Living Room Shelf Styling Tweak

by | Jan 25, 2021 | All Things Home, Decorating, Living Room, My House | 32 comments

I have to confess that I’ve been feeling a little itchy to rearrange!  I used to move furniture like it was a sport, but I’ve settled down in recent years.  It has a lot to do with the fact that I’m not buying and selling antiques currently, so I don’t have a steady stream of cool stuff, tempting me to continuously shuffle things around in my home to try out the latest find that I want to keep.  I think it can also be attributed to the fact that my interests and creative pursuits have expanded.  I am choosing to spend time at the easel or take an art class or learn to knit over repeatedly rearranging furniture and accessories.  I am a little more content to keep things as they are instead of always trying something different.  So, instead of causing complete upheaval in the living room, I made a few minor tweaks to the shelf styling on the built-ins.

shelf styling in the living room | ironstone | blue and white | miss mustard seed

It doesn’t look dramatically different, but I just gave things a little fluff and a nudge.  I tightened up the shelf styling a bit and reworked things after removing the bits of Christmas I added to the space.  I used mostly the same elements and kept the styling “moments” that I liked, but I added, moved, and edited a few things.

shelf styling in the living room | ironstone | blue and white | miss mustard seed

One thing I added was more books.  I love using books when styling a shelf.  They are an easy way to add height, color, and texture and, of course, they are fitting on a bookshelf!

shelf styling in the living room | transferware | blue and white | miss mustard seed

I got some beautiful 1700’s French leather books (from THIS ETSY SHOP) last summer and tucked them on a few shelves.  The leather adds a nice touch of warmth to the blue and white palette.

shelf styling in the living room | antique books 1700's France | miss mustard seed

As do the antique wooden croquet balls.

shelf styling in the living room | ironstone | blue and white | miss mustard seed

When styling this shelf, I also moved around some of the blue and white transfer pieces to spread the color evenly over the entire arrangement.

shelf styling in the living room | ironstone | blue and white | miss mustard seed

One thing I love about styling is there really isn’t a right or wrong way to do it.  There are “rules” and guidelines, but they are broken all of the time with great results.  It really comes down to what looks good to your eye.  I played and fiddled a little bit until it looked good to my eye.

shelf styling in the living room | ironstone | blue and white | miss mustard seed

Another great thing about styling a shelf it doesn’t come with a long-term commitment.  You can keep it that way for as long as you want and, when you’re ready to change it, you just change it!  That means there is the freedom to try new things anytime you get the itch.

shelf styling in the living room | ironstone | blue and white | miss mustard seed

So, even though I felt a pull to scoot around furniture, that’s not really what this room needed.  It just needed a little nudge.

shelf styling in the living room | ironstone | blue and white | miss mustard seed

If you’d like more tips on styling, you can find them HERE in a styling series I wrote a few years ago.


  1. celestial

    With your love of blue and white, have you ever considered a Chinoiserie lamp or vase? I think they might look lovely with your transferware. I know they can be pricey but they do come in a variety of sizes and prices.

  2. Deedra

    Looks perfect!! I love the way the ironstone and blue and white transfer ware look together.

  3. CarlaS

    I love the way you style your shelves! I recently picked up an antique handled cutlery tray and thought I should try something unconventional. However, it would be a great excuse to buy more civil war era bone handled/pewter knives and forks. Almost bought a large wooden box full of the walnut handled cutlery. Unfortunately, they didn’t have pewter inlay. Neat story though, they were used at the family reunions over 100 years ago.

  4. Teddee Grace

    You fiddled well! Looks great. I’m envying your three leather-bound books. Doesn’t appear there are any more of those on that site at this time, though.

  5. Donna

    Transfer ware is so timeless & I consider it art. It adds the right amount of color to china. I switch up my shelves.too, usually late at night when others are in bed. At least it is a vice that causes no problems, like sometimes when family members wonder why a piece of furniture has a new home.

  6. Laura

    It looks AMAZING!!!!!! I love everything about it!!!

