Me, my shelf, and I

With interiors expert Geraldine James

Words: Charlotte Core

Since we’re all (unwittingly!) showing off our home décor more than usual via Zoom and Hangout calls, there’s no better time than now to give our shelves a bit of a spruce-up. For quick-win tips on how we can liven up our living rooms – and put our own personalities on display in the process – we turned to interiors expert Geraldine James. Then, the Selfridges team got to work creating our own brilliant #shelfies (if we do say so ourselves)…

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Geraldine James’ 5 tips to nailing that #shelfie

1. Start with a story
It’s always wise to have a theme or a story in mind – be it nature, collectables, or nostalgic memorabilia.

2. Play with perception
Make sure you have a selection of objects that vary in height – otherwise the display will look too uniform.

3. Pick ‘n’ mix
Mix up your textures, such as wood with glass, or paper with handmade pottery. This approach always draws the eye as it looks so tactile. If you want to put up shelves, consider using recycled or reclaimed wood, which gives a lovely texture and a bit of individuality.

4. Stay off-centre
This is so important: start with your largest item and place it off-centre, arranging the other objects around it. Trust me, this works!

5. Get creative with colour
[With shelves], colour can be added to your home without taking the plunge and painting a wall! I’ve been collecting green objects for displaying in my otherwise monochrome kitchen and they really add interest.

#shelfie by Geraldine James, published by CICO Books. Photography ? CICO Books

How do you decide what the focus of a shelf should be?
I’m always guided by the room the shelf is in. Keep the look and feel the same as the overall décor [of the space], whether that’s monochrome or natural.

What advice would you give to someone who has a lot of clutter?
Take everything off the shelf, thoroughly clean it – as well as all the objects – and make a decision on what you want the story to be. Separate all of your things into groups, and it’ll become apparent what works. Be ruthless with what doesn’t – if you like it, store it away for later. If not, donate to the local charity shop.


If you have regular video meetings with the same people, it’s so fun to change the background slightly, or add something new each time!

– Geraldine James

#shelfie by Geraldine James, published by CICO Books. Photography ? CICO Books

Do you change up your shelves regularly?
Yes, I change mine all the time! Definitely seasonally, but sometimes I might just be inspired to use something from the garden, or from a trip to the beach, just to give it a new look and feeling.

How has sharing images of our homes on social media – as well as via video conferencing calls – changed the way we style our homes?
There are nearly 2 million hashtags on Instagram for #shelfies – a clear indication of how popular they are! During this period of lockdown, where we’re seeing into the homes of just about everyone, it’s really illuminating. If you have regular video meetings with the same people, it’s so fun to change the background slightly, or add something new each time!

Geraldine James' brand-new book #Shelfie is available now. 

What does your shelf say about you?

We asked team Selfridges to share their #shelfies with us.
Get inspired, then snap your own #shelfie and tag @theofficialselfridges on Instagram.