Master the  art with the help of decorating expert Phoebe Howard.

Laurey W. Glenn

It's no secret open shelves are on the rise—from kitchen storage to living room built-ins to night stands and side tables. The art of styling (and capturing!) the perfect open shelf arrangement has become so popular there are even hashtags dedicated to it. Click into #shelfie, #shelfdecor, or #shelfstyling on Instagram for a personal peek into others' meticulous attempts at the perfect-but-not-too-perfect arrangement of personal items around the house.

It makes sense. For one, open shelves are a great way to bring color, personality, and life into a room. It gives you a way to organize small decorative items and let books shine, even when not in use. But more than that, open shelving is a blank canvas for careful and curated arrangements that give visitors an insight into you and your family—where you’ve been, what you love, what you read (or pretend to, we’re not judging!). It’s the perfect way to show off family treasures, memorabilia, and long-gathered collections. That's all to say, open shelves are reflections of our personalities and families. Phoebe Howard’s tips to make sure yours is a good one:

1. Combine books and objects. Books can be neatly arranged horizontally or vertically. Top stacks with small objects, and then throw in larger items, such as vases, for variety.

2. Keep shelves relatable. Take cues from the room's palette to connect your display to the overall space. Try painting the backs of shelves with an accent color, and always select objects that color coordinate.

WATCH: Tips for an Organized Kitchen

3. Express your personality. Phoebe says, "Shelves are a living decoration. Fill them with books that you want to look at again and again and items that reflect your interests."

4. Edit, edit, edit! Every so often, strip shelves down and start over. "Keep only the items you love," she says, "and give objects plenty of breathing room."

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