When you fill a bookshelf or hutch with head-turning displays, it can really make a room.

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I love crafting intriguing displays that help tell the story of our home and our lives, especially in a large cabinet like a bookcase or hutch.

These bold, beautiful pieces of furniture are a statement all by themselves. When you fill them with head-turning displays, they can really make a room.

Not sure how to style your cabinets? Here are a few tricks to consider.

Mix up the content

In what room does your cabinet reside? Let that begin to influence its content, but not dictate it.

If you have a hutch in your dining room, style it with some beautiful serving pieces, dishes and glasses. Similarly, a bookcase in your library should include volumes of books.

But don’t stop there. Stretch beyond the practical and include a few unexpected pieces, because this piece of furniture shouldn’t just work hard, it should provide some eye candy, too.

Tuck in your treasures

Intriguing cabinet displays are kind of like a one-act play. You’re telling a story using a few carefully chosen props. So start your drama by creating a backdrop. A piece of artwork is a perfect pick. Prop up a framed print or plate in an easel.

Some of the best displays in cabinets spotlight interesting treasures. They may be photos of your family, mementos from your travels, pieces of a collection or family heirlooms.

Include items of varying shapes and sizes — including unexpected choices — for visual interest. (TNS)
Include items of varying shapes and sizes — including unexpected choices — for visual interest. (TNS)

A variety of shapes and sizes

To be visually interesting, displays in cabinets need to pull together items that are different sizes, shapes and finishes. Try a collection of different types of dishes, pitchers and glassware to create visual artwork that draws you in.

When I style my cabinets at home, I do it step by step over several days. I start by gathering the pieces I think I want displayed together and experiment until they are grouped in ways that please me. Then, over the next few days, I go back and tweak them, sometimes replacing items, sometimes adding, sometimes subtracting.

Add some light

If the cabinets are so dark that you can’t see a thing, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your displays are. If the shelves cast shadows, consider adding some lights. My friend propped a small lamp in her dark wood bookcase to add illumination.

As tacky as it may sound to some, you can bring in light using adhesive-backed battery operated lights. You can also brighten shelves by painting the backs or sides a light color, like cream or soft gray.