10 Expert Tips For De-Cluttering Every Shelf In Your Home

Like closets, shelves can be a harbor for accumulative flotsam and jetsam — except without a door to conceal the mess. But before you go sweeping away every knickknack, check out these 10 expert tips for cleaning up every cubby and ledge in your casa.
Who better than five amazing designers from the DreamHome showroom at the Merchandise Mart to help you put a little personality (and organization) into your pad? Learn how to conquer your fear of shelving behind the oh-so intimidating glass-cabinet doors. And those tchotchkes you've been holding on to? Don't worry — no treasure will be left behind. First stop: the shelves. Next: the world!
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Foyer: Designer Kelly Barnett
The entryway is a guest's first impression of your home, so be sure to keep it as neat and tidy as possible.
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Tip: Less Is More
"Coco Chanel famously stated that before a woman leaves the house, she should look in the mirror and remove one piece of jewelry. Let this truth stand for each room of your house. When you feel your accessorizing is complete, stand back and take in the room as an outsider might. What feels extraneous? Remove it!"
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Tip: The Rule Of Three
"To cluster random items intentionally, look for three beautiful objects of various shapes and heights and arrange it in a triangle. This naturally brings the eye from object to object and down to the table or surface that they rest upon."
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Living Room: Designer Richard Abrahamson
Whether you're entertaining or lounging, the shelves in this room should resemble a work of art while being functional.
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Tip: Highs And Lows
"Use 'highs and lows' to create dimension and visual interest. I like to arrange still lifes on shelves. Start with your favorite pieces, one per shelf. Gradually continue to add in another item using a different shape and size, such as a tall vase and a small picture frame."
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Tip: Texture And Scale
"Keep in mind texture, color, and scale of objects. Arrange objects into a grouping — a small painting leaning against the back, three unique items placed in front, for example. Don't be afraid to mix metal, wood, glass, or any other material for visual appeal."
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Study: Designer Robyn Shapiro
Nothing drains concentration faster than a messy work area.
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Tip: Divide
"Create zones within the shelves that may be punctuated by useful, decorative, and personal elements (such as art, books, or photographs). Arrange books according to size, color, and topic. Break up monotony and create rhythm by stacking some books and aligning others."
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Tip: Balance
"Create proportional balance by positioning items with attention to size, color, and character."
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Kitchen: Brandy Cohen
Whether you like it or not, everyone always ends up gathering in the kitchen. Make sure guests stay engaged in conversation — and not your messy shelves.
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Tip: Maximizing Storage In Glass Cabinets
"Most people have a fear of glass cabinets in their kitchen. There is an easy way to get maximum storage out of these cabinets while still making it look decorative and pleasing to the eye. In this kitchen, I grouped together crystal of the same size and pattern together. I kept the groups of glassware small enough to not get overwhelming or take over an entire cabinet without some visual break. In between the groups of the glassware, add something solid with visual interest to give you that visual break. This will help the glass front cabinets appear visually pleasing while not becoming overwhelming with storage."
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Tip: Clustering
"Whether you have a mantle or superflous shelving in your kitchen, the trick to keeping the space looking clean and not cluttered is to create one or two areas of interest — depending on the length and size. Create a cluster of no more than two or three items in one or two areas and leave the rest of the space alone. In this case, I clustered some tall candle pedestals along with a decorative item and a smaller pop of color from the flower."
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Dining Room: Designer Brian Snow
You wouldn't want to eat in a messy restaurant, so make sure to edit your shelves in your personal dining space, too.
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Tip: Mix It Up
"Stack books vertically on one shelf and horizontally on another shelf. Fill in empty spaces with carefully chosen objects. Use a horizontal stack of books as a bookend for a vertical stack of books."
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Tip: Relax It
"The books don’t have to be pulled all the way forward. Books that are set back an inch or so from the front of the shelves will appear to float more than books that are pulled close to the edge. Lean a few books to loosen things up a bit and not have everything so rigid."