How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

Hi, Remodelaholic friends!  I’m Lauren from Bless’er House, and if you’ve never ventured over to my little corner of the blogosphere, I’ll give you the quick skinny- I’m sort of an industrial farmhouse junkie.

But there’s a small catch.  I live in a very current builder grade no-personality-whatsoever house in the suburbs.  Oh, and I have a very small budget.  Did I mention that?  That’s probably the most important part.

My handy hubby and I have been known to take on some really outside-of-the-box projects like building an inexpensive wood beam doorway or installing an oversized faux fireplace.  Then, there was the time I decided our shower needed some industrial style and our plain windows needed a Craftsman style beef up.

This time around, we set our sights on our home office that had barely been touched since move-in day over two years ago:

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

From the very beginning, I had the idea to decorate this space to have a vintage industrial military feel.  My husband was in the Marine Corps years back, and I wanted this to be a place he could display his memorabilia and call it his own.

I wanted to install some wood and steel industrial shelving similar to ones I’d seen at Restoration Hardware, except without the $3,000 price tag.

Then, I came across these inexpensive steel storage units from Home Depot.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

They cost under $100!  And they took all of about 30 minutes to put together.  My kind of DIY- easy and cheap, and really, I guess these would barely be considered DIY.

We ended up buying three of them, and we were still able to use half of one in our garage for actual workshop storage.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

But the secret to making them look not so much like storage units is all in the styling.

I set out to work with a mound of thrift store finds, hand-me-downs, and mementos from my husband’s military days and came up with this:

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

Between the two tall shelves, I made a DIY vintage style pull down map using a poster and wooden dowel rods.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

How to Style Industrial Shelves

For styling the bookcases, I focused on these ten decorating rules:

  1.  Utilize unexpected items.

It’s probably not typical for a pair of boots to be displayed on a bookcase, but since these boots had quite a personal history to go with them, they deserved to have a special place alongside my husband’s pocket Bible.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

2.  Incorporate many textures.

I tried utilizing multiple elements- aged metal, paper, greenery, woven baskets, and rough wood.  The more natural elements you can incorporate, the better.  Variety of textures adds dimension.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

3.  Layer objects.

You can create interest by layering items on a shelf, so, for instance, this metal mail sorter, wooden frame, and metal orb together work well when layered.  Choose items that vary in sizes from each other.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

4.  Decorate with objects that also function as storage.

This vintage suitcase once belonged to my grandmother, but in addition to its sentimental meaning, it serves as storage for photos that we can easily access whenever we’d like.  The cigar box on top, even though it’s a memento from our wedding, serves as storage for business cards.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

5.  Focus on the rule of threes.

When decorating shelves, mantels, tabletops, wherever you’d like, keep the number 3 in mind when grouping objects.  On the shelf below, the potted plant, concrete finial statue, and the set of books together serve as a grouping of three.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

6.  Be symmetrical.

Along with decorating in threes, you can also decorate with symmetry in mind.  Keep items balanced as much as possible.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

7.  Vary heights.

Add interest by placing some books in a row and stacking others on top of each other to break up straight lines.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

8.  Don’t be afraid of blank space.

It’s totally up to your style and how much blank space you want, but when in doubt, simplicity is always a good idea.  You don’t have to fill up every nook and cranny of a shelf to make it feel complete.  As the saying goes, less is more.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

9.  Stick with a color scheme.

I’m typically a neutral, earth tones kind of gal, but if you love bright, vivid colors, use them!  Just make sure you balance your use of your color scheme throughout.  Since this is a military inspired office, I tried to space out items with olive drab colors to make the display more cohesive.

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

10. Break the rules!

You know how I just gave you this long list of rules?  Yeah, I’m just going to tell you to ignore me now.  Because sometimes the best solution is to break the “decorating rules” and just have fun.  That’s what decorating your home should be about anyway, right?  Have fun!

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

If you want to see the whole process from start to finish, here’s a quick video too:

If you can’t see the video, check it out over on our YouTube channel, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any new videos!

How to Style Industrial Shelves on the Cheap | Bless'er House for Remodelaholic.com

What do you think?  Does it say “industrial military” to you?  If not, well, at least I attempted it with my thrifty and cheap stockpile of decor.

You can find links to similar decor items below (affiliate links, see our full disclosure policy here):

You can stop in to see all of my other DIYs and budget decorating tricks on my blog, Bless’er House.  If you are a fan of industrial farmhouse decor as much as I am, you can check out our guest bathroom makeover, foyer reveal, and master bathroom re-do too.  Hope to see ya over there!

Blessings,

Lauren


More tips for great-looking shelves:

5 Ways to Make Sure You Style Your Decor Right

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4 Comments

  1. I love this! It totally says military industrial! You did a great job. You have given me ideas and inspiration for my hubby’s office. Thank you Lauren! Blessings to you.

  2. I’m visiting from your blog Lauren. You do have a gift. It truly is an art. Your DIY painted books do look nice. I actually did paint one ugly gook as I needed it for heighth and I’m using it now as we speak!! I feel like your mix of items is so totally perfect. I have trouble not filling every space everywhere. Just lately. And struggling with making things look right to my eye. So this serves as a nice thing to inspire me.