You’ve probably heard the term “selfie,” but have you ever heard of a “shelfie”? It’s a picture of artfully styled shelves of books, collectibles or other items to post on social media. And it’s become quite the trend online, with certain platforms seeing more than 2.7 million posts using #shelfie.

You might be asking yourself how you can take a good shelfie. We’ve got tips and ideas from Dima Ahmad, owner and Creative Director of Dima Ahmad Interiors in Ontario, Canada.

Find the perfect shelves and location.

Of course, before you start picking out books and collectibles, you need good shelving. It could be a credenza — a cabinet-style piece of furniture — floating shelves or a bookshelf. All of these come in different forms and styles and can be placed in the living room, office, kitchen or even the bathroom.

Create a foundation.

Now that you’ve chosen your type of shelves and the location, it’s time to dress them up. For example, if you have a bookcase with a closed back, you can paint the back panel with a simple coat of color. “Or, if you want to add a little more oomph, add some wallpaper or even hang up an antique mirror of some sort,” says Ahmad.

Choose all your accessories.

The typical items that go on shelves are books and decorative baskets. But it’s great to think outside the traditional box. Find objects that bring depth, texture, a pop of color and visual interest and create sight lines:

  • Eye-catching art and sculptures
  • Plants
  • Fun candles
  • Vases of various sizes and shapes

Additionally, mix decorative items with more personal ones. “Very often I see these shelves that are styled but they don’t speak to a personality,” says Ahmad. “So I like to marry pieces I picked up at a home store with items that tell a story and actually fit and speak to who I am. So it doesn’t just aesthetically look good — it actually means something.”

For personal items, think of:

  • Photos
  • Postcards
  • Memorabilia from family vacations

Of course, the accessories you choose will depend on which room you’re placing the shelving unit in. For instance, if you’re using it in a kitchen, consider dishes, cookbooks, vintage lunchboxes and other kitchen-related items.

Gather all your items.

You’ve figured out your location, the shelving unit (and dressed it up) and your accessories. The next step is to grab everything you want to display and bring it to the room where the shelves are. “My advice is to lay everything out on the floor so you can see it,” says Ahmad. “This way you can organize the pieces and choose what ends up on the shelf.”

Put together your shelves.

All your accessories and items are ready to be placed on your shelves, so it’s time to start getting creative. Ahmad says the best way to do that is to throw out all the rules. For instance, the spine of a book doesn’t always have to face outward. It can be flipped the other way or even open to your favorite page with a sculpture on top of it.

  • Don’t be afraid of asymmetry
  • Lay books horizontally and vertically
  • Stack books and other items
  • Use clusters of odd numbers
  • Use books, boxes, and other items to raise smaller pieces and add layers
  • Mix heirloom pieces with modern ones
  • Hang photos and wall art on the back of a shelf versus standing it up

Don’t forget to add a pop of color with art, photos, candles, plants or books. And, most important, make sure your shelves are fully functional in addition to visually appealing. “Shelves are meant for storage, so use them for storage,” says Ahmad. “Decorative baskets can hide away things like wires and remotes to remove clutter from the room.”


Take advantage of lighting. 

Some people add lamps or other decorative lighting, such as sconces, to their shelves. “And, if you don’t want to take the time to wire it, you can actually use battery-operated lightbulbs that can be turned on by remote,” says Ahmad. Lights will help brighten your shelves and create more visual appeal.

Use the space around the shelves.

Sometimes, the area around your shelves is completely empty. Without making the area feel cluttered, use that negative space for art, photos and lighting to make your shelfie complete. “Your shelfie doesn’t just start and stop at the shelf. Think of the composition around it as well,” says Ahmad.

It's time to take your shelfie.

Your shelves look perfect and you’re so proud of your work. So obviously you have to share it on social media. How do you take that perfect shelfie? Ahmad has tips for even the most amateur photographers:

  • Check the lighting: Make sure the lighting is good. Natural light is perfect, especially at the golden hour — the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset. If you have sconces, don’t be afraid to take a moody photo. And if you have decorative lights around your shelves, make sure to capture them in your photo.
  • Straighten it out: Use the level feature on your phone to make sure the picture is straight.
  • Take a photo head on: This will allow you to get the whole composition and sight line in your picture.
  • Get in close: Do some intimate close-ups of groupings on your shelves. You want people to really see the details of your work.
  • Post: Your beautiful work should be on display, so make sure to post those pictures on social media!


Your shelves will stand out and become a conversational piece, whether it’s on social media or in person when you have guests. That’s why it’s important that you carefully curate what to display. You want items that really reveal your personality and tell a story — your story.

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