  7. Deborah Raney

    This is my favorite way you’ve had it since you moved. Love the blue more scattered and especially love that there are more books.

  8. Bea

    I also like the way you’ve evened out the blue color of your pieces on your shelf. It looks lovely!

  9. Sandi

    Blue and white , can’t display anything better …makes me joyful!

  10. Miche Ortega

    Stellar, as always!

  11. Jane

    Books on a bookshelf….who’d a thunk it! 😉
    Looks beautiful!

  12. Julie

    I love those wooden croquet balls! I’ll have to try mine stacked in bowls! Love your style!❤️

  13. Mary S

    LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!! I have the ironstone and a little blue but LOTS of Red Transferware and I’d so like to transition to the blue. What do you suggest? Most of my collection is antique. Never will get what I paid for them I’m sure.

    And the little lamp next to the chair. Where might I find one similar?

    Thanks so much! You inspire me!!

  14. Kate

    I love the color and proportion of your restyled shelf. The only nit I have to pick is that the slanted books sets off some OCD in me. I’m afraid if I came to visit, I would try to unobtrusively set them upright.

  15. anne

    It looks stellar Marian, nothing quite like the soft vintage blues and whites! 😉

  16. MaryLisa

    Looks great and the books really add interest. I am missing my flea market finds and hope that opens up as we move towards summer.

  17. LuAnn

    Beautiful, Marian!

  18. Eliz

    I do like the addition of more books. Looks lovely!

  19. KathieB

    I love it! I love the blend of textures and colours. I have been tweaking this week too. Your comment about the styling not being a ‘long term commitment’ was timely for the perfectionist in me. I get comfort from that thinking. Thank you Marian.

  20. shirley wells

    I have a lot of blue/white transfer ware and white ironstone but my living room is dark wood and masculine. I do have a wall of bookcases. Would this look work with cherry wood paneling, hardwood floors and brown leather furniture? I do what off white drapes.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, definitely! I think the blue and white could play nicely against the warm woods and leather tones.

  21. Jenelle

    It looks beautiful! I am always inspired by your decor and often find myself getting lost in all the pictures of your beautiful home.


    Marian, I love how you have placed your antique books with your gorgeous blue and white dishes! Just perfect!

  23. Amy

    Nice fiddling Marian! I especially like the way the leather-bound books and wood croquet balls ground the bookcase and plays up the blue and white color scheme. Beautiful. And I can’t wait for your new book! I’m so happy and excited for you! You’re awesome Marian!!

  24. Marie

    I’m curious, are you left handed? I notice the pitcher handles are situated for grabbing with the left hand.

    • Marian Parsons

      I do most things with my right hand, but I play some sports left-handed! I tend to put handles to the left, though!

  25. Debra N.

    Sometimes a small tweak is very satisfying and maybe something only the person doing the tweaking would notice. I used to have a booth at a vintage/antique store and one of the perks of having it was that I could add the things from our house that I wanted to cycle out when I found a treasure that I wanted to keep ( at least for a time ) but there are seasons to our lives and even though at times I still miss the creativity that I felt in having a booth, I don’t miss the part that took lots of time and work. It sounds like you are enjoying the season that you are in now. Thank you for sharing.

  26. jeanine pickard

    I love blue and white this time of the year! I have added my pieces into the living room decor!

  27. Karen Keller-Eyer

    PERFECTION ! Such great balance of color, shape and texture !

  28. Margie

    Gosh! You have the most amazing eye! I’m admiring the white crocheted throw. It’s gorge3ous! Did you make it?

  29. Cynde

    Your ironstone and transfer ware is a win win, your styling is beautiful. Your home is so warm and welcoming. I read a blog just the other day about collections being clutter. Collections, I believe are what makes a house a home and gives it personality. This bloggers home is so cookie cutter and could really use some personality…I look forward to every post, you are so inspiring!!!!!! Cynde

  30. Terry

    I’m in for the no spending /organizing February 2021.
    Perfect timing coming across your page today.



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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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