off favorite items.Tips to style shelves in a nursery

I thought it would be helpful to share my tips to style shelves in a nursery or a kid’s room. While I’ve been styling other areas of my home for years (you can read my tips here), styling Rory’s built-ins back in the spring was the first time I’ve ever tackled decorating in a kid’s room. I feel like there are a lot of simple tips that can take your shelves from “Ho-hum” to “Wow”, while keeping them functional for everyday use and showing off your child’s personality!

Tips to Style Shelves in a Nursery – VideoTips to style shelves in a nursery or kid's room

I put together this little video to show you those tips in action. Rory makes a lot of cute cameos (my sweet girl!), so definitely give it a watch.

My Favorite Parts

  • :16 Sitting on Grama’s lap always makes her happy!
  • :36 My favorite spot to sit and snuggle.
  • 1:06 So excited for alllll the photo shoots with this piece.
  • 2:18 Just imagine my mom standing behind the camera jumping up and down to get Rory to look!

Let’s dive into more detail regarding tips to style shelves in a nursery.

Start with a Clean SlateStart with a clean slate when decorating shelves

If I’m ever re-styling a space, I like to take everything off the shelves. Heck, it’s also a good time to dust because that doesn’t happen as often as it should these days #momlife. Starting with a clean slate will help you move things to different spots and give the shelves a new life. My big pile of decor for the nursery shelvesI then like to hop around from shelf to shelf putting similar objects on the shelves at the same time, instead of decorating each shelf all at once.  For example, I like to start with the books and make sure they’re sprinkled throughout and then move on to the baskets, etc.My best tips to style shelves in a nursery

It’s also important to step back every few minutes and take a look from afar. You’ll notice which areas need to be tweaked and moved around. Sometimes I even snap a photo on my phone because you can often see glaring “problems” when you look at a picture as opposed to looking in real life. This always helps me tweak them until they’re just the way I want them!

Use BooksUsing books in a nursery

For someone who can’t read yet, Rory sure does have a lot of books (and I love it so much!). For our baby shower, we had guests bring a signed book in lieu of a card. We received so many amazing titles and the best part is the sweet messages on the inside covers. I sit and read these to Rory and tell her all about her aunt or cousin who wrote such a nice note.

Finn also had a few of his books from his childhood and we incorporated them on the shelves here. For the most part, we are just reading board books to Rory right now because she likes to hold them and they’re easier for her to grab. Plus, no paper cuts! We keep some of those with her toys downstairs.Display books both horizontally and vertically on nursery shelves

Instead of hiding books away, put them on the bookshelves! I like to display ours horizontally and vertically across multiple shelves and I’ll use pretty objects as bookends – like this elephant that I found from a local antique shop.Ground a space with books

You can also “ground” smaller items with horizontal books, like the small hand painted mug I have sitting on the Curious George book above. No matter how you display them, having books on your bookshelves just makes sense!

Add in WarmthAdd warmth with wood objects

Between the toys and the books, there is a lot of color going on here. I like to add in wood pieces for warmth (and to keep a few things neutral) and I spread these across the shelves so the wood is a cohesive element throughout.Wood rainbow toy from Amazon Handmade

I bought this wood rainbow toy from Amazon Handmade and absolutely love it. Right now, it’s working as a bookend and decor piece, but once Rory is a bit older it will be a great Montessori toy for her to play with. This piece is crafted by hand from a shop in Russia. (How cool is that?!)  I love shopping from Amazon Handmade because it’s a way to support artisans and small businesses from all over the world. Plus, every piece is unique and special.

Personalize ItRory name puzzle

I added two more wood pieces from Amazon Handmade to the nursery shelves and they’re both personalized! This name puzzle says Rory and I went with Aurora for this personalized piggy bank. I can’t get over how beautiful both pieces are. I know she will have them forever!

Personalize name puzzle from Amazon HandmadeThe name puzzle looks great on a shelf, but it will be awesome when Rory can actually play with it. I think it will be a wonderful way for her to learn how to spell her name and work on her fine motor skills. The puzzle is made by a couple in Washington who makes handmade wooden toys that are durable and spark the imagination. I love that buying from them supports their family! I think I’ll be buying these puzzles as gifts when my friends have babies.

Rory with her wood puzzleNot to mention, it’s the best prop for photos!Aurora piggy bank

I knew I wanted a piggy bank for the shelves and I was so happy when I spotted this one on Amazon Handmade. It looks gorgeous on the shelves (that wood against the green…I swoon!) and will come in handy as Rory gets older and learns about saving. (We’ll make sure Daddy has that conversation as he is the finance guy in our household!)

Baskets for the Win!Use baskets to corral items on nursery shelves

Baskets are always on the list when it comes to styling shelves because they are a great way to corral a bit of clutter, keep like items together, and take up some visual space on a shelf.Use baskets for toys in a nursery

We have toy blocks in one basket and stuffed animals in another. Both work hard on these shelves!

Stuffed Animals as DecorShowcase favorite stuffed animals

Speaking of stuffed animals, it’s totally okay to display some on the shelves (but probably not all of them). We love elephants in our house (so many elephants around here!), so we have a few of Rory’s favorite stuffed elephants sitting out on the shelves. She lights up when we’re looking at the shelves and she sees them! So sweet.

Make it SpecialHandpainted plate

Pieces that tell a story are a good idea in any room of your house, but I especially love them in a nursery. I have two pieces painted by my great-grandmother up high on Rory’s shelves. These are family heirlooms and the fact that they’re in my own daughter’s room makes me tear up. I can tell Rory about the amazing women who have come before her and show her how talented and creative they were! So if you have family pieces that you’re not sure what to do with, I urge you to incorporate them into a child’s room (up high if they’re breakable!) so you can have some family history all around your little one.

Layer with FramesShowcase special pieces and art in frames

Frames are another decor piece I always recommend when it comes to styling. They add depth to shelves and help complete a look. One of my good friends painted the moon on the night Rory was born. Yes, she painted it! Holy smokes, what a special gift. It’s the most gorgeous piece and I have “Aurora’s Moon” layered on the top shelf. Best tips to style shelves in a nurseryThe shelves in Rory's room

Overall, I’m so pleased with my little refresh of Rory’s space. The new pieces are special and add some warmth and even more personality in here. tips to style shelves in a nurseryAs my little girl grows up, I know these will continue to evolve and showcase her interests and talents. But for now, I’m so pleased with this pretty spot for my sweet girl.


P.S. If you’re looking for any sources for Rory’s nursery, you can find them all listed in this blog post.

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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