Shelf Life

Lauren Alexander at DACHA in Manhattan Beach offers style support for that perfect, layered fall look.



Creating a space in your home is about showcasing your unique style, interests and life experiences. Your home should be comfortable and functional, yes, but it should also reflect who you are and where you have been in life.

It is really important to include elements that are unique to you—whether this is a piece of art (even something your child drew), old family photos, an object acquired during travel or a family heirloom. These unique (and often quirky) items mix with new pieces to add interest and soul to any space in your home.

I love going to someone’s home and getting to know more about them by seeing what they’ve decorated their home with—discovering their treasures! Likewise I love looking around my own home and being reminded of time shared with family and friends, travels to an exotic locale or the work of an artist whom I admire.

Mix and Match

Contrast is key! Incorporate high and low, old and new, large and small, different materials. Don’t worry about provenance or how much something cost—mix your grandmother’s Lalique with a thrift store trinket. Play with scale—use different-sized objects.

Pieces look best when they are not all the same but rather complement one another. For instance, pottery in different sizes and finishes will work together if they are in the same color family. Using different yet complementary pieces will achieve a cohesive and balanced look.

Use Natural Materials

This is California. We love being outside; we love the woods and the beach. Whether it is a unique seashell, an interesting rock or a cool piece of driftwood, natural elements add interest and texture to any vignette.
It is also super-important to work in at least one living plant. People often have a hard time with this because they think they can’t keep plants alive. I know it is totally depressing to come home and see dead plants scattered around, but there are so many hearty indoor plants that this does not have to be an issue. Take a leap of faith! Having something living and green will make a big difference and add punch to any space.

Group Things Together

It is great to showcase personal objects and collections on your shelves, but these items can quickly look like a hodge-podge if they are not thoughtfully grouped together. Put together pieces of pottery, framed photos, etc. And layer, layer, layer. Instead of spreading out all of your wall art, lean a smaller frame against a larger one for a layered effect. This way things will look pulled together and not random.

Stack Your Books

Books are a great opportunity to showcase your interests. I am not talking about beat-up paperback romance novels. A book on Moorish architecture might remind you of a recent trip to Morocco, while one on rock ‘n’ roll photography is a nod to a lifelong love affair with the Rolling Stones.

Whatever your interests are, there is a beautifully presented coffee table/art book that can represent them. Comb through your local bookstore (shout-out {pages}!) for inspiration. Stack two or three on your shelf and place a decorative bowl, geode or small plant on top.

There is no one formula to achieve the perfectly styled shelf. Be thoughtful, be you and have fun with it!