A week or so ago, I spotted the cutest little secretary desk and hutch on Facebook Marketplace. Although I had absolutely no idea where I would put this piece, it was instant love. The hutch was local and just $100 so I drove right over and loaded it into my car! Many thought I’d paint it or fix it up somehow, but I love it’s shabby look, chipping paint and all. My favorite part of the cabinet? Styling the shelves!

Pinterest image of french bookcase with styled shelves

After moving it all over the house, upstairs and down, I finally decided to put it in the living room. Of course, doing so meant that I had to move other things around in the room, but I love that it’s the first thing I see when I come down the stairs each morning.

Blue empire hutch desk with styled shelves in a living room

How to Style Shelves: The Decor

Whenever I decorate shelves (for aesthetics, not function), I like to use a mix of the following:

  • Things I love
  • Sentimental items
  • Organic elements

See the Transformation!

Here’s a little time-lapse video of how I styled the shelves of my new-to-me hutch. I like to add my anchor pieces first and finish with organic item. You can find more details on shelf styling below the video.

Shelf Styling Details

You might have noticed from the video that I left the center area relatively blank, and that’s because anything in the center gets covered by the door frame!

Blue french hutch with shelves styled with antique books and art
Blue gustavian hutch with antique books, art and organic items

I really am a sucker for old books, especially if they are deckled edge books. On the top shelf, I added two prints that I picked up on my travels to Europe with my family as a reminder of our vacation.

French hutch with deckled edge books framed art and and cast iron shoe mold

To add a bit more greenery, I decided to use some preserved lichen because although it’s real, it doesn’t require any maintenance. I get a nice pop of green and an organic shape and I can’t kill it! I also added some address number plaques that I picked up in Europe.

Collection of antique books on display in a french cabinet

On the left side, I included my most favorite book that my husband surpised me with, plus a very fake potted fern. It definitely looks better behind glass than in does up close! I also included some feathers and ironstone for an additional organic shape.

Styled shelves with antique books and feathers in an ironstone pot

The top of the hutch flips down to reveal a desk space. While I had originally planned to make this my workspace, I decided I didn’t really like facing the wall.

Blue french hutch with styled shelves with flip down desk

And for those of you with eagle eyes, YES, I painted my living room wall. I was so over the yellow! I’m not sure this is the final color and this is the only wall I painted, but I love it so much more than the yellow so it’s a keeper for now! It’s Classic Grey from Benjamin Moore in a matte finish. More to come at a later date about my paint project….

To learn more about how to style shelves, read {THIS} article!

How to Style a Bookshelf - 8 Easy and Expert Tips from Tidbits&Twine

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  1. Love your blog and never miss an edition.
    I painted the majority of my home Classic Grey four years ago, love it and extremely easy to live with – adorable secretary/hutch, fabulous deal!

  2. Lynne Parish says:

    What a beautiful piece! I wouldn’t refinish it, either.

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