Open to the Possibilities of Floating Shelves

How to style floating shelves that will add form, function and personality to any space in your home—starting in the kitchen
Paxton Buckingham
Photo by Steve Radcliffe

We’ve all seen fabulous floating shelving in design magazines and home décor displays, pristinely arranged with color-coordinated books and baubles. Nothing extra or out of place. The picture of well-curated minimalism.

If you love the look but don’t know where to start on styling open shelving that feels cohesive and uncluttered, local interior designer Paxton Buckingham—who notably lent his creative skills to the beachy-cool vibe of the interiors at the new COVA Brewing in Ocean View—is here to help.

Buckingham recently worked alongside Kristen Britt of Anchored Interiors on a kitchen remodel at the home of David and Heather Holt in the Larchmont-Edgewater area of Norfolk. The Holts requested floating shelves above to complement cabinetry below and wanted to open up the space as a whole to make it a center gathering point in their home.

“I knew that Heather Holt liked a fresh coastal look,” Buckingham notes. “With this in mind, I went with teals and greens as my pops of color, which complemented the navy cabinets. I also wanted some vintage pieces that matched the age of the home.”

Butcher block shelves were selected to showcase new dishes Buckingham chose from IKEA and West Elm to be displayed alongside the kitchen window to tie the space together while preserving all-important functionality in a frequently used room.

We asked Buckingham for a few tips on styling open shelving. Here are his suggestions.

Right on Hue

Keep the color palette simple. Start with mainly monochromatic styling pieces then gradually add in items with hints of color one by one.

Use It or Lose It

Make it functional. Stack dishes or glasses to give shelving a clean and organized look while keeping frequently used objects accessible.

Depth of Field

Layer your pieces. Try stacking cookbooks to varying heights or placing cutting boards behind objects to create depth and visual interest.

What’s Old Is New

Add something vintage. This is where you can incorporate special family heirlooms or great finds from your favorite local antique store.

Watch It Grow

Incorporate some green. Botanicals are a great way to finish off shelves. Low-maintenance plants like succulents and air plants are a good choice.

Still stumped? Contact Paxton Buckingham of Paxton Buckingham Design to add some shelving style to your space at 757-286-4116 or On Instagram: @paxtonbuckingham.

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