Having received some questions on how to display items on shelves I will give you some tricks of my trade. These are some very basic tricks that I teach the staff in the shops I work for.
Ofcourse there are more advanced display techniques and there are more advanced variations on the ones I'm teaching you but I won't get into that today. Also, it's not necessarily so that all beautifully styled shelves that you see in photos and in magazines have been styled using these techniques, some people just have an eye for it :) But once you know of these tricks you will probably start noticing that they are being used. Check out the chain store window displays next time you're out and about. You'll probably see a few examples.
Trick #1 TRIANGLES
Items which are grouped in a triangular shape draw the eye to the group as a whole instead of each individual item. The triangular shape is pleasing to the eye and without realising it your eye "reads" the display, starting at the top point, going to the bottom right and on to the bottom left and then back to the top. Click on the images to see them in bigger size.
Trick #2 GROUPING
For a triangle to be effective you need to group your items properly. Pick out the tallest item you want to display or add one if you were not planning on having one. This tall item will be the top point of your triangle. Add your mid sized items infront of your tall one. Place the outer ones to the side but still overlapping the tall one. Then place the smallest ones in front and to the side of them.
Grouping means exactly what it says, the items are or are almost touching each other (at least looking at them from the front) and yes, you may not see the every inch of the one at the back, but you will have a pretty grouping of items.
Trick #3 EMPTY SPACE
Don't be afraid of empty space when displaying. You may not have empty space in your bookcase but you should strive for some where you're not storing, but displaying.
Empty space basically means that you leave a bit of space around your group of items until there is another group. It helps the eye focus on your groups.
Trick #4 REPETITION
Repeating similar items is also a great attention grabber. If you have a collection of similar items you can simply line them up 3, 5 or 7 at a time. Uneven numbers are more pleasing to the eye as the eye tends to group things in two's which will "break apart" your display. Again think about the grouping trick, although this is not a triangle you still need to keep your repeated items close together, if not touching or overlapping. Also remember the empty space. Leave a little bit of space in between groups.
When displaying I often use the triangle technique for a larger group and incorporate some small repeated items at the in bottom left or right of my triangle.
Keep it simple. Don't try to display all your nick-nacks at once. Store some and bring them out to switch your displays around.
I'm off early tomorrow to the south of Sweden to see my mom so I won't be posting again until Sunday. You'll have plenty of time to practice the art of display until then :)