What’s the magic to arranging eye-catching shelves, whether it’s one floating shelf or a large built-in bookcase?

There are a few tricks you might want to try, says Knoxville interior designer Kelli Baker.  

“I am very thoughtful and intentional with the placement of each item,” she says. “I want to make sure that each item punctuates the personality of the room. For example, I would never use masculine hunting equipment to style a very feminine sunporch. Another key guideline is the relationship of the objects to each other: you want to make sure you are styling with items that have similar personalities.”

If you’re not happy with your bookcase, Baker advises you to start from scratch. Completely empty it, then look around the house for any unusual items that might add personality to the room.

“I once had a client who stored their firewood in the most beautiful copper bucket,” Baker says. “I found it in the garage. They were blown away by how fantastic granddad’s old copper bucket looked in their fabulous new bookcase.”

In addition to the importance of the items themselves, it’s just as important to have some empty spaces.

“Two common mistakes people make are using too much of one item or simply too many items,” Baker says. “A bookcase completely full of books looks cluttered. Or, a bookcase full of photo frames looks messy. Allowing one special item to sit alone gives that item importance.”

Follow Kelli on Instagram 
at @kellirbaker or call her at